When CSRT 18-1 alumna Yetunde Olobayo walked out the doors of DKI APCSS Aug. 8, 2018 after her course graduation, she probably thought it would be for the last time.
However, her diligence and hard work paid off when she was invited back June 24 to demonstrate and explain her successful Fellow’s Project to 108 eager Comprehensive Security Responses to Terrorism Course 19-1 Fellows in the Center’s auditorium.
Since Olobayo left the Center last year, her Fellow’s Project has evolved from concept to reality.
“It was a wonderful experience.. I mean, I met a lot of people from different organizations, agencies – civilian and military – we did a lot of things together,” said Olobayo of her DKI APCSS experience as a CSRT Fellow. “The Fellow’s Project was something we all did individually. It was an opportunity for me to present the challenge I had in my office. I had a lot of help from my seminar leaders to guide me on how to present it.”
Not only did Olobayo share her Fellows Project journey with the 108 CSRT Fellows, she also conducted an elective the following day on “Boko Haram,” a militant Islamic group working out of Nigeria. Ms. Olobayo currently serves as the Secretary of Operation Safe Corridor, a federal government of Nigeria initiative set up to deradicalize, rehabilitate, and reintegrate willing and repentant ex-Boko Haram combatants.
Ms. Olobayo also serves as Staff Officer, Joint Operations at the Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigeria, where she monitors activities and operations of DIA state offices around the country. Prior to her current position, she was the coordinator for the Africa desk at the Directorate of Analysis and Production at the DIA. She has worked at the DIA since 2003.
“My Fellows Project was about streamlining and integrating the activities of the state offices in the Defense Intelligence Agency in Nigeria for optimum performance. I designed a strategy which could be done, which was to incorporate the state offices into the Fusion Center at the agency.
My experience at CSRT helped me especially because I had my seminar leaders to guide me and I also had input from my friends. I exchanged ideas with them and it made it all worthwhile for me.”
Apart from basic and advanced intelligence training, she has also trained in intelligence analysis, psychological operations, counter-terrorism and international security. Additionally, she has been trained in conflict analysis and interfaith conflict management.
“Right now, the Fusion Center is up and running and our state offices are doing so much better. Not that it’s without challenges, but we keep moving forward because it’s something that is workable, we have a timeline that we have met and will still continue to improve on it because part of the measure of success is that we’ll keep monitoring and evaluating it so it gets better. I think CSRT and my experience at APCSS made it all worthwhile.”
The Fellow’s Project is an individual project designed to directly support Fellows’ work in their home countries. It starts as a pre-course requirement, whereby Fellows develop the proposed project title and framework, and submitted to seminar leaders on arrival in Honolulu. It is designed, researched, written and implemented by the Fellows themselves, under the supervision of the seminar leaders and completed after the Fellows return to their home countries. Fellows are encouraged to complete their project plan when they return home, which would earn them a Fellow’s Award. The Fellow’s Project is aimed at helping all Fellows to identify and provide practical solutions in overcoming barriers to security cooperation in their own agencies.
DKI APCSS invites select alumni back to Honolulu to brief their successful Fellows Project to a different group of Fellows in a new course. The Center gains several benefits from these returning alumni, including educating the most recent Fellows about the potential challenges and opportunities they could face while trying to implement their own projects, mentoring Fellows with their specific project plans, and more importantly, inspiring and motivating others to strive for excellence and to achieve their own measure of success.
“In Olobayo’s case, her impassioned presentation surpassed our expectations by stirring excitement among her audience for taking the next steps and a determination to succeed in their endeavors,” explained John Gasner, DKI APCSS Chief of Alumni. “Enthused by her approach, one Fellow thanked Olobayo for paving a clear path and for sharing specific guidelines for a similar project. Another Fellow indicated that Olobayo embodied the intended outcomes of his individual project because she exemplified what it means to be an empowered woman.
“We are all so very proud of Olabayo’s accomplishments,” Gasner expressed. “As a gold-standard alumnus, she transformed the knowledge and experience she gained at APCSS into a practical solution that increased the capacity of her organization and contributed to the security of her country and the region.”
After completing two days of mentoring and sharing her experiences with DKI APCSS’ latest crop of security practitioners, Olobayo reluctantly walked out the Center front doors once again, but most certainly not for the last time.