The Issue: Security at the Polls
The conduct of the 2011 general elections is now constitutionally less than 120 days away except, if by unparalleled ingenuity, the National Assembly accedes to the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for extension till April 2011. And as usual with so many things Nigerian, preparations for the elections have been bedevilled, as a result of lateness in commencing the preparations, which has made even the INEC like several other analysts to ask for more time beyond the current constitutional provisions. Only recently the convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) likened the appointment of Attahiru Jega as INEC chair to that of Lars Lagerback as Super Eagles coach, which was also done very close to the World Cup fiesta and while the SNG leader hoped that Jega would not fail the way Lagerback did with the Super Eagles at the fiesta, what the comparison elicited in me is the wise saying that, ‘it is insanity to do things the same way and expect different results’.
It was in order not to sound as a prophet of doom that I opted to reframe the title of this piece from the original, ‘Why 2011 general elections will still fail’. Just like I found it hard to convince a number of friends before the World Cup fiesta that there was no miracle that could make the Super Eagles perform well even with the appointment of the best coach to replace Amodu Shaibu at that time, I believe it will be a herculean task to convince optimistic Nigerians that the success or otherwise of the 2011 general elections goes beyond Attahiru Jega and the INEC. As Nigerians, we are too accustomed to closing our eyes to obvious realities before an event, with unfounded optimism for the best of results, only to become expert analysts on how we got it wrong when the results at the end of the event proves contrary to our optimism.
The significance of security in the conduct of elections, particularly in Nigeria, cannot be overemphasized. The 2007 general elections and subsequent re-run and by-elections have left us with undesirable experiences regarding the security of electorates, electoral officials and election materials with the entire process completely hijacked by political thugs in several of the polling booths across the country. As a matter of fact, the funds and stress that went into the post-2007 elections judicial contests could have been saved only if the Police had ensured the incidences of ballot-snatching & stuffing were eliminated. And if the truth must be told, with the present situation of things, there is no indication that any measures have been put in place to ensure a different situation in this regard come 2011.
Notwithstanding the commendable efforts by both the Executive and the Legislature thus far on the preparations for the elections as well as those of the INEC in opting for a fresh voters’ register to guarantee credible polls, so long as the security component of preparations is neglected, the 2011 elections will still fail to meet the genuine aspirations of the people. While the INEC has been doing a lot in preparing for the elections and the politicians too have begun preparations with a good number of them already declaring interests in the various elective positions and the political parties already fixing the dates for their conventions, there is doubt if any preparation by the Police to guarantee maximum security during the conduct of the elections is on.
To complement all the efforts and resources already expended on the preparations including of course the over N87 billion of tax-payers’ money released to procure the Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines for the voters’ registration exercise, the Nigerian Police must also adequately prepare for the elections and this must transcend the usual day-to-day policing tendencies for which we know the Police. The Police can help ensure that the true will of the people emerges at the polls by ensuring that at the polling stations, there is no room for the intimidation of voters by political thugs of those who are bent on usurping the voting power of the electorate to impose themselves on the people.
A good example to underscore the security dimension of the conduct of elections was given by Adeyeye Joseph in his column in The Punch of Tuesday, August 24, 2010 in which he made reference to Obosi in Anambra State where thugs ordered voters who were not PDP members to ‘vacate’ the polling booth during the 2007 elections, a situation he said made a young voter to ask the question during an electoral enlightenment programme to the effect that, “what should we do when we go out to vote and party thugs surround us with cutlasses and insist we vote for a particular candidate?” And in the same column, he had alluded to the report of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) on the 2007 elections, which underscored the fact that ‘when elections are preceded by last-minute security preparations, the organizers are only programming them to fail’.
In the same manner the INEC was able to articulate its position to secure N87 billion for the conduct of a fresh voters’ registration amongst other things, it is expected of the Police hierarchy, with the benefit of previous experiences in the conduct of elections, to come up with their requirements for effective security at the forthcoming polls, no matter what the cost is. This must cover the requirement of men and equipments to be deployed in all the polling booths during the elections, such equipments as are needed for effective communication and mobility by the security men on election duty. And I believe that the same way the INEC’s request was treated with national urgency, such a request from the Police would also receive adequate executive and legislative support.
In projecting the idea of the National Youth Network on Nigeria Elections (NYNNE) in its press statement, for effective policing of the 120,000 polling units, there ought to be at least 2 police officers in each polling unit fully armed with adequate communication and mobility resources. This gives us the need for a minimum of 240,000 officers to only man the polling stations. Considering the fact that the Police would not abandon its duty to several other areas of State all because of the elections and may as such not be able to deploy this number of men, that is if we even have up to that figure in the force, NYNNE has suggested the formation of a Joint Elections Para-military Commission (JEPC) to pull human resources from other Para-military agencies like the Civil Defense Corps, Man-O-War and the likes, to join forces with the Police. This is to ensure that away from the old ineffective mode of collaboration among these agencies, there is such a commission as the JEPC with men and officers pulled from the various agencies under a single command that is singularly responsible for effective security at the polls.
Further to this, an intensive training of about six to eight weeks should be conducted under the auspices of the commission for all the officers in all areas of election security covering but not limited to ‘Handling of electorates in quelling untoward situations during an election’, ‘Safeguarding electoral officials and election materials’ and ‘Channeling undue influence by politicians’. With the recent advent of bombing in Nigeria, the Police must also undertake training in relation to this so as not to take chances.
The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should also give attention to advocacy in this regard of election security and not limit their work on the aspects of preparation that concern only INEC. The Network On Police Reform In Nigeria (NOPRIN) should take responsibility to lead the CSOs on this course of action. We all have a responsibility to ensure that the 2011 elections have at least a measurable 80% success and no stone must be left unturned in this regard.
When INEC is able to produce a credible voters’ register and is able to mobilize men and resources to the various polling stations but the Police and other security agencies cannot guarantee security of those men and resources along with the electorates, the desired results cannot be realized. It is in this regard that the necessary efforts must be kick-started towards the emergence of formidable security machinery for the elections.
The Police hierarchy must wake up to its responsibility of ensuring and assuring adequate preparation for effective security at 2011 polls. The CSOs should as well be upbeat about this. This is an aspect of the electoral process that is largely overlooked but eventually ends up being very critical as has been largely witnessed in the recent re-run elections in Ekiti state. Rather than wait to simply put reports of woes together in this regard after the elections, we can join forces together now in ensuring that better preparations are put in place by the security agencies just the same way it is on with the INEC.
Olutosin Ogunmola is currently the National Coordinator of the National Youth Network on Nigeria Elections (NYNNE), a coalition of over 100 youth NGOs and youth-led community organizations, which is championing effective youth participation in the electoral process by combating apathy in the educated youth and vulnerability to electoral violence in the uneducated youth.
A Phenomenon at 50
Hitting the age of 50 is a landmark and a milestone to be celebrated. Fifty years and still counting, Aremo Olusiji Balogun, is a phenomenon and a case study in humanity.
He is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria among others. He is the Founder of Ase Youth Association and several other organisations.
His company Promec Innovative Concepts was a child of necessity when his attempt to register Prince Royal Media Concept (Promec) at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) met a brick wall.
Olusiji Balogun is a media guru and an organizational growth and business development expert with adaptable skills. He is able to use own initiative or work as part of a team. An efficient and effective Human Resources Manager, community worker, excellent communicator at all levels within and outside organizations; he has good problem solving and analytical skills with pioneering spirit.
Olusij’s specific interests include teaching and learning for new product development, business development, participatory social activities, keen insight into the needs of others and with high energy, initiative and focus, proven leadership skills including managing and motivating others to achieve objectives.
An effective community and social worker, he is fluent with information technology and capable of handling executive assignments and leadership. His other qualities include being positive with potential ideas, he has the ability to work with anyone under any condition or situation and contribute greatly to achieving the best goals of the establishment.
Oluwasijibomi Gideon Balogun was born on the 8th September, 1972 in Ondo town to the family of Samuel Olusegun Balogun and Mrs Grace Remilekun Balogun of Ase Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State. Both parents are retired Civil Servants. Olusiji was raised up with strong Christian virtue.
He had his early education at St. Luke’s Primary School, Akure but finished at Muslim Primary School, Ikaram Akoko, all in Ondo State, where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate. He subsequently earned his West African Senior School Certificate in 1990 after attending Omoluorogbo Grammar School, Akure before proceeding to Ala Community Comprehensive High School, Ala-Elefosan, Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He also attended the Institute of Journalism and Nigerian Institute of Journalism, (NIJ), Akure Campus for his Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations, after a sojourn at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) briefly in the Institute of Science Laboratory Technology. He also went to Akwa-Ibom State Polytechnic, for his Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.
He later proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State for his Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration.
He is a Member of various professional bodies.
After leaving school, Olusiji started working as a freelance Journalist and Printer. He started Eminent Leaders Magazine in 1996 and registered Prince Royal Media Concepts with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 1999 which he upgraded to Eminent Leaders World Communications Limited publisher of Eminent Leaders magazine.
He worked with several organisations where he left indelible footprints of punctuality, hard work and professionalism. He worked with Mentors Communications, Abuja in different capacities. At Mentors Communications, he was the pioneer Editor of Rootswatch Magazine. He was Technical Assistant to the Managing Director of Quarry Managers Company in Abuja, headed by the late Abdulhakeem Amao. He was Special Event Manager with ITAD/MotMacdonald/PWC in Calabar and Water Supply and Sanitation Reform Programme (WSSRP) in Abuja. Both projects under the Integrated Water Resource Management European Commission.
He also had a stint with Hatlab Delight as a Business Development Manager and Head of Administration, O.T. Otis Engineering Limited. He resigned his appointment with Successory Nigeria Limited, Abuja, as Head of Project Management, in year 2019 to move his outfit forward.
Olusiji Balogun experience in politics is vast. His team helped installed Olusegun Agagu and Olusegun Mimiko as Ondo State Governors. He was the nucleus of Olusegun Mimiko Campaign Organisation for his second term when he was Editor of Grassroots Vanguard Newspaper of Grassroots Network.
He attempted to contest for the coveted seat of Ondo State Governor in 2020.
His experience in administration is versed as he is an Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), Full Member Institute of Professional Administrators and Managers (IPMA) and many other professional bodies. He is a partner in many companies and Chief Executive Officer of Promec Innovative Entrepreneurship and Science Academy (PIESA) and several other firms.
He currently has his hand in farming as he started Ase Farms Nigeria Limited, asefarms.com.ng.
His hobby includes travelling, reading, surfing the internet and adventures.
Ambassador Bayo Lawal Appointed American Diplomatic Representative in Brazil Ambassador Bayo Lawal, is truly a chip off the block. Born in Osogbo, Osun State of Nigeria, into the royal house of Olumodi Oyipiloye and Asuni Compound (Maternal) Osogbo. Bayo Lawal has become the first Nigerian to receive an American diplomatic status in Brazil. At a diplomatic ceremony held on the 17th of December, 2021 in the executive auditorium of the State Legislative Council, Saopaulo , Brazil, the American Government, through its Diplomatic Mission of International Relations (ADMIR) sworn In Ambassador Bayo Lukman Lawal as one of its appointed diplomatic representatives of the American diplomatic mission in Brazil. The humanitarian and diplomatic mission , which for the first time, included a Nigerian living in Brazil, inaugurated other important personalties in Brazil as members of its humanitarian project scheduled for Africa and Europe in the year 2022. Bayo Lawal is from a royal and polygamous house where hardwork is the hallmark. Though born by a successful business man popularly known as “Were Nise Oluwa”, Bayo Lawal has been a focused, hard-working and persevering youngman. His stint with the Osun State Board of Internal Revenue after his days at The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, set him in a progress pedestal. At the Board of Internal Revenue, his hardworking nature, made him a darling of all. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, before leaving the shores of Nigeria, originated the idea of honouring women in Nigerian society in 1999, tagged “Women Entrepreneur Merit Award” organised by Spotlight Media Ventures. He was then the PRO and Reporter for the firm. Ambassador Bayo Lawal and other personalities like the notable former Brazilian football captain, Capitão Cafu , the Saopaulo State First Lady, Mrs. Bia Doria, the Director of Federal Police, the Honorable speaker of the House of Assembly in Saopaulo , Representatives from several African and European countries witnessed the event. According to the President of the mission in Brazil, Dr. Fernando Navarro, the principal function of the American diplomatic mission of International relations is simple, it is humanitarian, it is helping to make the world a better place to live, he said the mission is to combat hunger and help the needy. Ambassador Bayo Lawal, who has lived in Brazil for over twenty years has worked in different functions in the international relations, he is an administrator who has led his team of excellent professionals within and outside Brazil. He is the presently the CEO of Mab Consulting Services, an International Trade and Business Development company with spread in the South America, Africa, China, USA, Europe and UAE. Bayo Lawal, who served as a Business Consultant at Grupo Empresarial Costa Negocios, taught courses in several English Schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was Business English Teacher For Executives between 1999 – 2014. He worked at the Costa Negocios Group, FGV Projetos, Bimex Comercial Ltda., and many others. In his interview with Heritage news, Ambassador Lawal said “I am dedicating my achievements in Brazil to the Almighty God and also to my late parents, Prince Yekeen Lawal and Mrs. Bolanle Lawal. I also owe this success to my family in Brazil , my friends and colleagues who are always by me.” Ambassador Bayo Lawal said he is ready to work with all humanitarian organizations in Nigeria and overseas, using his office as an ambassador to help better the standards of every Nigerian, African immigrants in Brazil and around the world. He promised to lead projects of housing estates to Osogbo and other necessary locals in Nigeria.Ambassador Bayo Lawal is married to an Italian descendant Brazilian, Mrs. Sara Guerino Lawal and blessed with three children; Nathalie Mariam Oyenike Lawal, Derick Afeez Oyewale Lawal and Allan Khalil Babatunde Lawal.
Iyalaje Tolulola Olajibike Bayode was born in Akure and hails from Oba-Ile. She’s the daughter of Chief Joseph Bayode and Pastor Mrs Bayode.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, RN, BSN, MD, is a trained medical professional but with an unusual passion for the well-being of the less privileged. Having travelled far and wide,Tolulola share an uncanny obsession of giving abandoned children and widows another shot at life,employing both her professional training and God given resources in assisting the less privileged at will leading her to initiating Dorian Home for Displaced Children & Mothers Initiative.
The African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council appointed this Akure born philanthropist Dr. Tolulola Bayode as Head, Social Affairs and Health Cluster Committee. The job description entails implementing the overall goals of the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio in line with the AU Agenda 2063, Sets annual performance targets for the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development portfolio and report on annual progress to Specialized Technical Committees and AU Policy Organs.
In 2009, Dr.Bayode established Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). She’s the CEO/ President. Her personal encounter and experience in the course of discharging her professional duties, most especially in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, Community/Rural Medical Outreach programs, just to mention a few, afforded her a first-hand and comprehensive understanding of the plethora of unsavoury plights of women and children in our society.
Dorian Home is the biggest orphanage home in Africa, consisting of 700 homes for children,500-capacity skill acquisition centre for women, large hall for events, modern clinic and a worship centre. Dorian Home for Charity and Social Development is situated at Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Described as the biggest orphanage home in Africa, the ultramodern facility worth $5million and was finally commissioned on the 14th of October 2021.
Dorian Home is not limited to taking care of just abandoned babies and widows but also focused on research, training, empowerment and mobilize women towards self-emancipation. A glamorous persona imbued with the philosophy of giving hope to the hopeless, creating a better living condition for the abandoned, Tolulola is in the forefront of Safe Haven Law in Nigeria – the leaving of unharmed infants with statutorily designated private persons so that the child becomes a ward of the state with proper upbringing.
At the commissioning of the home, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, called for the provision of adequate welfare for vulnerable children and women in the society. The vice president commended Bayode for making provision of the basic needs of homeless children and women her passion. He said that about nine per cent of Nigerian children were homeless; a figure Osinbajo said seems to be growing rapidly. The vice president, however, called on well meaning Nigerians to join hands with the government to provide adequate care for the homeless children, saying that government alone could not do it. Osinbajo described the laudable project as one that would stand the test of time for the less privileged and empowerment for women in society.
During her speech, the Founder and President of Dorian Home, Dr Tolulola Bayode, said that vision of the project was about leaving a legacy of hope for the orphaned children, widows and less privileged women in the society. According to Bayode, reality dawned on her after the shocking demise of her elder brother, the purpose of man on earth is to touch life and uplift humanity. Bayode said the covenant she had with God to have the home was based on her love for humanity, widow, indigent and displaced children to live a better life. She also appealed to the government to provide adequate security checkpoints along Akure/Idanre Road, adding that the future of any child should not be toiled with. She emphasised that not that she has the resources but has a heart of giving.
Represented at the ocassion, was the governor of Ondo State represented by his Deputy, Mr Lucky Ayadatiwa, who said that the project compliment the administration’s REDEEM agenda of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. He commended the Founder of the home for her initiative. Akeredolu described the project as unique because it focus on the neglected section of the society. Akeredolu said the project would receive the support and patronage of the state government. He said the state government would continue to support the social initiative programmes of the Dorian Home.
Also, speaking at the ocassion, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, urged people to emulate the kind gesture that counts for the good of humanity by trying to make the society a better place for humanity. Alasoadura said that Nigeria would be a better place, if everyone tried to provide a home like heaven on Earth, especially for the displaced and indigent children, just as the orphanage.
Tolulola Olajibike Bayode, as a natural social and talented care giver has continually provided training, education and health consultations in the non-profit entrepreneurial sector to youths in different parts of the world and has successfully maneuvered the delicate balance between dedication to mission in a wide range of settings. Aside her passion for the creating a better living for commoners, she has years of extensive managerial experience in the non-profit sector, with outstanding records in getting initiatives off the ground and flourishing.
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