From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh Lukman, has challenged his party to prioritise development of initiatives towards improving the relationship between government and the Nigerian civil society.
In a statement he issued in Abuja on Monday, the PGF DG, further emphasised that developing improved relations with Nigerian civil society should be part of the strategic goal of developing Nigeria’s democracy and ensuring that Nigerian politics is refined.
The statement he titled; ‘Civil Society and Nigeria’s democratic development, read: “In many respects, the thesis of victimhood as a political strategy to attract patronage or preferential access to support by foreigners who have basically nothing to lose if Nigeria is bad, is the dominant orientation of civil society in Nigeria.
“It could be debated if without the risk of losing anything, foreign support can come with any superior commitment to Nigeria’s democratic development.
“A rational assessment will suggest that commitment of foreign organisations and governments would need to be balanced with corresponding support to push Nigerian government to strengthen engagement with civil society.
“To be fair to most of the foreign organisations and governments providing support to Nigerian civil society groups, there is evidence of support to government as well. Whether the support is balanced such that it is facilitating improved relationships between Nigerian government and civil society is completely a different matter.
“May be, as part of the strategic goal of pushing most of these foreign organisations and governments to support Nigerian civil society to overcome current victimhood mindset, an appeal needs to be made to these foreign organisations and governments to also ensure that support to both Nigerian government and civil society include initiatives to negotiate improved relationship between Nigerian government and civil society.
“Collaboration between government and civil society, if structured and organised and the independence of civil society groups are guaranteed, could facilitate strengthened engagement between Nigerian government and citizens and will be an important requirement for the development of Nigerian democracy.
“How can political initiatives to negotiate improved relationship between Nigerian government and civil society organisation be introduced? As a party founded on the vision of change, there is no reason APC should not prioritise development of initiatives towards improved relations with Nigerian civil society.
“Developing improved relations with Nigerian civil society should be part of the strategic goal of developing Nigeria’s democracy and ensuring that Nigerian politics is being refined and new democratic frontiers, which should promote engagement between Nigerian government and citizens are created.
“Inability to refine Nigerian politics and create new democratic frontiers would continue to legitimise the mindset of opposition to Nigerian government by civil society,” he noted in the statement.
Reacting further, the Governors Forum DG wrote: “Political leaders in the country should be encouraged to develop a more positive disposition towards civil society in the country. To achieve that, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be able to provide leadership in initiating and implementing activities to facilitate negotiations for improved relationship between Nigerian government and civil society.
“Part of the objective should also be to enhance processes of political leadership recruitment in the country, which are hardly planned and largely impulsive. This can be achieved if political political parties in Nigeria broaden membership mobilisation to include engagement with Nigerian civil society as a strategy for leadership recruitment?
“Improved relationship between Nigerian government and civil society groups can be designed to reorient civil society to return to being membership based with high measure of democratic control by the members.
“Being democratically controlled by members should mean that activities of Nigerian civil society organisations accommodate the priority needs of Nigerians. This should translate to high impact on levels of welfare of citizens from activities of Nigerian civil society. Capacity for policy engagement will be high,” the statement further read.
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