From: Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, has called on Nigerian media to support the institution in its ongoing campaign against religious extremism in Nigeria’s higher institutions campuses to have a safer society.
Prof. Garba noted that extremism thrives in Nigeria and Nigeria’s tertiary institutions because counter-narrative messages are underreported in Nigerian media and when they are reported, details are not captured thereby not effective as it ought to.
The Vice Chancellor stated this, on Thursday, while playing host to a student group, Speak Out Act Right (SOAR), in his office on the occasion of the ongoing Peer-to-Peer Facebook Global Digital Campaign titled “Challenging Extremism”.
According to him, “extremist practice is capable of destroying the whole of humanity both within and outside the university community and as a result, there is an urgent need to emphasize counter-narrative messages in the media with messages of love, peace and respect for human dignity replacing sensationalisation in the media.
“Counter-narrative messages are underreported. The media is saturated with hate speeches against one religion or the other, one ethnic versus the other meanwhile the eyes of our youths are being opened to see our differences instead of our strength as a nation.
“We live under several external influences that divide us as a society and as human beings. However, we must know that we are all first human beings before our religious inclinations. The messages of this campaign are profound and I call on the media to join our university to stamp out extremism in everywhere they exist in the world”, urged the VC.
Earlier, Director of Gender Policy Unit, Dr. Binta Abdulkarim, who coordinated the activities of the student group, hinted that the rationale behind the campaign was to develop counter-narratives against religious extremism starting with higher institutions and to the larger society.
Her words, “Religion has become a tool that extremists use to mobilize support for their inhuman activities. As a result, there is an urgent need to get credible voices and institutions to challenge extremist practices among students considering the fact that many students begin to develop their ideas about religion from the university.
“The responsibility falls on us as a university to begin to develop narrative to counter extremism; this is the nucleus for this campaign”, she added.
Speaking on behalf of SOAR, a postgraduate student of Local Government and Development Studies, Timothy Elisha, urged university vice chancellors and other stakeholders in the educational sector, to continue to add their voices in support of the fight against extremism as a collective means of reaching more young Nigerians faster.