The Nigerian Activist Who Leads Youth Efforts Against Violent Extremism

In Nigeria, violent extremist organizations like Boko Haram are constantly seeking to recruit new members among young people. But many of them, rather than heeding the group’s call to arms, are fighting back — and inspiring other youth to become peace activists.

Lawal is one of them. He works as a National Coordinator for the Nigeria Youth4Peace Initiative, a platform established by young Nigerian peacebuilders. He was also part of the CVE Youth Summit we organized in October 2016 in Maiduguri, a gathering of more than one hundred activists from West Africa who work to counter violent extremism in the region.

“I am extremely grateful to Search for bringing us together from various countries in the Sahel,” he said. “I learned a lot from the summit. It has deepened my understanding of violent extremism […] and impacted me personally.”

Over the months following the summit, he and his colleagues worked on online campaigns to create awareness of violent extremism among young people like them. Then, earlier this month, they went one step further and organized their own summit at the University of Ibadan, attended by 100 young peacebuilders, members of the media, UN representatives, and more. At the end of the summit, the participants committed to establishing peace clubs in public secondary schools and running more activities to build resilience to the propaganda of violent extremists.

Lawal sees this as the first of many successes. He’s designing a programme on conflict management for students in schools all across the country, and planning to launch media campaigns to spread the word about UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security.

Follow Search for Common Ground Nigeria to learn more about the work of young activists like Lawal!