The Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner (CC), Ms. Beverly Opwora has hailed the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) for prioritizing the county in its operations and called on the centre professionals to help refine the ‘crude bank’ of initiatives mushrooming in this county in preventing terrorists’ aggression.
“As you have witnessed, Tharaka Nithi has a crude bank of initiatives from the youth and various community based organizations and we urge you as the professionals to help us refine them to more effectively sensitize the residents on how to successfully prevent violent extremism,” said the CC.
Ms. Opwora who was giving her closing remarks after a two day workshop on the implementation of the Rapid County Action Plan (RCAP) to counter and prevent violent extremism in Tharaka Nithi County, disclosed that she was humbled to note that NCTC noted the many initiatives made by various groups in the county though in their own crude way.
She further revealed that the county has a secretariat on board and the immediate challenge is how to jumpstart engagement between the youth and the ‘Njuri Ncheke’ (Meru Council of Elders) on ways to counter radicalization through social media and cultural rites of passage.
The CC called on the stakeholders especially those handling media and online platforms as channels for radicalization and recruitment to take advantage of village dialogues and the Marimanti Youth Empowerment Centre that has free internet services to further their initiatives.
Speaking during the event, NCTC Preventive and Resilient Department Head, Njenga Miiri elaborated that it is innovations rather than the barrel of the gun that would be successful in winning the war against violent extremism.
“Violent extremism is an ideological war, with political people hiding behind religion and hence requires a soft approach rather than force. We need to engage with people to help them understand that they are being lured to fight an imaginary enemy in the name of religion,” explained Miiri.
The NCTC officer further explained that no religion was superior to the other and the Kavonokia Sect followers needed to be engaged to understand the underlying convictions that were behind their queer practices to stop their spread in Tharaka Nithi County.
Miiri further disclosed that the initiative to counter violent extremism needed not require much resources as perceived by man because ‘we only need to mainstream the platforms already in place to fight the vice’.
“Our major mission is to awaken Kenyans that terrorists are here with us either through the education system, media programme and groups already in place. Let them incorporate the counter terrorism message in the already existing programmes. Let the security guards be aware of this threat rather than concentrate on theft and robberies only,” stressed the NVTC Senior Officer.
In conclusion Miiri explained that in a terror incident, the victims have only three options namely: running away, hiding and in the worst scenario fighting back as a last resort and that cooperating is not a viable option at all.
The two day local knowledge forum was organized by the NCTC funded by the European Union in conjunction with the Government of Kenya. It was received by the County Engagement Forum that is chaired by the County commissioner.
By David Mutwiri