Global Leaders’ Summit On Countering Isil And Violent Extremism Remarks By His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President, Federal Republic Of Nigeria
Date: 29th September 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank President Obama for organising this important meeting. The timing is appropriate and the subject matter warrants our close attention. The threats posed by ISIL in the Middle East, and violent extremism elsewhere, are an existential danger to many States.
2. ISIL is a serious threat to international peace and security and should be treated as such. There can be no half measures or expedient solutions in dealing with terrorists and extremists.
3. They respect no laws, and have no regard to the sanctity of lives and property. They operate outside law and must be seen for what they are and dealt with appropriately.
4. Given that the acceptance process for recruits into the ranks of ISIL involves rigorous vetting and screening as well as sponsorship known as “tazkiya”; our expectation was that the demanding enlistment process coupled with the legal framework instituted by the United Nations would stem the tide of their flow. Apparently this is not yet happening.
5. The increase in violence and terrorism by ISIL and other groups has enticed and emboldened insurgent groups in Africa to pledge allegiance to gain local traction. The Boko Haram terrorist group, operating in the Lake Chad Basin area, which is currently on the Al-Qaida sanctions list, pledged its allegiance to ISIL in March 2015.
6. While we believe that Boko Haram action is an indication of the weakening operational capability of the group, it could also suggest that it was a strategic move to attract foreign fighters into its fold, and obtain assistance from ISIL. Certainly, whatever the reason was for the declaration of allegiance, one thing is certain: Boko Haram terrorist group wants to be drawn into the centre stage of global terrorism.
7. This development has led not only to a shift in strategy, but also to changes in ideology, recruitment and propaganda methods by Boko Haram. Its recourse to mass executions and public beheadings in the style of ISIL became notoriously widespread after the declaration of allegiance.
8. We also note that sub-Saharan Africa has been receiving special attention for purposes of radicalization and incitement. In the April 2015 Edition of the IS magazine, “DABIQ” entitled ‘Shariah Alone Will Rule Africa’ , Boko Haram was congratulated for “joining the caravan” of jihad, saying that they would “now guard yet another frontier of the Khilafah [caliphate]”. Boko Haram is neither protecting nor promoting Islam. Islam is the religion of peace and does not advocate the killing of the innocent.
9. Furthermore, capitalizing on historic ethnic tensions and upheavals in Africa, ISIL is making vigorous recruitment campaigns and strident efforts to expand into some communities in the Sahel region. Indeed, ISIL operations have lent credence to the supposition that terrorism and violent extremism are the two sides of the same coin.
10. Nigeria notes with satisfaction the efforts of the United Nations and the rest of the international community to contain ISIL. We certainly need to do more. We need to take military action combined with effective border security, intelligence collection and sharing, and vigorous policing action.
11. These alone may not suffice, but they can certainly stem the tide and reverse the process of recruitment, movement and effective operation of foreign terrorist fighters and their associated radical extremists. In order to put in place the critical components of an effective approach to countering ISIL and eventually defeating it, we must address the threat from the source.
12. We must find a way to prevent young people from turning to terror in the first place. And the young people that turn to violent extremism do not exist in a vacuum – they are often part of communities and families and are lured into the fold of barbaric and nihilistic organizations, somehow, through a misguided appeal to their worst fears, expectations and apparent frustrations.
13. While addressing the causes of this attraction and how to deal with them, we should pay close attention to other manifest factors that may not be tangible but can be crucial. Good governance, which entails transparency, accountability and rule of law, remains the basis on which we should kick-start the process of ridding the world of the menace of terrorism and violent extremism.
14. The international community will be required to work together to deter and disrupt illicit financial flows from nations with weak anti–theft structures to other parts of the world.
15. Where such funds are identified, the victim State should be assisted to recover them expeditiously. Mr Chairman, you have yourself observed that “groups like al-Qa’ida and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives.”
16. Member States need to address local socio-economic grievances by formulating policies that would ensure broad-based transformation through job creation, equalization of opportunities and expanding access to social services.
17. We in Africa need also rededicate ourselves to uphold the mandate of the African Union Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and other good governance initiatives that we have adopted in our region, to encourage conformity with political, economic and corporate governance values.
18. The Secretary-General of the United Nations noted in February 2015, we are facing the “the greatest test our human family faces in the 21st century”. Thus, all options must be explored and all hands must be on deck in the quest for a durable and a lasting panacea to the threat posed by ISIL, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the like.
Thank you for your attention.