Sola Adeyemo Ibadan
Conscious of the negative impacts of violence and insecurity on past elections in Nigeria, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), under the leadership of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, in collaboration with Solar Security and Consult Company Limited, last week engaged several stakeholders in the South West to chart ways forward for free, fair and violence-free elections that will usher in a new administration next year.
The convergence was at a workshop themed: “Election security management, enhancing national security capacity for a secure and credible electoral process in Nigeria”, which was held at the Ilaji Hotels and Resort along Akanran Road in the Ona Ara Local Government Area of Ibadan in Oyo State.
The zonal workshop, which had representatives of various sectors in attendance, was facilitated by a former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, who was flanked by Heads of Immigration, Customs, the Military, Air Force, Department of State Services (DSS), Correctional Centres, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), among others, who all pledged their loyalty to the nation and ensure violence-free elections next year.
Religious leaders from Christendom, Islamic sects and traditional worshippers, as well as, leaders of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) joined the Oyo State Government to brainstorm on how next year’s national election processes will be secure and credible.
The State Governor, Seyi Makinde, whose Deputy (Acting Governor then) Chief Bayo Lawal represented, hosted the zonal workshop. The IGP was represented on the occasion by the AIG Zone II, Bode Adeyinka Adeleke.
The Oyo state Police Commissioner Adebowale Williams led his men to the workshop while the GOC 2 Div. Major General (Major General Aminu Chinade) was represented by Major U Egbo.
The DSS Director in Oyo State, Mr. Chika Okoye was in attendance just as Controller of Customs, Osun/Oyo Command, Adamu Badulkadir, was represented by G. A. Jayeoba. Comptroller of Immigration, Mohammad Babandede was represented by Ogundipe Odesola. Chairperson of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mrs. Folasade Aladeniyi, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Comrade Ademola Babalola, Chairman of IPAC Apostle Dare Ojo, the OYSIEC Chairman, Mr Abiola Olagunju (SAN), the Chairman of Ona Ara Local Government, Musbau Sanusi, the Oyo State House of Assembly represented by the Deputy Speaker Hon. Abiodun Fadeyi, the Mogajis of Ibadanland, among others.
In his address on behalf of the IG, the AIG Zone II, Bode Adeleke, told Nigerians that the issue of peaceful election in 2023 was a duty of everybody and not only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), or the Nigeria Police Force, stressing that: “People that will go for peaceful elections are people that have decided on their own to have a peaceful election.”
Adeleke used the occasion to advise would-be participants in the workshop: “To know the importance of this workshop in the coming elections. We need to be very serious about this workshop and any lessons learnt from it will be very useful for us and favour the future of this country.
“There are three things we need to take into consideration regarding the coming elections. One is before the election. Election is not just on the day of the election but preparations before the day of election. And secondly, during the election itself which is the most important; while the third one is immediately after the election.
These are things we are going to work on while participating in the workshop. National election is not just the duty of INEC but the duty of everybody. We usually say that the people that are policed are the people that have accepted to be policed. The people that will go for peaceful elections are people that have decided on their own to have a peaceful election.
So, we all have a role to play.” As the facilitator of the workshop, the ex-IG, Solomon Arase, assured Nigerians of a better and more credible electoral process in 2023 as all security agencies were being better coordinated to remove the weak professional challenges of the past and strengthen national security for democratic development.
For him: “The workshop was designed for security personnel who will be involved in the planning, coordination, supervision in the areas of security in the 2023 general elections.
The workshop is necessitated by a realisation that in the past, there had been concerns within and outside the country on the usually less than optimal performance of law enforcement agencies deployed on electoral duties, as well as, poor coordination mechanisms for a lot of security personnel in their operations.
Weak professional capacity
“It was reasoned that this development results majorly from weak professional capacity and knowledge of security agencies as requisites for election and security management in a democratic setting, a gap that this workshop is to fill.
It is projected that the workshop will deepen the knowledge and sharpen the operational capacity of security agents in relation to their functions and act as a veritable forum for perfecting operational coordination amongst all security agencies that will be deployed for the electoral functions across the society.
“The workshop will examine the current state of security and readiness for conduct of the 2023 elections; an overview of INEC preparation and potential security challenges towards 2023 general elections; an assessment of the electoral threat to Nigeria; inter-agency collaboration on election and security management; the legal framework on elections in Nigeria; foreign observers, election observers in Nigeria, civil society organisations; electoral offences and punishments; human rights issues; security concerns; media relations and security functions towards effective communication for elections; and most importantly, managing officers’ mental stress during the elections.
“The long term objective of the initiative is to facilitate the attainment of a credible electoral process, entrench them in electoral practice; strengthening national security through quality, civil-oriented and human rights compliance with security service delivery towards the 2023 general elections and subsequent elections at all levels in Nigeria.”