The National Peace Council (NPC) has urged the youth not to be pushed into extremist activities due to the current economic hardship.
The Chairman of the NPC, Rev. Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, said though the economic situation was difficult, the youth must avoid violent extremist groups who enticed them with juicy monetary rewards.
He was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a countering violent extremism workshop in Cape Coast yesterday.
The two-day trainer of trainers’ workshop was organised by the NPC with support from the Danish International Development Agency for student leaders selected from various tertiary institutions in the southern sector of the country.
Participants were from the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast Technical University, University of Ghana, Legon, University of Education, Winneba, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Takoradi Technical University and the Perez University.
Rev. Adu-Gyamfi acknowledged that failure to tackle the nation’s high unemployment situation could push its young people into extremist activities.
He said it was, therefore, crucial that the youth were consciously oriented on the dangers of extremism and radicalism and educated to stay off such activities.
It was important to get young people to appreciate peace and the negative effects of radicalism and get them to promote peace and tolerance among their peers and communities.
Social media extremism
He further cautioned the country’s youth to be wary of high-level social media extremism through “influencers” who might want to use them to perpetuate acts of terrorism and radicalism.
He said it was essential for the youth to understand the beliefs and ideologies of “influencers” to ensure they did not direct them into acts of extremism, terrorism and radicalism, adding “if you see something say something”.
He said in the past most of the NPCs programmes were targeted at chiefs, the clergy and people in high places, noting that the council was now going down to involve the youth. He said similar workshops would be held in the middle and northern sectors of the country.
He had earlier urged the participants to work hard to maintain the nation’s peace.
In an address read on her behalf, the Central Regional Minister, Justina Marigold Assan, urged the participants to appreciate the reality of extremism and to support efforts at keeping their activities outside the country.
The Deputy Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Vibeite S. Pedersen, pledged to work with the NPC towards curbing extremism, saying such dialogues were important building blocks to countering extremism that was gathering momentum across the world.
Effects of extremism
A Lecturer at the Sociology Department of the University of Cape Coast, Dr Razak Jaha Imoro, said extremist activities continued to increase in the Sahelian region and urged the youth to understand the socio-economic and psychological effects of extremists and work to avoid them.