A First Class Graduate of Political Science from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria for his Bachelors’, and a Masters’ of Science Degree in Africa and International Development, from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Imrana Alhaji Buba is a very young man from the insurgency burdened, terrorist-ridden, North-eastern part of Nigeria. But unlike many young people from his community, Imrana has always been of the belief that age is not and will not be a limiting factor to make a difference. Since the age of fourteen, he has stuck his feet in attending forums and volunteer works in Potiskum, where he and his family are based. Potiskum is a town in Yobe state, popular for its hospitality until the insanity of Boko Haram terrorism surfaced. However, the menace that has threatened and cost the lives of so many has served to harden and fuel Imrana in the quest and the thirst to stop this evil rampage and bloodshed.
Imrana and the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism (YOCAT)
Due to his experiences and encounters with the insurgents and the consequences of the insurgencies, Imrana, in June, 2010, founded the Youth Coalition against Terrorism (YOCAT), a volunteer-based youth-led organization working to unite youth against violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria. YOCAT is a coalition of over 600 students, lawyers, health care professionals, educators, development workers, and most importantly, all dedicated young activists. The main aim of YOCAT is to end terrorism and religious extremism in north-eastern Nigeria, through organizing enlightenment and empowerment programmes for young people. Imrana is spurred by the belief that youth have the ideas, energy, and talent to unite their peers against terrorism and promote a culture of peace and tolerance.
Because most terror-groups recruits villagers, Imrana and his team at YOCAT visit villages regularly to meet with their youth organizations and village heads to explain the negative effects of violent extremism, how to be security conscious and assist the security agencies to win the war against terrorism. In addition to these, Imana and his team at YOCAT offer skill acquisition training for the unemployed youth and render counseling services to the victims of terrorism, so as to reduce marginalization and the subsequent sense of victimization that gives room for terrorism and extremism.
YOCAT is a volunteer-based youth-led organization in northern Nigeria working to unite youth against violent extremism in north-eastern Nigeria. It is a coalition of different categories of people; students, teachers, development workers, and most importantly, all dedicated young activists. The importance of YOCAT cannot be overemphasized. In less than six years of establishment, it has organized many peace education programs in northern Nigeria to raise awareness that terrorism is not a real part of our precious cultural and religious heritage. Because most terror-groups recruits villagers, YOCAT volunteers visited many villages to meet with their youth organizations to explain the negative effects of terrorism and to offer skills training to unemployed youth, counter-radical peace education for students, and counselling services to the victims of terrorism, so that frustration and hopelessness would not force them to join the terrorists. Since it launched its Security Awareness Campaign in November, 2014, recruitment of young villagers as terrorists has reduced significantly in Nigeria. Many young people are now collaborating with security agencies to defeat Boko Haram terrorists.
Imrana’s effort has not gone unnoticed by many institutions. Notably, in 2016, He won the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, and was selected for the Generation Change Fellowship of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and also received the 2018 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award. But charity begins at home, Imrana’s efforts has earned him so much respect in his community. Both young and elderly people, including some traditional rulers, make reference to him as “Shugaban Matasa” (meaning a “youth leader” in local Hausa dialect).
While there is the ‘Not Too Young to Run for Office’ category, here we have the ‘Not too Young to Militate against Terrorism’ Coalition. Imrana Alhaji Buba; a young man in the Skin of Warriors; Our Everyday Hero.
Featured image source: Imrana Alhaji Buba