Good Governance: Stakeholders call for synergy between CSOs, media practitioners
A rights activist, Abdulrazaq Alkali says robust civic space is essential for good governance, the rule of law and for enabling citizens to shape their societies.
Solacebase reports that civic space refers to an enabling environment that empowers members of the society to communicate and interact freely, address issues of concern, air grievances without hindrance, engage in dialogue as well as influence various delicate public processes affecting them.
Alkali, Executive Director, Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) Nigeria, a civil society organisation, (CSO) stated this in a presentation titled ‘’ The Role and Impact of Civil Society in Strengthening Civic Space, at a one day roundtable for CSOs and Media Practitioners held on Monday in Kano.
He said it is undoubtedly true that open and pluralistic civic space that guarantees freedom of expression and opinion as well as freedom of assembly and association is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation and sustainability.
‘’Unfortunately, today civic space is under pressure due to politics, repressive laws with increased restrictions on the freedom of civil societies to express, participate, assemble and associate in a civic space, ‘’Alkali said.
‘’Though new technologies have helped civil society networks to grow, but they’ve also given governments excuses to control civil society movements and media freedoms, often under security pretexts. ‘’
‘’The civil society operating environment is getting titter with regulations, civic activists and journalists are being repressed and some are forced into exile.’’
The right activist lamented that civil society movements, political activism and political advocacy in Nigeria have been largely held back due to antecedents in the country’s political history’ and rivalry among the geopolitical regions.
‘’Negative politics of ethnicity and regionalism have created apathy and lack of trust, resulting in many civil societies to fold hands in moments that require collective actions. As a result, civil societies have failed to distinguish their affiliation from the government in a manner that can affirm and promote their autonomous and independent growth. Ultimately, such a posture has undermined the civil society’ cause and has confined them to issues that do not fundamentally challenge or affect the status quo.’’
The ACT program State Focal Person, Hajia Rabi Adamu said the objectives of the program is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria through improving the credibility of CSOs and enhancing their role as independent development actors and drivers of change.
According to her, to achieve this objective, the programme will focus on strengthened selected CSOs, Networks and Coalitions working in EU focal areas in 10 States, across the country.
She said,’’The Agents for citizens-driven transformation (ACT) programme works with civil society organisations to enable their effectiveness, and credibility to become drivers of change in Nigeria.’’
‘’ACT is implemented nationwide, with work in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, FCT, Adamawa, Edo, Enugu, Rivers, Sokoto, Borno and Plateau states.’’
On her part, a media professional, Bilikisu Ado Zango said media collaboration with the CSOs would enhance good governance, transparency and respect for rule of law in the society.
In her paper titled ‘’Finding common grounds in addressing negative perception between Media and CSOs’’, Zango said civil society organisations and the media can play key oversight role in the different sectors and build public support for more accountable democratic governance
‘’Efforts are needed to promote an enabling environment for civil society and the media. Initiatives should include ongoing dialogue to foster cooperation and trust between the government, civil society (broadly defined) and the media, ‘’Zango added.
The one day round table resolved to ensure more synergy between the media and CSOs to achieve the set goals and encourage periodic meetings with the two actors.