Communiqué issued at the end of a One-Day Roundtable Meeting on Protecting and Expanding Civic Space in Nigeria: Strategies and Tactics, Held at Bestway Luxury Suites Franca Afegbua Crescent, Apo Abuja, Nigeria Thursday 20th July 2017.
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A one-day roundtable tagged “expanding civic space in Nigeria: strategies and tactics” was organized as part of effort to interrogate and address the concern of the increasing effort by government using laws, policies, and practices to inhibit the ability of citizens to exercise their rights and the freedom of civil society actors to operate freely in Nigeria and in other parts of the World.
The roundtable which was funded/support by innovation for change, aimed at providing the opportunity for Nigerian Civil Society activists, legal practitioners, and social justice advocates to mobilize in the face of an increasingly repressive and hostile working environment, had in attendance representative of the donor community, civil society groups, academia, legal practitioners and the media.
The roundtable during the discussion noted the following observations;
1.Participants at the roundtable commended the efforts of the Nigerian governments to establish enabling laws and policies for the operations of civil society groups in Nigeria.
2.Civic space which was used by individuals and groups to solve problems and improve lives is increasingly shrinking at an alarming rate in Nigeria and in various parts of the World, with only 3 percent of the World’s 7 billion population living in what is described as an open society.
3.Restriction of freedom of association; freedom of expression; freedom of peaceful assembly has resulted in unlawful arrests and detention of civil society actors in Nigeria and in various parts of the World.
4.Poor governance, violence and corruption globally have contributed immensely to the shrinking civic space.
5.World governments alone are not totally responsible for the issues resulting to shrinking space, civil society organisations are also culpable as most civil society organisations lack the culture of accountability and engage in an unhealthy rivalry and competition for funds.
6.Lack of focus, synergy and continuity among civil society organisations have helped to shrink the space principally due to weak mentorship from first generation NGOs practitioners.
7.Majority of civil society stakeholders are not aware of their roles in protecting and expanding civic space in Nigeria.
Participants at the roundtable recommended the following as a way out of the problems;
1.NGOs should be professional in their programming, avoid drawing attentions to themselves and should as a matter of urgency mainstream accountability into their programmes.
2.Diversity of actors in the civic space is needful for growth, as such civil society organizations should learn to be membership based; to fast-track connection with local communities.
3.Strengthening locally based civil society Organisations to be independent and develop their capacities to function more effectively.
4.Civil society organisations and indeed all citizens should be vigilant on policies and reforms that may impinge on open civic space in Nigeria and endeavour to plan their intervention around instruments and legislations that exists.
5.All civil society organization should be committed to promoting civic education across the Country, thematic focus notwithstanding.
6.Information need to be analyze, to become knowledge, to be used for organization and mobilization.
7.Civil society actors can participate in politics and governance without necessarily contesting an elective election.
8.There is the need for civil societies to continue to speak with one voice and in unism.
Participants at the roundtable commended CIVICUS Innovation for change and the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and development for putting together the roundtable. They committed to ensuring reconnection with the citizens and communities to organized and mobilize to ensure the widening of the civic space in Nigeria and beyond.
1. Monday Osasah – African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD)
2. Tim Aniebonam – Global Agenda for Total Emancipation (GATE)
3. Kingsley Nnajiake – Centre for Social Justice
4. Bisola Bisuga – Whistle Blowers International Foundation
5. Funmi Dayo-Olaide – BudgiT
6. Onose Martha- Community Empowerment and Development Initiative, Delta State
7. Edewor Egedegbe- Value Rebirth & Empowerment Initiative (VREI), Delta State
8. Hule Richard – TBNETWORK, Delta State
9. Joy Igwe-Okoye- ANEEJ
10. Rachael Misan-Ruppee- Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI)
11. Busayo o. Moraking- Connected Development CODE
12. Bethel Yaw- Centre For Family Health Initiative
13. Kingsley Nnajioke- Centre For Social Justice
14. Adamu Moses- Centre For Democracy and Development CDD
15. Minof Duanwa- Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN)
16. Ginikanwa Franklin J- Harden Not Your Heart Peace Foundation
17. Ogunsrup Ade- Enough Is Enough Nigeria
18. GAI Cliff- WEP-Nigeria
19. Omeni Jennifer- Rural Women Foundation (RWF)
20. Frank Tie Tie-Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights