When we were told at the office that we have been selected as part of the batch of those who will undergo a Train the Facilitator course in Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Election (BRIDGE), we were excited and curious.Our excitement was borne out the fact that we have heard so much about BRIDGE from few of our colleagues who have been privileged to attend TtF in neighbouring Ghana. We were also fascinated by the fact that we are going to be making history as the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that will be benefiting from the maiden TtF BRIDGE in Nigeria, courtesy of UNDP and its Democratic Governance for Development partners, namely UK Department for International Development (DFID), European Union (EU), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
Finally, on Tuesday, 18 October 2011, twenty-five (25) of us from the headquarters of Nigeria’s main electoral body, INEC and three UNDP staff left Abuja, the nation’s capital for Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom state, South-South Nigeria for the 10-day TtF in BRIDGE workshop. Little did we know that we were in for a challenging and life transforming encounter.
The full import of the workshop dawned on us when we realized that Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, venue of the workshop was located in a world of its own, completely detached from the hustle and bustle of the city. The choice of the venue was strategic to provide a serene and conducive environment devoid of any kind of distraction for the much needed full concentration.
At the opening ceremony on Wednesday, 19 October, 2011, the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, represented by the Head of Department, Training, INEC, Mr. Jude C. Okwuonu thanked BRIDGE and UNDP for organizing the workshop and charged the participants to make the best use of the opportunity to improve their training skills and techniques. He asked the participants to be good ambassadors of the Commission being the pioneer recipients of the BRIDGE facilitation workshop in Nigeria.
Earlier in her welcome address, the UNDP Democratic Governance for Development acting Project Director at the workshop Ms. Titi Pitso congratulated participants for emerging as the beneficiaries of the first ever BRIDGE workshop in Nigeria.
At the end of the first two days of the workshop, participants acknowledged that BRIDGE was no tea party but fully loaded with new and better skills and techniques for delivery at workshops. The two facilitators, Mrs. Tomsie Philips Dlamini from South Africa and Mr. Jide Ojo from Nigeria displayed rare knowledge of BRIDGE, its Modules and Facilitation Skills and their commitment to impact same to the participants.
Most memorable to many of us were the first and second pair presentations when we had to go through self assessment, scrutiny of fellow participants and worthy guidance and counsel of the facilitators. The BRIDGE workshop also had doses of fun, it brought to the fore the hidden talents and also the child in us through the icebreakers, energizers and free expression of emotions. Never has learning been so well combined with fun.
At the end of the workshop, we can attest to the fact that the workshop had gone a long way to improve our planning and facilitation skills. The TtF has enabled us to rediscover ourselves, discover others and made us better equipped to offer our best not only to Nigeria election management bodies but as a catalyst for self development. Moreover, we left the workshop with the burning desire to move to the next level of becoming fully accredited BRIDGE facilitators. Our joy knows no bound having been found worthy in learning and in character and awarded certificates as Semi-accredited BRIDGE Facilitators.
Edited by Chukwuemeka Ugboaja and Aliyu Bello on behalf of all the participants at the UNDP sponsored first TtF BRIDGE workshop held in Uyo, Nigeria.