Global Dialogue participants debate the role of civil society and political parties in Nigeria
Participants at a recent Global Dialogue roundtable in Nigeria agreed that civil society organizations in that country do talk and engage with Nigerian political parties.
However the two sometimes work at cross purposes with political parties seeking dialogue on issues of critical importance to politicians, while the larger civil society organizations seek to assist political parties by providing training to administrative and field officers.
These were some of the key observations made at a Forum roundtable event where participants discussed their views at the roundtable on the Political Parties and Civil Society Organizations in Federal Countries.
Participants also concurred that understanding the relationship between political parties and civil society is key to promoting democratic federalism.
The attendees agreed there is a need to encourage greater synergy between civil society and political parties; however they also observed that political parties ought not to provide material support to civil society organizations to avoid compromising the vision or the values of the interest groups.
But there is a fine line between advocacy and the political area, and some civil society leaders in Nigeria have chosen to cross the line and engage in direct participation in politics. This is not that different to federal countries elsewhere where some civil society organizations have moved beyond advocacy and have set up political parties which have competed in elections.
Participants also addressed immediate concerns in Nigeria.
They spoke of the rise of militancy and violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta, which some participants linked to the government not sufficiently attending to environmental problems linked to oil exploration, displacement of minorities from their ancestral lands and growing poverty.
In one sense, unrest within civil society groups in the Delta may have led to the emergence of an "uncivil society,” one participant commented.
The roundtable event was held Nov. 19, 2009. It was co-ordinated by Jibrin Ibrahim, the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development.
Participants of the event included Victor Egwemi, Secretary, NPSA; Barrister Daniel Ehighalua, NCICC; Peter Ocheikwu, OSIWA; Oduenyi Ahanekum, CRDM; Lawal Amodu, CRDM; Clement Nwankwo, Policy Legal Advocacy Centre; Chris Kwaja; Dr Hussaini ABDU, Action Aid Nigeria;
Dr Kabir Mato, University of Abuja, Nigeria; Dr Abubakar Saddique Mohammed, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Professor Sam Egwu, NPSA; Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, CISLAC; Clement Wasah, CAPP; Aliyu Garba, President, Institute of Governance and Social Research; Daniel Nengak , NGBN; Aliyu Yahaya, Lecture, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Eyene Okpanachi, Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan; Professor Okon Akiba, Department of Comparative and International Relations, University of Clark Atlanta; Jide Ojo, Abuja based Public Analyst; Udo Jude Ilo, Forum of Federations; Chum Bagu, UNICEF; Professor Rufai Alkali, Publicity Secretary, People’s Democratic Party, Abuja; Saliu Lukman, Peoples and Passion Consul, Abuja; Samuel Amadi, Kennamani Centre for Leadership and Development; Tunde Salman, Good Governance Team, Abuja; Dr James Jacob, Department of Political Science, University of Abuja; Chinedu Elekwachi, New Nigeria Newspaper; Abbas Jimoh, Daily Trust Newpaper; Wumi Ajibiaro Dada, Senor Project Manager, WRAPPA/GADA; Dr Solomon Abgu, Department of Political Science, University of Abuja; Ahmadu Aliyu, CDD; Esther Yusuf, CRDM; Dr Abubakar Sulaima, Department of Political Science, University of Abuja; Ikowo Attah, DBNTV; David Wegede, DBNTV; Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Country Coordinaor; Joshua Anyacho, CRCR; Mr Okay Madumax, NPC; Terfa Hemen, CDD; Mallam Bappa Salihu, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Taiwo Akinwande, Admin Officer, CDD.