By Emmanuel Elebeke
Less than 250 days to the 2019 general elections, the CLEEN Foundation and the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC have announced their readiness to mitigate election security threats in the coming elections.
The Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo who announced this on Wednesday at a harmonization workshop on the Electoral Risk Assessment Tools, EVMT and Key performance Indicators, KPI Methodology organized by the foundation and the INEC Electoral Institute in Abuja.
The ED explained that the workshop in collaboration with INEC was aimed at harmonizing electoral tools it developed called Election Violent Mitigation and Advocacy Too and that of INEC, with a view to stem possible electoral violence in the coming states and general elections in the country.
‘‘We are looking at election security threats. What we are doing at CLEEN Foundation with the support of European Union is to work on election security management.
‘‘With our tools and INEC’s tool, which has materials from the election day, we want to harmonize them in a way they will give us area of convergence between the election violence mitigation and Advocacy tool and the Election Risk management Tool of INEC, so that when we go to the field, we are able to see where there might be problems during and after elections and then report those cases to security agencies and election management bodies, so that they will take actions even before the elections.
‘‘The idea is that, once, we have this tool, we are going to release a security threat assessment for all the 36 states and most of the Senatorial zones in Nigeria and we plan to make the report public and will also hand it over to the security agencies.
‘‘We are also going to pay more attention to places where there are going to be likely issues of electoral violence. We have already conducted threat assessment in 12 states, including Osun and Ekiti State, which we are going to publish before the two elections.
‘‘The idea was to also present it to the security agencies, so that they will use it to ensure we mitigate violence in both states. We used the Election and Advocacy Tool in Anambra state and we can say to an extent, the Governorship election in the state was relatively peaceful. We hope that trend will continue in Ekiti, Osun and the 2019 general elections.
‘‘This project actually started in 2012, the idea was to use it for 2015 general elections but we could not because there were many stakeholders that needed to review it and do validation. It was formally used as a pilot during the Governorship election in Edo state and Bayelsa states.’’
On the implementation of the harmonized tools, DR. Olugbuo said, ‘‘Ours is to point out the security threats to the police because they have the primary responsibility to protect lives and property. We do not only involve the Nigerian police, we also involve other security agencies.
‘I think early release of this security report and the citizens understanding that we need peaceful elections will help us have a country we can call our own.’’
The National Commissioner in INEC and Chairman of the Electoral Institute, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu said the tools when harmonized will have the capability of reducing electoral violence in the coming elections.
He pointed out that the idea was to set up a system to regularly predict electoral violence and use the knowledge for advocacy purposes as well as mitigating electoral violence.
‘‘Basically, there are risk factors we are monitoring and after analyzing them, we put adequate measures to forestall their occurrence.
‘‘These tools were supposed to be used in the 2015 general election but was a little bit behind schedule but was used for off-season and off circle elections in Anambra etc was used and it helped us a lot in figuring out the sources of risks and preparing adequately for those risks.
‘‘For instance, when the tool of CLEEN and that of police were juxtaposed, it aided the police in deploying its men well and of course the Anambra election went well with less incidence of violence.
‘‘The harmonization is necessary because a tool like this is never a finished product, everyday, there are new factors and we have to keep tracking all the factors in order to have a violent free elections,’’ said Prof. Ibeanu.
She said the tools when reviewed and harmonized will be deployed on the field, in addition to working closely with consultants, research organizations and locals to get the needed information.