Premised on the need to stamp out violent extremist practices in Nigerian universities and communities in northern Nigeria, a student group, Speak Out Act Right (SOAR) with support from Edventure Partners (EVP) has come out with a campaign to end all forms of extremist practices among students of Nigerian tertiary institutions.
While speaking in a seminar series organized by SOAR, in the Assembly Hall of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, the Director of the Gender Policy Unit, Ahmadu Bello University, Dr Binta Abdulkarim noted that Nigerian universities are becoming a wet ground for extremist ideologies to find expression.
“Students have become the major drivers of extremist practices in Nigeria. They are admitted into the university with different belief systems which appear to create a division among the student body. But in this university, we do not deal on religion; we deal on individuals and stand for human dignity.
“What joins us together is greater than what divides us. Hence, religion is not enough, or, a justification to reduce or objectify our humanity. What this campaign has done for the university is to create awareness on the existing forms of extremism on campus; it has provided alternative narrative to extremism and have nudged the student representative bodies to take action”, she said.
In the same vein, Dr Abdullahi Musa Soba from the Department of Library and Information Science, while speaking on Cyber-extremism and Hate Speeches admonished students not to destroy their humanity by their activities on the internet saying “I am amazed by the amount of education I have had from the campaign so far; especially in the area of cyber-extremism on campus.
“The Internet has become a tool for expressing hate. As students, we are agents of change. We should not be caught or allow ourselves to be lured into exchanging hate speeches or reducing the humanity of other people online. Be careful what you do on the internet; it could destroy your humanity”, he admonished.
While emphasizing the need for students to respect the dignity of other people or gender irrespective of the divisive interpretations in religion and culture, Professor James Kantiok noted that many African cultures are women unfriendly saying “unfriendly religious cum cultural practices have been implanted on many Nigerians and the Nigerian political system nudges extremism to find expression. Women and girls have become the choice weapon of war. They are used as sex slaves by extremists. What we have learnt from this campaign in our university is the fact that we must begin to address these problems from the family unit. Parents must begin to teach their children the values of human dignity and respect” he said.
On his part, Dr M.K Isah noted that political extremists in Nigeria use religious sentiments to achievement political results noting that “students are politician’s foot soldiers. However, with the level of students participation on this campaign and signatories gathered from the faculty and students against extremism, I can see the paradigm shifting. Campaign of this nature should be replicated in other Nigerian universities”, he conclude.