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The Role of Civil Society in Sustaining Reforms in Nigeria. By Uche Igwe MNES Publish What You Pay Nigeria/NEITI Civil Society Liaison At the Global Civil Society Forum Singapore Monday 18 th September 2006. Outline. Introduction Civil Society in Nigeria before 1999

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the role of civil society in sustaining reforms in nigeria

The Role of Civil Society in Sustaining Reforms in Nigeria

By

Uche Igwe MNES

Publish What You Pay Nigeria/NEITI Civil Society Liaison

At the Global Civil Society Forum Singapore

Monday 18th September 2006

outline
Outline
  • Introduction
  • Civil Society in Nigeria before 1999
  • Breaking the “us and them” dichotomy: The NEITI Example
  • What Role for Civil Society in Reforms and shaping good governance?
  • Challenges to Strengthening the Engagement
  • The Road Ahead
introduction
Introduction
  • It is indeed true that the old notion of governance ,one which suggested governance was an exclusive domain of governments is fast breaking down.
  • The expanding role civil society groups have assumed, in the development of modern society has become so important that no government desirous of fully harnessing the potentials can ignore this anymore
  • A weak civil society is a symptom of budding political and social instability
  • However, a vibrant civil society is an essential building

block for democratic survival

introduction contd
Introduction.contd.
  • It is therefore longer contentious to say that without the active involvement of civil society, we would live in a world ridden with much more violence and human right abuses, burdened with greater social injustice and equipped with less sensitivity to the plight of citizens!
civil society in nigeria before 1999
Civil Society in Nigeria before 1999
  • I thought it is best to review first generally what constitutes civil society generally
  • Civil Society according to the Centre for Civil Society at the LSE that many seem to agree to is the “space between the family, state and market”
  • Another author defines it as “a bewildering array of organizations, some progressive, others conservative, some civil others uncivil”
  • It generally constitutes of NGO, CBOs, faith groups, women groups etc
  • Out of these the most visible have been the non governmental organizations NGOs.

In Nigeria, NGO activities flourished most as human right groups campaigning for democracy against the Military Rule especially but not exclusively as an aftermath of the annulment of June 12 1993 elections

civil society in nigeria before 19991
Civil Society in Nigeria Before 1999
  • Let me place on record the unrelenting role of civil society in Nigeria in confronting and ultimately frustrating military dictatorship in Nigeria.
  • However the style and tactics that was effective pre 1999 still forms the background of what in my view the response of civil society engagement with our emerging democracy
  • That is to say the tone of the music changed but the dancers on both sides continued with their steps
breaking the us and them dichotomy the neiti example
Breaking the Us and Them Dichotomy: The NEITI Example
  • One thing that lingered from our days under the military is the atmosphere of mutual suspicion that existed between civil society groups and government
  • This generally led weak inter-phase between citizens and their government and general apathy
  • This apathy coincided with the time when the President kick started the reforms in the oil and gas sector by signing on behalf of Nigeria to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
the neiti example cont d
The NEITI Example Cont.d
  • The Multi Stakeholder nature of the National Stakeholders Working Group, a body inaugurated by the President to implement NEITI constituted Civil Society Representatives.
  • Even though the make up of the CSO team in the NSWG received wide criticism from some sections of civil society, however it was the first time government and civil society sat on the same table to collective fashion out a policy direction for our country
what role for civil society in reforms and shaping governance
What Role for Civil Society in Reforms and Shaping Governance?
  • The war against corruption as is going on Nigerian is a step in the right direction
  • However cleaning up institutions without allowing citizens to develop the knowledge and skills that will trigger civic competence at the grassroots will only lead to policy discontinuity
  • In this regard civil society groups who enjoy trust among their members are best positioned to become ready interlocutors of government policy at the grassroots level
role of civil society cont d
Role of Civil Society cont.d
  • Checking Corruption and Abuse of Power (Whistle Blowing)
  • Stimulating and Leading Debates
  • Free Flow of Information: The media is a barometer for testing the effect and efficacy of the reforms
  • Collaboration in Diagnosis and Feed Back
  • Design and implementation of programs. Distinctive in style, symbiotic in intent and complementary in objective
role of civil society cont d1
Role of Civil Society Cont.d
  • Monitoring:

Government cannot effectively monitor herself. Indeed, I respectfully argue fact that the Nigeria is monitoring NEEDS/SEEDs implementation is faulty!

CSO groups should work with government in collecting designing the criteria while the real monitoring should be left with civil

society

  • Strategic Alliance with the Legislature to ensure constituency feedback information sharing
challenges to strengthening the engagement
Challenges to Strengthening the Engagement
  • Government must increasingly tolerate dissenting views in a democracy
  • Collective Effort must be made to build back capacity on both sides, data collection, analysis, research and dissemination of results
  • Constructive Partnership with the media with emphasis on independence and objectivity
the road ahead
The Road Ahead
  • Sustainability of the reforms can only be achieved when the ordinary citizens feel a true sense of ownership and are willing campaign to hold governments accountable to them.
  • This can only happen through revamping the civic infrastructure through grassroots mobilization and social engineering.
finally
Finally

“As democracy spreads around the world the realization is growing that a nation’s political future, its economic strength and its very identity will be shaped by the creation of a more transparent partnership with a vibrant civil society”

J. Brian Atword

Former Administrator of USAID

last word
Last Word
  • As the lifespan of the present administration comes to an end. Our greatest concern as a nation is to evolve creative strategies to insulate the achievements so far recorded from the virus of reversal or the hypocritical politics of duplication by building alliance with citizens.
  • This is a time for action, not inaction