When Imrana Alhaji Buba was 14 years old, he used to spend his days attending forums and volunteering in Potiskum – a town in Yobe once popular for its hospitality and peace – until the terrorist group, Boko Haram, took all that away.
Two of Buba's family members were victims of bomb blasts in that region; and one of his best friends was kidnapped for almost 3 weeks until his father was able to pay a N10 million ransom.
All these horrific incidents eventually pushed Buba to create Youth Coalition Against Terrorism (YOCAT) – a volunteer-based organization in northern Nigeria, working to unite youth against violent extremism through peace education programs in schools and villages.
Fighting terrorism from the ground up
Since YOCAT's establishment in 2010, the organization has recruited over 600 volunteers and has partnered with many local bodies to organize different beneficial programs for young people in north-eastern Nigeria.
Speaking with Africa News about the effects the programs have on the youth in those regions, Buba said:
"Owing to these programs, many young people have learnt how to reject violence, respect one another, and to embrace the values of peace in their everyday living."
In 2016, Buba was chosen among 21 young Africans in the Commonwealth and awarded the Queen’s ‘Young Leaders Award’ – an award that recognizes exceptional millennials who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Baba hopes that in the next 10 years, YOCAT will be one of the top peace building organizations in Africa – promoting a culture of peace and tolerance among young people.