By Kingsley Omonobi
Abuja —Ahead of the general election in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari has re-assured the international community that Nigeria will continue to advance its democratic credentials within the global space by ensuring free, credible and peaceful elections.
Declaring open the election management workshop organised by the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, for security agencies, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and other stakeholders, the President, who was represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said: “Indeed, 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, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau.
“In my acceptance speech on April 1, 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 electorate 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 Nigeria Police as the lead security agency under the Electoral Act, and other complementary security agencies including the Armed Forces.
“The initiative of the NSA to organise 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 INEC as this is a sacred pathway towards our democracy.”
In his opening address, NSA, Maj-Gen. Babagana Mongonu (retd) 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 election, is significant in several ways.
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.
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.