Such events will potentially impact businesses and disrupt their operations; organisations can, however, ensure the safety of their employees and business continuity if they have customised security plans and procedures in place.
Nationwide presidential primary elections recently concluded on 8 June, and political parties, including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), voted for their presidential candidates in the February-March 2023 general election. Outbreaks of unrest associated with the electoral cycle, some fatal, have been reported in several states, setting the scene for similar bouts of violence to take place, including during the campaign, officially due to start in late September.
The elections are taking place in a complex landscape, riddled with economic, political and security challenges. Now is the time for organisations operating in the country to review security plans to manage their employees' safety and the continuity of their operations. Such circumstances often require the support of external security experts who have access to local and global expertise and intelligence. We have gathered here some key insights and recommendations from our security experts who are monitoring the situation in Nigeria and supporting clients who are getting ready for the elections period.
Causes and Triggers for an Escalation
Before the polls, the choice of candidates might be controversial, igniting ethnic and religious tensions across states. During political rallies, there might also be protests and incidents to disrupt opponents, create havoc and intimidate people.
During the polls, parties might employ thugs to disrupt polling. There could be widespread violence reported, coinciding with the uptick in militant and bandit attacks. Reports of vote buying or ballot stuffing, as well as any misinformation on social media, could also lead to violence across the country.
After the polls, there is a high possibility of unrest shortly before or after the results are officially out, especially if a contender contests the results. The 2011 elections in Nigeria are an example of what can go wrong. Following the announcement of election results, at least 800 people were killed and 65,000 displaced, following violent manifestations triggered by the belief that the then-challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, should have won.
Our Recommendations for Election Preparedness
In order to make sure that your organisation is ready for the upcoming elections, there are certain strategies you should adopt to mitigate the risks for your workforce and operations. International SOS’ security experts have been helping clients implement these within their organisations, to improve the security of their employees.
Start preparing and planning now
Even if the elections will be held in 2023, there are many incidents in the lead up to the election that can pose a risk to your employees and operations; this highlights the need to start anticipating such risks.
- Assess risks to your organisation in light of the elections and develop bespoke mitigation measures.
- Develop or review security procedures, protocols and contingency plans.
- Ensure you have identified potential triggers (incidents, statements, etc.) which may indicate a deterioration of the security environment and consequently lead to unrest or travel disruptions; this can be used as an early-warning system.
- Ensure management and staff have read and understood your plans and protocols and are comfortable with implementing them.
International SOS’ security team can support you by performing a complete threat and security risk assessment, following which our consultants can develop or review your internal security procedures, protocols and plans.
Identify sources of credible information and heighten your security posture when necessary
It is important for employers to identify sources of accurate and reliable information, and to refrain from sharing information without verifying it, especially since misinformation spreads easily across social media during electoral periods.
Besides developing robust journey management plans, make sure to book adequate and secure transportation and accommodation, prior to the start of the electoral campaign, as the situation might evolve rapidly.
Our clients have access to our intelligence content which is based on information verified by our own security team and our network of security service providers and hotels.
Track your workforce and establish communications systems
Ensure you can locate your staff at all times, and map out your exposure, comparing it to potential hotspots for political protests. If you have employees who need to travel to higher risk areas, it would be best to monitor their movements and establish check-in calls.
With regards to communication, have back up plans in place, along with clear guidelines on whom to contact in case of an incident.
Through our technological capabilities, employers can easily verify where their employees are and if there are any threats in the vicinity.
Train your workforce on preparedness and response
Your staff and travellers should be briefed regarding potential risks they might face and actions that are expected from them. Inform them of new protocols implemented and train them through exercises and drills so they can respond appropriately in case of an incident.
Our security experts can provide customised in-person or online trainings and simulation exercises for your employees.
In summary, organisations should review current mitigation measures, monitor threats, share accurate information with staff and increase necessary security support around elections time. Above all, managers need to be flexible in their planning as elections can be rescheduled at the last minute.
For more information about how International SOS can support your organisation ahead of the elections in Nigeria, please fill out the form below: