AUN Students Launch Digital Campaign to Challenge Extremism in Nigeria

Students of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, on Thursday launched a digital campaign, tagged #IAmABeliever2 to challenge extremism in the country.

The #IAmABeliever2 campaign seeks to promote religious tolerance and mutual understanding between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, by acknowledging and valuing all beliefs equally, even though they are different.  The campaign highlights the importance and beauty of all beliefs, and the shared space that comes from acknowledging the religious other as a believer in his/her own right.

The students, under the team name, WAVE (Women Against Violent Extremism), are targeting women and young girls in a bid to empower and inspire them to take a stand against violent extremism and not be passive victims of the crises.

The #IAmABeliever2 campaign will be based mainly online, and will harness the power and exponentiality of social media in Nigeria to take its message of hope and tolerance to all parts of the country.

As part of the digital strategy, the team is using the web-application, Beliepedia (www.beliepedia.org), which creates a shared space where Biblical and Qur’anic texts interact on often-dissonant questions.  The site has provisions for users to comment and engage with the topics and texts.

The team also announced a national essay and arts competition for secondary schools students, to create awareness and promote religious tolerance and stem a growing tide of religious intolerance in the country.  

Creative Director of the team, Ms Ebiuwairo Uwagboe, said at the conference that the team decided to target women based on its research findings as well as the vulnerability of women in the ongoing crisis. “We felt the need to do this because it is young girls like them that have been snatched from their mothers and fathers, kidnapped, married off and used as suicide bombers. Women have to take a stand in challenging violent extremism, so that they no longer have to suffer as victims or as tools of this insurgency”.

The students are carrying out this campaign as participants in the Peer to Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge, an international inter-university competition which gets students from hundreds of universities around the world to challenge hateful and extremist narratives through the power of social media.  The competition, which is held every semester is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners. AUN students enrolled in the course, CMD 412 (Public Diplomacy & Strategic Media Intervention) launched the first phase of the #IAmABeliever campaign last year and went on to win first place at the maiden edition of the African Regional Finals in Ghana.

"You Are Schoolgirls Not Suicide Bombers", WAVE Tells Girls

To help challenge the increasing cases of young female suicide bombers in the country, students of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) under the auspices of Women Against Violent Extremism (WAVE) on Wednesday organized a security sensitization workshop for 150 young girls in Yola.

The workshop, led by security and counter-terrorism expert Dr. Lionel Rawlins and AUN Senior, Miss Amina Bamalli sensitized the girls, who are all registered in AUN’s Feed & Read program, on how to avoid being used as suicide bombers or as agents for detonating explosives.

Rawlins and Bamalli said Boko Haram terrorists are always on the lookout for young girls that they can indoctrinate and use as suicide bombers and warned the girls to be vigilant, to say NO and ensure they report any suspicious overtures and packages to their parents, teachers or security agents.

“You must never to accept or help to deliver strange packages from strangers” Rawlins warned. “You must value yourself and your life, you are important, you are somebody”.

WAVE organized the security training session for girls registered in AUN’s Feed and Read program, in response to the growing cases of child suicide bombers in Nigeria. According to a 2016 report by UNICEF, one in every five suicide bombers is a child and 75% of all child suicide bombers are girls as young as eight years old.    In Nigeria, Boko Haram has waged a violent insurgency since 2009, that has taken more than 50,000 lives, mostly women and children.  More recently, the sect has resorted to using mostly female suicide bombers to attack markets and city centers in Borno state and other parts of North-east Nigeria.

WAVE’s core campaign message, tagged #IAmABeliever2, aims to promote religious tolerance in Nigeria by inspiring women and girls in the country to value their beliefs and to take action against extremism everywhere. 

The WAVE campaign is developed in the course; `CMD 412 - Public Diplomacy and Strategic Media Intervention’ in the Communications and Multimedia Design program of the American University of Nigeria.  It is part of the Peer to Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge – a global inter-university competition.  Students registered in the competition, develop social and digital campaigns to challenge hateful and extremist narratives using the power of social media.  The competition, which is held every semester, is sponsored by Facebook and managed by EdVenture Partners. CMD 412 students of Fall 2016 semester launched the first phase of the #IAmABeliever campaign and went on to win first place at the maiden edition of the African Regional Finals in Ghana.

Using Radio and Mobile Technologies for Education in North-East Nigeria

In the face of the ongoing educational crises in North-East Nigeria, exacerbated by activities of the Boko Haram sect, the success of the USAID/AUN project, Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA) highlights the feasibility and importance of utilizing radio and mobile technologies to swiftly tackle the crises of education in the region.  With the destruction of schools and unavailability of teachers, there is an urgent need for Nigeria to place education at the center of the northeast recovery plan, in order to safeguard the nation’s future.  Click on the link below to read the full project evaluation brief.

Where There is No School: Radio and Mobile Technologies for Education in Crises and Conflict Societies.  

TELA Evaluation Brief

INVESTIGATION: Ethnic war looms as herdsmen intensify bloody campaign in Benue

By (Ibanga Isine), Premium Times NG

One of the victims with bullet wound

One of the victims with bullet wound

 

Unless urgent steps are taken to halt the continuous killings, displacements and plundering of Benue communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen, a bloody tribal conflict might soon erupt in the North-central state.

Already, a group known as Movement Against Fulani Occupation (MAFO), has been formed by a clergyman, Dave Ogbole, to campaign against the atrocious crimes perpetrated by herdsmen in the state.

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How Boko Haram forced me to watch my son beheaded – displaced Baga resident

Jummai Ibrahim

Peace Journalists seek to tell stories of the invisible effects of war on societies and on individuals. As Peace Journalists, we go beyond official soundbites to tell stories of ordinary people - their losses, triumphs and hopes for the future - even in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Peace Journalist Abdulkareem Haruna's heartrending story of a woman that watched Boko Haram insurgents behead her son, is one of such stories.