The intellectual arm of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Electoral Institute, which has the mandate to, among other things, train the Commission’s staff for core electoral duties, organized a series of capacity development programmes in March as part of preparations for the Ekiti and Osun governorship as well as the 2019 General Elections.
One of the programmes – the INEC Training Plan (2015-2019) Review Workshop – took place in Owerri, Imo State between 12th and 13th March. It was jointly organized by the TEI and the Human Resources Management (HRM) Department, while the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) provided support.
The main objective was to provide Training Officers from the states and officers from the HRM department the opportunity to interrogate the Training Plan, track the progress recorded in the various stages of implementation and identify successes and challenges encountered at the headquarters, state and local government offices. The meeting also served as a forum to equip the State Training Officers (STOs) with the skills to manage and implement outstanding training activities as outlined in the plan.
Providing the background, National Commissioner and Chairman, Board of the TEI, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu explained that in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, the Commission took steps to establish best practices in its procedures and processes. One of such steps, he recalled, was developing an integrated training plan for the Commission’s staff, at both the headquarters and the states and for which IFES provided the needed financial resources.
He continued: “Series of consultations and workshops were held with staff at all levels, which culminated in the submission of a holistic Training Needs Assessment Report. This task essentially brought to the fore, competency gaps and requisite trainings needed to address them, in line with the Commission’s mission, objectives and organizational goals.
“The five-year INEC Training Plan (2015-2019) was meant to provide a roadmap and serve as an action document to Human Resources Department and Training Department of The Electoral Institute on when and what to train Commission staff on. This workshop will allow participants who are pooled from Human Resources Department, Training Department, as well as State Training Officers of the 36 states and FCT to interrogate the extent of implementation of the plan, the challenges if any, and establish the way forward.”
In his welcome remarks, the acting Director General of the TEI, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris said the workshop was organized against the backdrop of the Commission’s long-term commitment towards professionalization of staff. He revealed that IFES had partnered with the HRM department to develop a five-year Training Plan (2015-2019) for specialized professional and capacity development of staff, with the TEI as the implementing partner.
He said: “It’s about three years down the road and there is therefore the need to review our roadmap. Hence, the overall goal of this workshop is to interrogate the training plan in order to track the progress made in the implementation and also to identify successes and challenges encountered at the Headquarters and in State offices and LGAs.
“I would also like to draw the attention of all participants, especially the STOs to how seriously the Commission regards this workshop and will closely watch your performance as well as the reports of the group sessions and recommendations from the various States.”
National Commissioner, Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo said the workshop’s envisaged goals were in tune with the Commission’s mission and vision to provide free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. He said the expectation was that after the workshop, the beneficiaries would also replicate the gains by training more staff and in states and local government areas.
He said: “I trust that the lesson we derive from the workshop will not only add value to our work, it will also add more feathers to the crown of our well-acknowledged and well appreciated management of the electoral system, which is fast becoming a reference point of success in our region and the community of nations across the globe.”
He also told the participants that the series of trainings being planned by the Commission with the support of development partners over the next several weeks and months “are essentially to perfect our acts in all its ramifications, so that some 2019, we shall have a second-to-none general elections in the country.”
More Training On Election Security
The Facilitators’ Guide, Design and Development for Security Training workshop also took place in Kaduna between 26th and 28th March. It was a follow-up to a similar workshop on the Security and Manual Design Development workshop held in September last year in Enugu State. The meeting was facilitated by Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
According to Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, a National Commissioner and Chairman of the board of the TEI, who was represented by Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, a National Commissioner and also a member of the board, the workshop was designed to enhance the State Training Officers skills, knowledge and attitude. They are expected to, in turn, conduct and cascade the training for security agents at the state and local government levels, who will eventually be deployed on electoral duty.
Ibeanu said: “Security is critical to the conduct of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. Once this is compromised in the electoral process, its credibility is ultimately eroded. As such, elections must be secured right from the pre-election, election day and post-election period.
“This period, which covers the general conduct of elections includes, but not limited to; the time of preparations of elections, voter registration, nomination of candidates, acquisition and distribution of election materials, voting, collation and announcement of results and eventual wrap up of the elections.”
He said security agencies were part of the Commission’s election security network and collaboration under the aegis of the Inter-agencies Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) because it takes election security very seriously. He said every electoral staff must key into the electoral security architecture, as ignorance is not an excuse.
“It is therefore expected that while addressing the challenges of insecurity in the electoral process, the key actors in the electoral process should learn and cultivate attitudes and behaviour that reinforce democratic norms and standards of behaviour,” he said.
The acting Director General of the TEI, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris in his welcome address also described electoral security as “vital” to democratic consolidation. According to him, elections could also be derailed in developed democracies if proper care was not taken. He noted that while the problem was global in scope, it root causes, profiles and intensity vary.
Since the workshop was a follow-up, Idris averred that State Training Officers, in collaboration with the facilitators were expected to review and make quality input into the nine modules of the Draft Security Training Facilitators Guide, which according to him, would be adopted for would-be trainers and electoral security personnel who would be participating in the upcoming governorship and general elections.
The Resource Persons, who are experts in the field of Electoral Security include: Prof. Sam Egwu Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Niger State, Dr. Willie Eselobor, Senior Research fellow, Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan and Mr. Chuta Chijindu.
Participants were made up of all State Training Officers, headquarters and TEI trainers. Others include Miss Julie Anosike who represented the Country Representative of IFES, Mr. Ulrich Thum, the Administrative Secretary, Kaduna State, Mr. Nick Dazang, who represented the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdullahi Kagauma.