Kitui County on Wednesday launched an action plan and formed a committee to counter violent extremism owing to its proximity to Somalia, a country ravaged by war waged by extremists.
Speaking in Kitui town after the launch, Kitui Deputy Governor, Dr. Wathe Nzau noted that violent extremism is a big challenge for Africa and the world today because it has no religion, no race, and no ethnicity or culture.
“The threat of violent extremism is growing exponentially, wreaking havoc on economies, and causing widespread social upheaval, including growing inter-faith intolerance,” said Dr. Wathe.
He disclosed that violent extremism is also threatening the rule of law, pluralism and causing political instability particularly in fledgling democracies across the world.
The Deputy Governor appreciated the opportunity accorded by the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) training in the county to deepen understanding on the growing complexity of the drivers and typologies of violent extremism as it manifests in multiple domains.
He underscored that whichever way violent extremism manifests, its impacts on the political, economic and social order, as well as the well-being of communities and families, can no longer be gainsaid.
Dr. Wathe noted that radicalization feeds into and is closely tied to violent extremism and terrorism.
The NCTC Director, Njenga Miiri observed that drivers of violent extremism are multifaceted, and include fanatical ideology and the promise of material incentives, state fragility that is characterized by poor service delivery and porous borders.
Miiri disclosed that violent extremism is part of a global political project that is driven by an ideology of self affirmation rather than a reactive phenomenon such as against oppression or marginalization.
“There is need to confront the threat with a robust, adaptive and collaborative preventive efforts, including sharing of lessons learnt and best practices, with a view to destroying the radicalization pipeline through the formation of county action plans to prevent and counter violent extremism,” he said.
Miiri called on early detection of radicalization observing that these local networks primarily exploit historical grievances held by vulnerable groups that may feel alienated, socially, economically and politically.
He underscored the urgency of affected communities to deflate the perverted narratives by extremists and entrench the correct messaging that promotes the values of plurality, universalism, democracy, freedom and tolerance as the basis of ‘our common humanity.’
Miiri said that the Kitui Rapid County Action Plan to prevent and counter violent extremism is part of the national focus on strengthening inclusive strategies and sharing experiences at all levels.
“The formed committee will reinforce social and political messaging; publicly, persistently and extensively as key to delegitimizing violent extremist narrative,” said Miiri.
By Yobesh Onwong’a