By Palma Ileye
Ahead of General elections, Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Dr Abubakar Audi has said that the security agency has a special strategy to tackle insecurity.
Speaking yesterday during the Opening Ceremony of the ongoing Two Day Capacity Building for the State Commandants and Management towards the 2023 General Elections in Abuja, Audi noted that the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, ICCES, has produced a revised code of conduct and rules of engagement for security personnel on electoral duty.
He said that the scepticism raised by Nigerians and foreign diplomats towards the successful conduct of the 2023 polls due to security concerns resulting from attacks on INEC facilities in some parts of the country, as well as facilities of some sister security agencies, occasioned violence in the political rally/campaigns of certain parties, hate speeches between political gladiators, jettisoned media town hall meetings, have generated cause for concern in recent times.
He stated that despite the recorded incidences, the NSCDC has vested in and will continuously provide an enabling environment to officers and men in order for optimal discharge of Corps’ mandates in this regard, most especially in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructures and other emanating security disturbances that arises from the election cycle phases.
He said that the strategic management workshop of the Corps, will help to develop common policy guidelines that can be used in deepening the capacity of Corps personnel, assist officers and men to comply with global standards of election security management especially at the forth coming general elections.
The CG urged his men saying, “it is expedient that we become conversant with this updated document as strategic commanders and relate the knowledge to our respective subordinates.”
“Few days ago, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu after delivering his lecture at the Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London, was confronted by similar inquiries to the commission’s preparedness in holding the forthcoming general elections in the face of the security concerns, and he appropriately responded that the Nigerian government is providing top priority intervention.
“As a follow up to my welcome address at the training held for heads of all security agencies in October last year, I opined that the training will lead to other knowledge driven initiatives that will envision a holistic training for officers and men of the Corps, cascading same from top to bottom in ensuring a safe, credible and transparent elections in line with best global practices before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
“October, last year, the code of conduct as well as training manual were launched after being revised to align them with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and to consolidate on the professionalism displayed by the security agencies in the held off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states, which created an open window of opportunity to security agencies on joint training for security personnel ahead of the general eelections.
“I wish to reassure this policy quorum, that the learning methodology will be very simple, highly interactive and practically oriented on topical discourse such as avoidance of inter-agency rivalry before, during and after elections, highlighting noteworthy provisions in the 2022 electoral Act, preventing electoral violence through effective Civil-Military relations, electoral offences and punishments.
It is my earnest expectation that this workshop will further strengthen our capacity in our preparations ahead of the general elections, build our confidence as strategic commanders, while ensuring that voters, domestic observers, election sensitive materials and electoral officers’ safety and security are well coordinated.
“I am glad that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, empowered as the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructures, is living up to expectation and will reciprocate same proactiveness before, during and after the general elections.
“The Corps is foremost for promoting effective Interagency collaboration, cooperation and coordination. As such, the Corps is also prepared to give support to the Nigeria Police Force and other stakeholders in achieving an effective electoral security management objective within the elections timeline.
“With less than five weeks to the general elections, the Corps will release very soon, a revised standard operational guidelines on election duties, and other salient election security rules for personnel, which is aimed at ensuring safe and secured electoral processes nationwide,” he said.
Also, Resident Representative of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, KAS, in Nigeria, Marija Peran said that the organisation will continue in promoting democracy, good governance and rule of law and supporting security sector reforms, while expressing fears that violence may compromise the integrity of the 2023 general elections.
While citing the November 6, 2021 election in Anambra as an example, Peran said only 10.27 per cent of the nearly 2.5 million registered voters voted to elect their governor.
Calling for efforts to turn the tide, she said, “Insecurity will impact voter turnout and may affect the 2023 general election unless holistically addressed. It denies people sound representation in governance when most registered voters stay away from the polls due to threats of violence and insecurity. It is not just about the turnout weakening the democratic fabric, but also the colossal waste of human and material resources mobilised for the poll”.