Insurgency: VSF partners celebrities to counter extremism in N/East

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Prof. Sunday Ochoche, the Executive Director, Victims Support Fund (VSF), says the foundation is partnering with Hausa movie actors and musicians, popularly known as Kannywood, to develop movies and music to counter extremism in the North-East.

Ochoche made this known on Monday in Abuja during the opening of the “Behavior Change Communication workshop on using indigenous content to prevent and counter violent extremism in the North-East’’.

He noted that the Kannywood celebrities are highly influential in the North-East and partnering with the stars was one of the strategies of the VSF to promote peace in the region.

He said that as part of the partnership, the stars would produce music, short clips and movies with contents on the theme of peace, forgiveness, deradicalisation, patriotism and encouragement for the Nigerian Army.

He said that the partnership also aimed to produce messages against extremist ideologies that have led to the radicalisation of several youths in the region who have joined the Boko Haram insurgents.

“We realised in Victims Support Fund very early that if we are going to move forward in the peace agenda of the North East, we need to address issues of education, health, livelihood and the governance.

“We started our peace building projects and what is happening now is an integral component of our peace building programme.

“Peace involves everybody and all hands must be on deck, and here today are some of the most influential people in society, the musicians and movie stars.

“We are here to see how we can all work together to promote peace; peace does not just happen, we must work on peace to have peace, and you are a very important component of the VSF programme.

“Peace building is about trying to identify the root causes of conflicts and to respond to them in such a way that addresses these root causes so that they do not reoccur,’’ Ochoche said.

He noted that research had shown that across the world, traditional peace keeping or military intervention in conflicts alone do not provide lasting solutions to conflicts.

He explained that 50 per cent of conflicts usually reoccur at the end of military intervention because military solutions were not designed to address the root causes.

According to him, peacekeeping missions are only designed to keep away the warring factions, to create an enabling environment for peace talks and dialogue.

Mr Alkassim Abdulkadir, Spokesperson, Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI) and facilitator of the workshop, said that the project would also help checkmate new Boko Haram recruitments.

He said that the VSF was leveraging on the Kannywood star power in preaching and restoring peace to the North East in order to develop the region.

“The idea is that these people will come together with us and we will now create these messages in the form of music, videos and films.

“So that people who watch will understand the importance of living in peace, living in harmony, in preaching for forgiveness and also beginning the early stages of transitional justice.

“The concept of transitional justice is to forgive those who have wronged communities and to accept them back because they are now repentant; and we refer to these types of people as ex-combatants.

“These are people who lived in communities, joined Boko Haram, but have repented and have undergone the process of deradicalisation.

Abdulkadir said that the project was expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2019 and there would be a public movie premier and the music played all over.

Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a Kannywood movie producer, Mr Abba El-Mustapha, said that the partnership would be the contribution of the industry in combating the Boko Haram menace.

He said that movies and music would create awareness to youths in the region on the dangers of radicalisation, extremist ideas and violence among others.

El-mustapha said that it was only when the youths were aware of the dangers of insurgency that they would avoid getting involved in violent acts. With reports by NAN

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