Family, Clerics key to ending Boko Haram menace — Defence College chief, Mamud

Engaging the family and religious leaders by government, security agencies and other stakeholders has been identified as a key factor in ending the scourge of violent extremism like Boko Haram as being experienced in Nigeria.
The fresh perspective on finding solutions to the seemingly intractable challenge of violent religious extremism is being propounded by a Deputy Director and researcher at the National Defence College (NDC), Abuja, Dr. Yusuf Abubakar Mamud.
According to Mamud, a softer approach to preventing and countering extremism and terrorism, can be implemented successfully using the family and religious leaders, without forgoing the military offensive and counter attacks.
Dr. Mamud put his thoughts in a book – ‘In God’s Name We Fight: Embracing and Renouncing Violent Extremism’ – which he is set to formally launch next week, alongside another book of his on struggles and triumphs of the average Nigeria youth, titled ‘Turning Forty’.
Addressing journalists in Abuja at the weekend ahead of the twin book launch, Dr. Mamud, who has been a researcher at the NDC for about 20 years, said his lengthy studies and experience prove that the family unit is key to tackling the ignorance which fuels extremism.
He stated that “we must start from the family unit in a bid to stem the tide of violent extremism. This can produce evidence based response. The family is key to tackling violent extremism. Family must be at the heart of the solution.
“The hard military power approach is relevant, but afterwards we need to identify individual family groups and religious groups to ask pertinent questions. We should ask them for solutions not giving them our own, which may not be the best.”
Dr. Mamud, who also advised that public preaching by clerics needs to be regulated and closely monitored by government and security agencies, further called for a rejig of the curriculum of the military institutions and training to factor in family intervention and other relevant social indices.
Worried by the fact that young boys in the North where violent extremism is prevalent, need better parental monitoring to check them from being lured into crime, the author canvassed that certain conditions be attached to government’s social investment programmes – like restricting number of children for beneficiaries.
He equally expressed concern over the not so transparent roles of foreign donors and agencies, stressing that there currently may not be effective monitoring or supervision of these bodies by government institutions.
“We should be telling them what we want them to do for our people. There  be shouldn’t be to much free hand for them to do whatever they want in our country”, said Dr. Mamud, who pointed out the grey areas result to the occasional friction between the agencies and security agencies. 
Explaining his book, Dr. Mamud said he weaved his thoughts around a true-life story of a young undergraduate in a medical college who ended up as a Boko Haram fighter while searching to worship God on the campus of his institution.
He pointed out that the efforts to get the young man off that destructive trajectory were herculean but made easier and eventually successful when his family applied love, empathy and compassion to de-radicalise him. 
The academic followed up the story personally and conclusively till the young Boko Haram fighter was liberated and graduated as a neurosurgeon in a foreign university, with the intention to help less privileged Nigerians back home.
Mamud’s second book, ‘Turning Forty’ revolves around the struggles, disappointments and victories of the average young person as he or she approaches and turns 40 years of age in Nigeria.
He captures the joblessness that follow the high hopes in many instances as well as the parental and societal pressures that trail the average Nigerian youth even after going through higher education, which is touted as the key to a bright future.
“Part of my own success is putting this dilemma and experience in writing and present to the public. This book will encourage the youth to struggle more as their is light at of the tunnel.
“We should formalise vocational skills too, like having  better formal training of  mechanics and carpenters and other blue collar artisans. While we may not always have to blame the government, it is clear that we need better curricular in our educational institutions”, he said.

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