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2019: Buhari Pledges to uphold Independence of INEC, Security Agencies; NSA – Expect knowledge-driven, rule of law-guided election security operation.

As the 2019 general elections draws near, President Muhammadu Buhari has re-assured the international community that Nigeria shall continue to advance its democratic credentials within the global space by ensuring free, credible and peaceful elections.

Speaking at opening ceremony of the election management workshop organized by the office of the National Security Adviser for Security Agencies, INEC and other stakeholders, the President, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said, Nigeria’s commitment to democratic values underscores the leadership roles the country has demonstrated in the enhancement of the democratic processes in Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Gambia and Guinea Bissau”.

His words, “In my acceptance speech on 1st April, 2015, following my election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I affirmed my unwavering commitment to Nigerians to promote free, fair and credible elections that are devoid of any form of interference in the activities of INEC.

“I also assured the nation of my firm commitment to ensuring a secure and violence – free electoral process, abide by the extant laws governing the political landscape, and adhere strictly to the code of conduct of political parties in Nigeria.

“These assertions were informed by my conviction that no nation can advance her democratic culture under a security orientation that does not assure the electorates of their personal safety and the safety of the votes in the electoral process.

“The task of ensuring this rests squarely on the shoulders of the Nigeria Police as the lead security agency under the Electoral Act, and other complementary security agencies including the Armed Forces.

“The initiative of the National Security Adviser to organize this workshop is therefore, a right and well-informed action that will undoubtedly, advance our vision in this regard. I, therefore, commend the National Security Adviser for this innovative workshop.

“As we draw closer to the 2019 General Election, I want to re-affirm my commitment towards further entrenching these democratic values.

“As the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I am committed to upholding the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as this is a sacred pathway towards our democracy.

“This stand explains the successes that INEC recorded in the conduct of the Gubernatorial Elections in Ekiti, Anambra, Ondo and Edo States and the bye-elections in some other states where candidates in both the ruling and opposition parties have won elections.

“I assure the nation of my determination to sustain this standard and to continually extend all requisite support to INEC in order to ensure the attainment of their mandate without any executive interference.”

“The will of the people must always drive the democratic architecture of our nation. Therefore, the sanctity of the process must be upheld by all political parties and other stakeholders across political party divide, if the country is to attain its full potentials”.

“I am committed to ensuring that all Security Agencies perform their constitutional obligation in a strictly professional and impartial manner so as to guarantee the security of all citizens, particularly, during electoral engagements.

“In this regard, I am glad to note that the National Security Adviser has assured us in his speech that appropriate leadership is being provided for the purpose of coordinating the Nigeria Police Force and all participating agencies towards ensuring a peaceful and secured General Election come 2019.
“The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission has also demonstrated his readiness and commitment to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019 as observed in the recent elections conducted in some states across the country.

Noting that there are still challenges in the process, he said, “I believe in the competence and strength of character of the INEC Chairman to surmount these challenges and guide the nation to a successful election.”

Earlier in his opening address, National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Mongonu (rtd) said the election security management workshop being organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser for officers of the Armed Forces, the Police and other security agencies whose performance will be critical to the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections is significant in several ways.
“First, it marks the first time in the history of Nigeria that the Office of the National Security Adviser, in furtherance to its mandate, will ensure that all relevant security agencies are coordinated at the most strategic national level for the purpose of deepening their knowledge and sharpening their professional capacity for the fundamental objective of ensuring a general election that will not only be peaceful, but policed within the context of rule of law and best global practices.
“Secondly, the initiative in itself is a further manifestation of the firm determination of the Federal Government to advance our democratic journey by emplacing a new security orientation that is focused on creating a conducive atmosphere for citizens to exercise their voting rights.
Mongonu said the Armed Forces, Police and other security agencies will work as a team and deliver a knowledge-driven, citizens’-friendly, professionally-led, and rule of law-guided election security operation.
“This will produce an electoral outcome credible enough to strengthen the faith of all Nigerians and the international community in our democracy.
While noting that in the past there have been concerns within and outside the country on challenges relating to the capacity of law enforcement agencies deployed on electoral operations as well as operational issues touching on synergy between the different law enforcement agencies in the course of election security functions, he said this development results majorly from the wide knowledge gap of security agencies on the professional requisites for election security management in a democratic setting, a gap this training intends to fill.
“It is believed that the training will act as a veritable interactive forum for perfecting the operational coordination process between the Nigeria Police Force and other complementary security agencies that will be deployed for electoral functions across the country” he noted.
The workshop, which has the theme – “Election Security Management: Pathway to a Credible Electoral Process in Nigeria”, is designed as a train-the-trainer model to ensure that officers who participate can return to their agencies and transfer the knowledge to be gained, and undertake on-the-job orientation for their colleagues.
For ease of delivery of the lectures, the training has been decentralized and will hold at four (4) centres across the country comprising of Abuja, Kano, Ibadan and Awka to enable participants attend at centres contiguous to their locations.
Among the expected outcome of the workshop are, “Enhanced knowledge of security agents on election security management, drawing on global best practices, and stronger inter-agency collaboration orientation towards security governance during the 2019 General Election”.
“Appreciation of peculiar election security threats and specific approaches towards managing them at various stages of the electoral process and Comprehension of the Electoral Act, the Constitution and other relevant statutes as they relate to security functions and processes.
“Development of an ‘Election Security Management Protocol’ that will act as the standard security management template for future elections at all levels in Nigeria and reference for all security agencies and other strategic stakeholders within the electoral architecture of the country.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris and the Director, directorate of internal security in the office of NSA, DIG (Mrs) Peace Abdallah.

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