Nigerian Elections - The weekend before the big day - not just the rugby

Written by

Neal Peckham - Senior Security Manager in Nigeria

An interesting week! The last-minute postponement (0245am on the day) of the elections by the Chairman of INEC was met by some anger, much derision, but mostly with stoicism by the vast bulk of the Nigerian population. Many had travelled considerable distances to make their vote in their place of registration. The realisation that the voting dates had now been put back one week left many with the conundrum of whether to lose a week’s salary by staying put or accepting the additional cost of having to return a week hence.

For our client, all offices had closed two days ahead of the vote and staff were working from home. The fact that the country had remained largely peaceful following the postponement announcement meant that everyone was able to return to work on Monday. However, the company’s risk mitigation measures have simply been re-cocked and I write this from my flat where I am hibernating until voting is over, the count is done and we are able to gauge the reaction to the voting outcome.

At least last weekend was a useful practice of our communication measures with both WhatsApp and the bulk SMS keeping staff informed. The Government have said that they will not tinker with the Internet as it is critical to the nation’s critical security infrastructure. However, should insecurity bloom in the wake of the election, I am concerned that they may choose to switch off GSM networks. This would seriously hamper our communications as for many, the internet is only available via GSM.

Whilst preparing for the worst we hope for the best. This includes hoping that England beats Wales tomorrow in the 6 Nations – despite tomorrow’s curfew I will be able to pop across the road to take advantage of the Serendip restaurant’s DSTV sports channel (kick off at 1745 local) and, of course, a refreshing bottle of Gulder lager! Have a good weekend everyone!