Headline Local News Nigeria

Stakeholders steps in to expand Civic Space

R-L Director Corporate Affairs External Linkage NHRC Agharese Arase, DG NOA Dr Garba Abari, Exe Dir Connected Development Mallam Hamzat Lawal. Photo Credit: Julian Osamoto/ Radio Nigeria.

Creating enabling structures to encourage citizens and civil society organisations participation in national development is important, as this will in turn, aid the creation of progressive institutional structures.

However, this had not been visible due to the enactment and promotion of harsh policies and the stifling of participation, amongst many other factors, thereby repressing the civic space.

As part of efforts to to expand the civic space Connected Development CODE in partnership with the National Orientation Agency NOA is putting up a dialogue session with key stakeholders in Abuja, to seek possible solutions.

In his opening remarks, the Director General, National Orientation Agency Dr. Garba Abari, said expansion of the civic space cannot be discussed without touching on deepening the democratic space, which he believed involved inclusion of the youths, women, person’s with disabilities in the politics space.

According to him, although the PWD act has been signed, however conversations on how states are responding to the act should be considered. “the more democratic we claim to be, the more the civic space becomes concentrated”.

Director Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, National Human Rights Commission Mrs. Agharese Arase, representing the Exescutive Secretary of NHRC Mr Tony Ojukwu, highlighted instances of how freedom of expressions and censorship are contributors to shrinking civic space.

She observed that, “the efforts of expanding the civic space had led to more gains than shrinking it” pledging the commission’s readiness to partner NOA and CSOs in strengthen the civil space.

Group photograph with key stakeholders after the dialogue session in Abuja.

Contributing the Executive Director CODE Mallam Hamzat Lawal, reiterated that the role of Civil Society Organisations, remains crucial to the betterment of the nation’s democracy.

“It’s the civil society that provides essential services, advocates for victims, monitors human rights violation to hold powers responsible to account. But for doing this, civil society comes under attack”. We also have the issue of Fake news and disinformation, all of these are undermining our democracy and truncating our national unity.” Lawal noted.

CODE boss added that the organization, with support from Oxfam, would be working on a project tagged ‘Riding on the Digital Media & Communications for Civic Inclusion (DMCCI) where the key stakeholders would be continuously engaged in a discussion to address the civic space issues.

Reporting by Julian Osamoto