Meet Lola Adeola-Oni, Chair of the safeguarding National Expert Board
Oge Chukwudozie: What has made you focus on safeguarding in your career?
Lola Adeola-Oni: My motivation has to do with the ever so dynamic and evolving nature of the safeguarding sector, which creates the unique opportunity to contribute to organisational systems, management and processes in a way that makes international aid work for the people affected by crises. I find it particularly interesting that when safeguarding is fully embedded in the organisational culture, everyone (regardless of one's position within the organisation) becomes responsible for protecting the most vulnerable stakeholders. Similarly, everyone is responsible for mitigating risks that are inherent in development programmes. Where organisations have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment and unsafe programming, both donors, implementers and recipients of aid benefit from the ripple effects that safeguarding creates; for instance, through more funding opportunities with greater accountability to the beneficiaries of development interventions.
Oge: What has your experience been with the RSH and what it offers?
Lola: I love RSH's approach of supporting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) to develop their safeguarding systems. This couldn't have come at a better time because with the localisation agenda changing the relations and partnerships between international NGOs/donors and local NGOs/CSOs, these organisations will be better-placed to take up opportunities. Since safeguarding is business-critical for all donors, having local organisations with the capacity to mainstream safeguarding across their processes and programmes makes it easier for donors and INGOs to partner with Nigerian organisations to deliver development programmes.
In addition, the RSH safeguarding mentorship programme is also a brilliant approach to developing and nurturing safeguarding talent in Nigeria. I am well-aware that safeguarding is a fairly new concept and as a result, the number of specialists in this field is limited. I feel that all the capacity building and practical experience that is gained through the mentorship programme is building mentors to become safeguarding experts or professionals that any organisation will be lucky to have.
Oge: As the National Expert Board (NEB) chair of RSH, how do you plan to support RSH work?
Lola: I plan to bring my experience in safeguarding to bear on RSH's activities and programmes. With the support of colleagues in the NEB, we hope to provide the needed technical support, networking, and resource mobilisation for the advancement of RSH programmes in Nigeria.
Oge: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Lola: It has been a real privilege to be a board member and Chair of the NEB. In the coming months, I am looking forward to supporting RSH Nigeria in delivering all the laudable safeguarding initiatives for NGOs/CSOs in Nigeria and beyond.