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Violent extremism by Onuche Eleojo Samson

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The Experience, Action Taken and the Way Forward

’ve never seen someone so upset; Yakubu’s face was in flames. Deep wrinkles spread gloriously across his face and he aged in that instant. I asked why he wasn’t as cheerful as he used to be whenever he delivered water to the Corper’s Lodge in Mani Area, Kastina. I wondered how possible it was for someone to crease his face into a crooked scowl. Yakubu blurted out the reason for his anger in a poorly constructed Sentence, slurred by a Hausa accent. As terrible as his grammar was; I deduced he found the budding relationship between a male and female Corper repulsive. His obvious disdain lay in the fact that they shared an apartment. Cohabitation was an alien ideology to him and that fascinated me. I brushed his tense shoulders slightly and went into my apartment; a mistake I still regret.
One evening, the sun had burned harshly during the day and we were glad for the fresh breeze that filtered in through the Window. We all left the Windows opened to usher in the auspicious presence of the late September wind. Everything was perfect until a shrill cry of a woman rang in the air, slicing through the silence that had settled on the Lodge. Instinctively, I darted to the door, dragging along an object for defense. Other Corpers in the Lodge were up too, all woken by the uproar. We dashed to the room where the sound had come from. Sprawled on the floor were the lovebirds that were cohabiting; wriggling in excruciating pain. I stared aghast at the horrid sight before me, alarm etched across my face. Blood gushed from their hands and painted the floor deep crimson.
“Yakubu and some Hausa boys” the lady half explained amidst tears. There was no time to further question them; they were rushed to the NYSC Secretariat for treatment. Later, we were told that Yakubu had brought his fellow Muslims who considered Cohabitation an unpardonable sin, to melt justice on the “sinners” by chopping off their fingers.
This incident in 2017, spurred me into committing time and resources into a movement organized by YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) in collaboration with Action aid to educate many young people like Yakubu, who have misguided religious, cultural and political ideologies. This was something I should have done the day Yakubu had flared up. The YALI Network Members (Lokoja Chapter) burdened by this tale; have enlightened and sensitized communities on the need for Youths to channel their energy into Nation building rather than acts of violence. One of the most recent sanitization was at Ejule in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State. The one-day event emphasized the need to shun “Violent Extremism”; the message had a resounding effect coming from the mouth of the Onu (King) of Ejule, ALHAJI ABDULLAHI A. AMANABA.
It was necessary to take this timely message to Ejule because it is an area prone to violence. As a locality populated by Youths with ideologies as diverse as they are conflicting; Ejule has recorded disputes that have escalated into communal conflicts with casualties in recent past. Ejule as noted above, have been one of the most violent prone areas in the Eastern part of Kogi State, where a lot of Youths have been used by Politicians to perpetrate violence and disruption of peace. Hence, the need for our visit to sensitize the Youths against being used as objects in the hands of the politicians and to avoid any act capable of plunging them into becoming Violence Extremist, as recorded in the past. As a member of YALI Network, Kogi, in a speech delivered by me, I encouraged them to be “useful Youths” by engaging in productive and sustainable ventures that can stand the test of time, such as (1) forming a youth association that can take part in football competitions, (2) Cultural Display Group; where they can showcase their rich cultural heritage and it can be their passport to the World, (3) as these come together, our own part as YALIANS, will be to come from time to time to teach them entrepreneurial skills that can empower them for the future. Now, from the above 1-3, are the various steps which, when properly harnessed would emancipate the Youths not just in Ejule alone, but in our Rural Areas from being used as agents of violence, which over time had been their source of livelihood, there is a saying that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” I couldn’t agree more. A lot of them don’t know what they can do to better their society as such they take on one of the “easiest but dangerous” venture, which is thuggery, impregnating underage girls and giving birth to children they cannot even cater for, the children who would recycle their fathers’ life style. On our part, we try to discourage them and expose them to the better part of life to make them responsible citizens of the society. With my experience in the North on how a lot of Youths have been so confined to one a way life style, to the point that they cannot think on their own to do what is right as a result you see them so bitter when eventually they see any lifestyle contradicting what they have been taught and grown to believe, hence they resort to violence as a means of showing their grievance. The reason for my being part of an advocacy group such as “Young African Leaders Initiative”, “ActionAid”, “Kogi Earnest Group” and the most recent, which was held in Abuja, at the International Conference Center, “Youth Decide” which is pioneered by the convener and co-convener, “NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN” Bill, Samson Itodo and Hamzat Lawal as well as other notable young Nigerians like Chukwuma Ephraim Okenwa (C.E.O), and Ovo Otarigho is to make Nigerian Youths see the future that lie ahead of them and to shun any act capable of destroying the future.
Thank you!!!
Onuche E. Samson (08069229316)
President: Kogi Earnest Group-KEG
Member: YALI Network Kogi
Member: Youth Decide, Abuja.

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