CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS & MEDIA EXECUTIVES.
30TH AUGUST, 2022
TOPIC: Social inclusion:
Sine qua non for peaceful co-existence beyond 2023. – Debo Adeniran
Table of contents
What is Social Inclusion and Exclusion?
Who are those Socially Excluded?
Consequences of Social Exclusion
Benefits of Social inclusion
How to Advocate for Social Inclusion
The role of CSOs and the MEDIA
What is Social Inclusion And Exclusion?
Social inclusion refers to a process by which efforts are made to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of their background, in order to enable full and active participation in all aspects of life, including civic, social, economic, and political activities, as well as participation in decision-making processes.
Social inclusion can be approached as a goal, an objective, and a process. Its process affects almost all societal activities, and should therefore be approached from various dimensions
Social exclusion is understood as the condition (barriers and process) that impede social inclusion.
Social exclusion is a process through which individuals or groups are wholly or partially excluded from fully participating in all aspects of life of the society, in which they live, on the grounds of their social identities, such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, culture or language, and/or physical, economic, social disadvantages.
Social exclusion may mean the lack of voice, lack of recognition, or lack of capacity for active participation. It may also mean exclusion from decent work, assets, land, opportunities, access to social services and/or political representation.
It may be described as a direct opposite of social inclusion.
Who are those Socially Excluded?
There is a substantial variation from country to country regarding which groups are subject to exclusion. In Nigeria:
Women and girls,
People living in rural communities,
Persons with disabilities,
Ethnic and religious minorities;
Migrants and internally displaced people;
People without official identification are particularly vulnerable to being excluded.
Consequences of Social Exclusion
Social exclusion robs individuals of dignity, security, and the opportunity to lead a better life.
It leads to agitations from the concerned group
Feelings of political distrust
It is an albatross to sustainable inclusive growth and popular political participation.
Benefits of Social inclusion
Every individual and member of society gains from a more inclusive society
It encourages and promotes individual development and supports empowerment.
Inclusive participation is quintessentially a bottom-up process where action is undertaken by ordinary people.
It enhances the quality, credibility and most importantly, ownership of the decisions taken.
Every one have a sense of belonging
It engenders social cohesion and reduces social vices and crimes.
That is why the principle of inclusive society or “society for all” is not an abstract notion but a very practical policy goal
The Role of CSOs and the MEDIA in Engendering Social Inclusion
Become a voice for social inclusion in your own space
Ask political candidates for their stance on issues bothering on social inclusion since democracy is dependent on the participation and representation of all citizens in democratic institutions and processes.
Collaborate and form coalitions to advocate for social inclusion.
Paper Presented by Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) on 2023: Electioneering Activities: Setting the Agenda for Political Actors Through Reportage and Conversation at the workshop organized by CACOL with the theme : Election and the Troubled Democracy: The Role of the Media and CSO held in Lagos on Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen
I think this is a timely workshop that fits into the current socio-political milieu. The media has a traditional role that includes to:
·If a may add: To Set Agenda for Local, National and Global Sustainable Development Goals
The above responsibilities should be discharged to the public guided by objectivity, truth and transparency in the promotion of the greatest good of the greatest number.
The media has been part of Nigeria’s remarkable history, the country’s ups and downs, the country’s walk on valleys and in the mountains, through thick and thin.
Our society has a long history of media intervention which predated the 1914 amalgamation of Nigerian various ethnic groups.
I affirm that the media has performed creditably since December, 1859 when the first Newspaper, Iwe Irohin was printed in Abeokuta, now the capital of Ogun State, Nigeria. Long before Iwe Irohin, our ancestral communities employed traditional media to communicate and pass information to the people through the organs of traditional government and a vendor who broadcasted information in the night and day, in the market square or from home to home on the administration of the commonwealth.
From 1914, the media took a dramatic character with the publication of Iwe Irohin in 1859. Let me add that Nigeria has one of the most robust media traditions spanning close to two centuries.
The media played a leading role in the anti-colonialism campaign. After 1859, the Nigerian media mushroomed with speed of light. The focal point was a vigorous campaign against injustice, slavery and colonialism.
From 1880, since the outbreak of the Second World war, over 50 newspapers were published in Nigeria. Some of the newspapers were the Lagos Times, 1880,Lagos Observer, 1882, Eagle and Critic,1883, Lagos Weekly Record, 1891, Lagos Standard, 1894, Nigerian Daily Times, 1921. Indigenous newspaperswere not left out. Some of the newspapers published in indigenous language were -Eko Akete, 1922, Eleti Ofe, 1923, Irohin Osose, 1925. and West African Pilot ( 1937). The publications were not restricted to the West of Nigeria In the North, in 1939, the first Hausa Newspaper, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, based in Zaria, began publication. Even though the earliest journalists mostly had secondary education but they had deep knowledge about the challenges of their people. The sacrifices they made were enormous.
For instance, in 1909, there was Lagos Astrological Review published by Adeoye Deniga. He wrote his newspapers with his hand. It is important to mention that the newspaper industry flourished in the era of colonialism with chains of newspapers owned by private individuals. From 1940, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe controlled the largest chain of newspapers in Nigeria. He owned the following newspapers: Nigeria Eastern Nigerian Guardian (PH),Nigerian Spokesman (Onitsha), 1943; Southern Nigeria Defender, (Warri, 1943); Daily Comet (Lagos/Kano), 1944; Eastern Sentinel, (Enugu, 1955), Nigerian Monitor, (Uyo, 1960). He was for 16 years the Managing Director of Zik group of newspapers (Fred Omu-Journalism in Nigeria: Issues and Perspectives-Published by Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ-Lagos Council-1996)
It should be observed that many of Nigeria’s most outstanding anti-colonial leaders were media practitioners like Nnamdi Azikiwe, who established the West African Pilot, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who established Nigerian Tribune in 1948, Chief Anthony Enahoro who was Editor of Daily Times and reputed to have moved the motion for Nigerian independence, Ernest Ikoli, Herbert Macaulay and many others. This shows remarkable contributions of media practitioners to the emergence of the modern Nigerian state.
The growth in print media was trailed by broadcast media with the establishment of the Western Nigeria Television Station in December 1959, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.After WNTV, the South West region set up the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service, (WNBS). The following year, the Eastern Regional Government established Eastern Nigeria Television in 1960. In 1962, the Nigerian Federal Authority established the Nigerian Television Service (NTS) which became the predecessor of the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA)
Next was Wire Service. The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) was set by the Military Government in 1976 by Decree No 19 of 1976. The focus of NAN was purely information and news. Within a very short time, it became the largest wire service in West Africa and one of the largest in Africa. It grew to establish networks in all the major regions of the world including Asia, Europe and America providing first hand information about socio-political and economic developments in Nigeria to the world. NAN also played a major role in providing the platform for the advancement of Nigeria’s foreign policy which made Africa its centre piece as at that period. In 1992, NAN was empowered through Decree No 87 to engage in commercial activities and also to ‘Promote national unity and stability.’ The introduction of profit into its content was to ensure NAN was self independent as a long term strategy yet, the decline of NAN inability to balance commerce with public service remains a dark spot.
It should be noted that the National Broadcasting Commission, (NBC) was established in 1992 by Decree No 38 of 1992. The Decree empowered the Commission among others to advice FG on the implementation of the National Mass Communication Policy.
Today, with some 33,071 television stations in the world backed with 193million hours broadcast, Nigeria has about 120 TV stations with some 96 networks belonging to the NTA. There are some 50 newspapers across the country and a countless chain of online media. There are some 625 broadcast stations in Nigeria. Only recently, President Buhari gave licenses to 159 new Radio stations.
Today, the print and electronic media have become the most dominant sources of information that influence the actions and inactions of Nigerians and also shape the past, present and future of the country. In Nigeria, about 40 percent of the people have access to TV in their homes while over 150million Nigerians have access to radio either through their phones, their radio sets or in their car. The radio is the most influential means of communication in Nigeria.
The Role of the Media is Democracy and Good Governance.
Governing a country is largely dependent on conception, distribution and interpretation of information by the people. Information dissemination shapes the form of stability, instability and sustainable development.
For more than a century, the Nigerian media has shaped the future of the country. The impact has been more positive than negative. The media has continued to set socio-political agenda for the country. The media on many occasions have come under vicious attacks from the state. During the era of military dictatorship, the media was a target. The media did not flinch. The media was one of the few bastions against tyranny and human rights abuses at a very great cost. In the years that succeeded independence, the media took up the battle against the military which ran and ruined Nigeria between 1966 and 1999 with a democratic interlude between 1979 and 1983. In the 13 years of Gen Ibrahim Babangida’s tyranny, the media were shut down on many occasions, offices ransacked and journalists either were killed or disappeared.
The media will therefore continue to stand up to the face of repression, corruption and ineptitude that characterize governance in Nigeria.
The character of the Nigerian Media
The next 100 years after 1859, there was no single media owned by the government either print or electronic until the establishment of the WNBS in December 1959 by the Western Nigerian Government.
However, the first radio station in Nigeria was established in Ibadan in 1932 through Radio Diffusion System using wire linked with microphone. Kano followed in 1944. The first private radio station, Raypower was established in 1994 while the first privately registered Television station, Galazy TV, was established in May 1994.
The post colonial government also did not establish any flourishing print media until the forceful takeover of Daily Times and later New Nigerian Newspapers by the Military Government. While the Nigerian print media has been driven by private ownership, it is not the case for the broadcast media, until recently. There was no single privately owned TV Station in Nigeria until 1994 and there was no privately owned radio station in Nigeria until 1994.
Objectivity, Truth and The Nigerian Media
While journalism has made tremendous contributions to socio-economic and political history of Nigeria, there are challenges that we need to overcome. First, we must realize that the Journalist is a social animal, a human being and an ethnic subject. S(he) is from a particular location in time and space. S(he) naturallyown biases, emotion, feeling, aspiration that reflect culture, faith values and civilization. The temptation of substituting individual consciousness for that of the community is always there. There in the temptation to be subjective.
However, the profession of Journalism is to report phenomena without prejudice either personal or collective. The journalist is not working for himself but for the community. Today in Nigeria, one of the major challenges of sustainable development is the drift of journalism from objectivity to subjectivity. In the past one decade, journalism has suffered unprofessional viral infections and ailments that undermine the essence of the profession itself as the fourth Estate of the Realm. There are a number of factors responsible for this which I may not be able to exhaust in this presentation. I wish to state here some of the challenges that threaten the historical and professional obligations of the Nigerian media:
Reporting DIVERSITY in Nigeria
With over 180miliion Nigerians, majority of who are poor and vulnerable, the media need to design an interventionist framework that allows voices from the valleys to be heard. Some of the diversity issues relate to women, the physically challenged, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, women and children. Increasingly the media space is being dominated by the highbrow political class, the media space is being manipulated by the rich, by the ethnic majority, by religious majority and by the physically able and by men.
The media should realise that there are political minorities whose views needed to be heard to enrich the political discourse. In recent events, the media has focused strongly on its own understanding of the ‘big issues’ mainlyreflecting the opinion of influential politicians, high level personalities as if the whole world is all about them. Issues that affect the physically challenged, women, children and the impact of Government policies on vulnerable groups are largely submerged, reported as footnotes, not reported or viewed with contempt. I provide here a checklist of diversity issues that the media should necessarily address.
How do we report ethnic issues without reflecting our personal biases? Issues of ethnicity should be reported within the framework of global standards that reflect conventions and treaties of which Nigeria is a signatory, in the absence of national and local laws that strengthen self determination. For instance, the coverage of self determination activities including those who adopt peaceful means have been largely reported within the context of violence and banditry forgetting about global obligation of Nigeria to the universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO convention 169, the convention on biodiversity and the African charter on peoples’ right.
The media portray the issues as ‘banditry, unknown gunmen, hoodlums’ which undermined the very serious issues of self determination, exclusion, weak legal framework, absence of the rule of law, poverty and the growing resistance against over centralisation of power and politics in Nigeria. The media sometimes substitute ethnic consciousness with tribalism, supplants the right to self determination with official statements that emphanise ‘threat to Nigerian unity’ without understanding the importance of justice.
Official statements are sometimes reported without a critical appraised within the purview of human rights and available data. For example, self-determination is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all of which recognize the right of “all peoples” as contained in Article 1 of the UN Charter states ‘the right of self determination clearly while in Chapter 1 it also recognizes the integrity of the state. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). We cannot discourse or report conflict and violence in Nigeria without a clear understanding of the history of our country, its emergence in 1914 and the various constitutional conferences, the post-colonial administrators who have failed to include the people in determining the nature and form of their constitution which is partly responsible for the crisis we have at hand today.
INDIGENIOUS ISSUES AND ENVIRONMENT
This is one of the major issues in Nigeria that demands the correct perspective of the media. Communities across Nigeria are showing deep resentment about the encroachment on their land, the threat to their language, their ancestral values and their heritage. This remains a source of conflict across Nigeria. The media has the historic responsibility to put in proper prospective the position of the indigenous communities and their ingrained fear.
The environmental is linked to the survival of the people which is connected to the prospect of peace or instability in Nigeria. Environment has to do with land, resources and spirituality.
The UN stated in the book Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity thus: ‘Spirituality it the highest form of consciousness, and spiritual consciousness is the highest form of awareness. In this sense, a dimension of traditional knowledge is not local knowledge, but knowledge of the universal as expressed in the local. In indigenous and local cultures, experts exist who are peculiarly aware of nature’s organising principles, sometimes described as entities, spirits or natural law. Thus knowledge of the environment depends not only on the relationship between humans and nature, but also between the visible world and the invincible spirit world. ‘Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity- A complementary Contribution to the Global Biodiversity Assessment-United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP-By Darell Addison Posey-pg 4, 1999)
When reporting the environment and the economy, the media space should not be dominated by corporate institutions, multi-nationals and big time investors and their profit. Equally important are in what ways do their activities negate the livelihood of the indigenous communities, their land, their forest dependency, their spirituality and their language? How does the multi-billion dollar Federal Capital City (FCT) impact on local communities, the indigenous owners of the land? While the media report corporate activities on sustainable bases, the pains of local communities where corporate institutions make their money on a seasonal basis are undermined except when the communities have cultural festivals. Issues of environment should take into cognisance the international framework like the The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which “is the international legal instrument for the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has been ratified by 196 nations including Nigeria. Recently, the Indigenous Inhabitants of Abuja came out to speak on their agony. Their land was taken away in 1976 with stipend paid as compensation. Today, they are threatening brimstone. We owe Nigerians the obligation to report their travails in historic context with the right perspectives.
WOMEN AND YOUTHS
We cannot deny the improvement associated with the rights of Nigerian women in the past decades, but there are many rivers to cross. On paper, Nigeria lay claim to being committed to women empowerment and there are laws that advance the course of women. But generally, the Nigeria woman remains constantly disempowered. For instance, women are employed as entertainers, cooks, dancers in political rallies. Their participation is used for photo opportunism, while political actors rarely present their actionable programmes on women rights. Politicians conceive of empowerment as giving out crumbs to women, providing cosmetic assistance that does not establish any sustainable and institutionalised policies.
The media should be the voice for women and youth empowerment. It should be the leading campaigner for greater inclusion of younger people who are today largely attracted to drugs, alcoholism and have provided a potential pool for constant recruitment by extremist groups. There are reports that some 84% of the newly registered 10.4m voters are young people, between the age of 18-30.
As the 2023 general election approaches, younger people have demonstrated their strength. Last year September, young people (18 and 34) recorded 71.33 percent registration out of which 40.63n percent were students. At the end of the last registration exercise, 8,784,677 young people newly registered out of the 12,298,944. Students were 4,501,595 out of the figure. This is an indication that reporting the place of youths in the democratic process is an obligation of the media.
Journalism and professional obligations
The journalist either conservative or progressive should discharge duties professionally. This means the journalists must never substitute personal consciousness for the consciousness of the people. The media should understand issues from their historic contexts. You cannot be a good journalist without understanding the history of your country’s political economy and the main actors. You cannot be a good journalist without a good and deep sense of history. You are not a good journalist if the people you are expected to educate are ahead, at all times and more knowledgeable than you are.
It means to educate, inform and entertain, the journalist requires constant reading, not just consuming internet information but the journalist must keep the mind open to history, to local and global information, to the changing dynamics of socio-political economy so that the media actor will be able to properly educate, inform and entertain the people.
THREAT TO MEDIA INDEPENDENCE
Political and economy influence. The media ownership in Nigeria is skewed in favour of the rich, those who control the means of production and distribution, who are anxious and even desperate to protect personal interests and provide iron cast class-shield for themselves and their contemporaries. The media is constantly confronted with the desire to balance public interests with corporate and socio-economic and political interests of the ruling class.
Increasingly, in Nigeria, politicians, some of who are corrupt are taking over the media space not just as owners but also as managersThe Nigerian state has constantly provided the environment for the domination of media ownership by the affluence glaringly expressed in the form of the high cost of obtaining licenses for either radio or television. The political elite whose actions are expected to be challenged by the media are themselves investing in the media industry.
Public Media Institutions as Political instruments
There is also a major challenge in the way publicly owned media are administered. Even though State TV and Radio stations are owned by the public, financed from public funds, they are administered as if they are the private organs of the State Governors and State Officials. The same applies to media institutions owned by the Federal Government. State owned media at the Federal and Local levels fail to provide equitable access to vulnerable communities and the opposition political parties at the state and Federal levels.
The media also faces sustained threats from economic depression which affects many publishers. Today, only very few media institutions pay sustainable wages while majority of them owe their workers. The consequences are high inter-labour mobility, brain drain, lack of access to working tools, low morale and diminishing interests of young graduates in journalism as a profession.
The State, Terrorism and Free Speech
The media also faces increasing threats from intolerant regimes at the local and national levels which come in the form of arbitrary arrests, detention and even threats to life. The recent case is that of Mr Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters who has been grounded in Nigeria by the Nigerian state since his arbitrary arrest in 2019. These are also tricks devised to subdue free speech.
Apart from state sponsored attacks, the media is facing threats from mushrooming armed gangs, terrorists and bandits who recently have made the media their targets. With a state that cannot even protect her own top officials, how can such a state protect ordinary citizens?
Summary ofWhat Agenda the Media Should set?
·The responsibility of the media is to set agenda for peace and stability, sustainable development and livelihood based on truth, the rule of law and objectivity.
·Set agenda for content and form of governance which includes but not limited to Environmental, economic, political and cultural issues.
·The media should set agenda for reporting diversity, ethnic minorities, the national question, terrorism in historic context without overlooking the class variables. The media should not only deepen the debate but also enrich it.
·The media should set agenda for the drastic reduction of corruption, electoral violence, work for ethnic conflict prevention and peace building.
·The media should set agenda for the physically unable and the challenges they face in assessing polling booths, politics, power and the dividends of democracy.
·Women and Gender issues
·Youth political and economic empowerment while challenging under-aged voting, exclusion and ensure electoral accountability.
·The administration of public media institutions to reflect the content and form of ownership.
·Corruption in the electoral process. This is a major challenge for the media.
·The Media should constructively engage the political aspirants not for the purpose of advertising their programmes but for the purpose of engaging them on their policies.
What is to be done?
·In countering the offensive from repressive institutions and violent non state actors,the media needs a very strong vision not only for collective action but for joint campaign for freedom, justice and media right.
·The pro-media rights groups, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ) need to strengthen their capacity, network with traditional allies like the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC) for collective democratic bargaining.
·Training of journalists should be the kernel focus of all media institutions. Veterans should be engaged to share experiences with the younger generation of media practitioners.
·Civil society groups should invest in media ownership to stop the monopoly of the media stake-holding by the political class.
As Nigerian trudges on through exceptionally tough and delicate terrain, the media should rise to the occasion to confront corruption, mismanagement of public resources, moral decline and ineptitude in high and low places. We do this not just for the society but also to the sake of the very foundation laid by the fathers of journalism, free speech and democracy in Nigeria. Ultimately,a media that condones the errors of those in power end up as victims of the vicious system they nurture and promote.
(Being a remark presented at the “a day capacity building workshop for civil society organizations and media executives” organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) on Tuesday 30 August 2022 at Rights House, 43, Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Off Oba Akran, Ikeja, Lagos State)
I am delighted to be here, representing my Principal, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of the Corporate Accountability and Public participation Africa (CAPPA)at this occasion organized by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) to build the capacity of civil society and the media in Lagos State towards achieving the goal of bolstering support for anti-corruption and social inclusion among critical groups and strengthening policies and programs for anti-corruption at the state level as the country prepares for elections in 2023.
No doubt, the 2023 general elections will be a defining moment for Nigeria. If done right, the elections can help consolidate Nigeria’s democracy and serve as a shiny example for the West African sub-region which faces the grim reality of a recrudescence of usurpation of power by the military and other anti-democratic forces ’,.
Hence, this kind of initiative undertaken by CACOL is essential to help build citizens’ civic awareness of their civic obligations and capacity to engage critical stakeholders to ensure not only the integrity of the elections but also to guarantee that the government that emerges from this exercise work for the public good.Right from its birthplace in Ancient Athens, democracy has always been underpinned and undergirded by citizens’ participation. Therefore, the health of every democracy is directly proportional to the quality of citizens’ participation and awareness. This is why I am particularly elated by the topic of my presentation which talks about “asking the right questions” and “demanding SMART deliverables”.
Nigeria’s democracy is marked by a gross deficit of governance, Over the years, the performance of elected public officials has been seen to be below not citizens’ expectations. Also, campaign promises are rarely fulfilled once politicians are in power. This situation has led to widespread dissatisfaction and distrust in the political system. A study undertaken by the Pew Research Centre in 2019 found that “Only 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country, while 60% say they are not satisfied. Almost six-in-ten (59%) say the statement “elected officials care what ordinary people think” does not describe their country well. In addition, a 57% majority believes that no matter who wins an election, things do not change very much for people in Nigeria”
Asking the right questions
A major factor responsible for unsatisfactory governance outcomes is the lack of productive engagement between the electorate and the political parties and their candidates. Instead of asking the right questions, many voters prefer to settle for inducement and other largesse politicians provide during campaigns. PVCs have now turned into means of earning free money during elections instead of a powerful tool for making transformative changes. Hence, voter inducement was widespread during the recent off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states,. For the poorest of the poor in Nigeria, election day is an opportunity to earn enough to cook a pot of soup rather than a day to define the destiny of the nation. No doubt, this is a sad commentary on the state of democracy in Nigeria.
However, while poverty may explain electorates’ predisposition to inducement, several studies show that many citizens also lack the requisite knowledge to engage political actors. For citizens to ask the right questions, they need to be informed, organized, and active. They also must be equipped with the requisite knowledge “to make decisions about policy choices and the proper use of authority, along with skills to voice their concerns, act collectively and hold public officials accountable”.
For the purpose of this engagement, I have identified six (6) broad categories of questions citizens must always ask candidates and elected public officials. These are:
(1)What is to be done? What are the issues?
(2)How will it be done? i.e., budgeting process, mode of implementation (Public, privatization, or PPP), contract system, or public works? (Lekki Epe Tollgate)
(3)Who will pay for it? i.e., will it lead to increased taxation? (E.g. Tollgates for New Roads)
(4)Who will it serve or benefit? i.e., the rich, the poor, etc. (for instance, ultra-modern markets and housing estates which are often built at the expense of the poor and to which they have no access)
(5)How will it extend to the next generation i.e., sustainability, does it come with usurious debt that will affect the next generation? Is it environmental-friendly?
(6)How will women, youth, and other vulnerable segments of society be affected?
Obviously, the above six (6) categories do not exhaust the subject, nevertheless, they can provide an important framework for citizens to engage candidates and elected officials in order to make informed electoral choices.
The acronym “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It refers to specific criteria to guide in the setting of goals and objectives for better results. The term “SMART” was first proposed by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. Particularly in the field of project management, the idea is that every project goal must adhere to the SMART criteria to be effective. Therefore, when planning a project’s objectives, each one should be:
(1)Specific: The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need
(2)Measurable: The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress
(3)Attainable: The goal should be realistic, based on available resources and existing constraints
(4)Relevant: The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile
(5)Time-bound: The goal must have a deadline or defined end
What are SMART goals?
The goal should target a specific area of improvement or answer a specific need. Because it is the first step in the SMART goal process, it is important to be as clear as possible. For example, note the difference between “I will make lunch” and “I will use wheat toast, peanut butter, and strawberry jam to create a tasty sandwich for myself to eat”. See how specific it is? This example also illustrates the importance of word choice. Not only are you noting which ingredients or tools will be used to achieve the final goal, but you are also articulating who benefits. Details like these color your goal description, making it easier for collaborators to visualize and align intentions with your project.
The goal must be quantifiable, or at least allow for measurable progress. In this step, you’ll choose what your progress markers or project KPIs are and how you’ll measure them. This might mean adopting the right tools or restructuring your KPI’s to something that you can easily monitor. You’ll also need to define who is in charge of measuring your progress, when these measurements will take place, and where the information will be shared.
The goal should be realistic and based on available resources and existing constraints. Typical project constraints include team bandwidth, budgets, and timelines. Project managers should look to data from similar past projects for insight into what’s achievable this time around.
The goal should align with other business objectives to be considered worthwhile. You can also break your project goal down into smaller, equally relevant goals that will keep the whole team focused. Be diligent about eliminating irrelevant goals and subgoals to save significant time.
The goal must have a deadline or a defined end. This can be measured in hours and minutes, business days, or years depending on the project scope. To set your project timelines, get feedback from major stakeholders about their deadline expectations, and compare it to team members’ inputs.
How does it relate to citizen engagement of political actors?
The SMART criteria provide a framework for engaging political actors whether they are candidates or elected public officials. Oftentimes, politicians make outlandish pronouncements and promise that they do not intend to implement. Sometimes, a newly elected public official announces they are unable to fulfill campaign promises because of the state of finance of the government they have just been elected to lead. By using the SMART criteria, citizens and electorates can be armed with a tool for productive engagement and for making informed political choices, and demanding accountability.
Therefore, SMART deliverables can be defined as a set of government priorities and projects that meets the criteria of specificity, measurability, and attainability and that are relevant and time bound. For example, in the area of public education, citizens must demand government projects or programmes that are:
(1)Specific: How many school buildings will be renovated or built anew and how many students are targeted to be enrolled? How many new teachers need to be recruited?
(2)Measurable: How will the project be implemented, how much will it cost and what are the Key Performance Indicators?
(3)Attainability: What is the status of the resources of the state? How will the project be funded?
(4)Relevance: What are the present level of school enrollment and the condition of school infrastructures and how does this project align with the overall objective of the state.
(5)Time-Bound: How long will this project last? Is it within the financial year or within the four-year tenure?
I do hope that I have within the limited time available been able to increase our awareness and knowledge of the tool and skills to engage and promote active citizen participation in the political process. Obviously, these discussions and engagements are so crucial and therefore ought to continue beyond the 2023 general elections. Once again, I thank CACOL for inviting me and hope for greater collaboration between CAPPA and CACOL in the effort to promote anti-corruption, social inclusion, and accountability in governance and political processes.
Policy and Research Lead
Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for its planned investigation of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies for infractions on COVID-19 intervention funds and other procurement abuses.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), disclosed this at the 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja. The 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day has as theme “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds”. The ICPC boss stated in his remarks that the commission had observed discrepancies and infractions in the procurement and payments made by some ministries and agencies after the release and appropriate disbursement of COVID-19 funds.”
The commission, he added, also observed that in some instances the distribution of relief materials or palliatives was chaotic, disorderly and uncoordinated. He also said, “Some implicated MDAs refused the monitoring team access to their records thereby impeding the successful inquiry into their activities. These MDAs are flagged and will be investigated for breaches and infractions of the law and COVID-19 intervention funds guidelines and other procurement abuses. Reports, according to the ICPC chairman, also showed selective distribution, favouritism, nepotism and other biases in the allocation and distribution of relief material or palliatives as well as the high jacking of palliatives by political actors, their proxies, cronies, and affiliates.
“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CACOL had earlier called on relevant anti-graft agencies to probe the intervention funds disbursed to various government agencies and MDAs. We all know that Nigeria was among the first set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and implemented strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Government’s policy measures such as travel restrictions, lockdowns, and restrictions on economic and social activities, aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, negatively affected the livelihoods and food security of most Nigerians especially those occupying the lower and middle-class strata.”
The anti-graft czar added, “Alleviating the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is vital for preventing poverty from deepening and increasing in Nigeria; before the crisis, approximately 4 in 10 Nigerians were living below the poverty line, and millions more were living just above the poverty line, making them vulnerable to falling back into poverty when shocks occur. Hence, it was so strange to notice the abysmal strategies adopted by these agencies of government in the distribution of palliatives and spending of the intervention fund that was meant to cushion the negative effects of the pandemic on Nigerians. We cannot forget in a hurry the rate of hoarding and diversion of palliatives that later led to the raids by famished and already impoverished people in different parts of the country of facilities or locations warehousing palliatives. Some of such also created widespread violence.”
“We at CACOL are happy that the ICPC is beaming its searchlight on these erring agencies now, though it is coming a bit late but it is better late than never. We hope the anti-graft agency would carry out a thorough investigation of the agencies concerned and if found wanting, the officials involved should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has condemned in strong terms the attack by some assailants on the residence of the Labour Party Candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf, located in Ilobu, Osun State.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “We received the sad news of the attack of the residence of the Labour Party Candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf with great shock. It would be recalled that some yet-to-be-identified people bearing arms have reportedly attacked the residence of the Labour Party candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf, located in Ilobu, Osun State. It was reported that, when the attackers could not gain entrance into the building, they fired shots from outside the premises, aiming at the upper floor of the storey building where bedrooms are, and shattered the aluminum windows.
In as much as the true intent of the assailants is not yet known, it will not be wrong to think that the attack may be politically motivated. The Lasun Yusuf that we know doesn’t appear to us as a violent person who can be a threat to the wellbeing of any other candidate. He has been in the national assembly for years and we didn’t hear any report of him attacking anybody physically or even verbally. So he is not a threat to anybody’s welfare, so whoever carried out the attack doesn’t seem to mean well for the good people of Osun state and its politics.
“We have a very strong view that politics should be a family game whereby all the contestants will see themselves as one another’s keeper. We also believe that the candidates contesting the gubernatorial elections in the state should compete under a peaceful atmosphere devoid of violent attack at one another. We believed that it should be a contest of intellect and capacity to deliver, not a capacity to foment trouble since what they are competing to do is governance not war”.
The Chairman further remarked, “Whoever wins the forthcoming election still remains a citizen of Osun state and the same applies to whoever loses and they should cooperate in developing the state rather than engaging in any form of violent attack”.
“We are still amazed at the manner of political desperation that could warrant this kind of attack on the residence of one of the gubernatorial candidates in Osun state. We hereby express optimism that the Police will rise to the occasion by investigating this case and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book and hope such elements would desist from their evil ways before they inevitably meet with their waterloo.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on Sunday the 5th of June, 2022.
In a release signed by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran he noted that “It would be recalled that some gunmen attacked worshippers of St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on Sunday maiming and killing scores of them in the process.”
The attack of these innocent worshippers is senseless, barbaric, condemnable, unacceptable and uncalled for. It is another sad tale of the security situation in the country. It is so unfortunate that the security situation in the country has degenerated to an abysmal low level making all efforts aimed at restoring the lost glory of the security situation to be counterproductive.
“We were particularly saddened by the report that the two Police Divisions in Owo town and Area Command have no official patrol van to get to the scene of the crime despite having almost 50 men standby at the ACPOL, Owo. This is very sad going by the annual budgetary allocation to Security year in year out.”
“We at CACOL would like to call on the government to find a lasting solution to the menace of insecurity in the country by having a proactive approach which will prevent further atrocities of this nature. Since the security of lives and properties is the responsibility of the government, the government of the day should also look into the possibility of completely overhauling the security architecture of the country. We would also use this medium to call on the security agencies to use all legal means to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to book”.
We also express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the Catholic Church, the government and the people of Ondo State over the incident.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls for probe into the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, implementing agency of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land, Rivers State.
In a press release issued by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Chairman, he noted, “It would be recalled that Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, recently called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, a federal government agency saddled with the task of cleaning up the polluted Ogoni environment to account for a whopping sum of $800million fund meant for the exercise.
President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke made the call in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital on Thursday to mark the six years anniversary of the official flag-off of the Ogoni cleanup programme by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Bodo on June 2, 2016, said there is little or nothing done so far. Nsuke was quoted as saying “Not much has been achieved but corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. HYPREP has received over $800 million and additional N6 billion for water supplies. What we have seen is bribery and looting of the cleanup funds”.
The CACOL Boss hinted “The Ogoniland area of southern Nigeria is one of the most polluted places on Earth. The crops are burnt to a cinder, ash and tar smother the land and the wells are polluted with oil, making the water totally undrinkable. Entire communities have suffered as their way of life has been destroyed by the oil industry and pollution has become the norm in the Community”.
“The effect of pollution on the Nigerian delta has been great. As a result of oil spills and industrial waste dumped into the Niger River Delta, fishing as a means of supplying food for the tribe is no longer an option because very few fish remain in the river. The groundwater is contaminated and is not safe for drinking. The most immediate threat to Ogoni people is oils spills, which have damaged their land dramatically. At least one hundred pumping stations and pipelines crisscross Ogoniland. The pipelines run over farm land and through villages; leaks and spills are a common occurrence. The UN says it will take 30 years of effort to clean up the mess. Amnesty International accuses the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell of turning a blind eye to or even helping the military’s use of rape, torture and unlawful killings amid protests against pollution and poverty back in the 1990s”.
It was a huge relief when the federal Government decided to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land by the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP under the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve the under listed functions in Ogoniland and other impacted communities:
investigate, map and evaluate hydrocarbon polluted communities and sites in Nigeria referred to it by the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) or the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and make recommendations to the Federal government.
implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Environmental Restoration of Ogoniland (UNEP Report) as directed by the HYPREP Governing Council.
Initiate, and develop work programmes aimed at restoring all hydrocarbon impacted communities and sites referred to HYPREP
Undertake a comprehensive assessment and mapping of all environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon pollution, in collaboration with NOSDRA
Provide guidance data to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water in Ogoniland and such other impacted communities as may be referred to it
Technically evaluate alternative technologies to be employed to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water
Make recommendations for responding to future environmental contamination from hydrocarbons
Ensure full environmental recovery and restoration of Ogoni ecosystem services for Ogoni people and other impacted communities.
It is so unfortunate that till now the performance of HYPREP in Ogoniland is nothing to write home about. The agency has not lived up to expectations. The situation in the Community has not improved even with the huge financial resources committed to the agency.
The facts are not just embarrassing but criminally so. How could we have discovered crude oil in Olobiri since 1955, yet, we are left behind by other nations especially the Arabian countries that were blessed with the resources years after us? How can we be proud of our record as the sixth oil producing country in OPEC yet the people of the oil rich communities wallow in abject poverty and deprivation worsened by a very inhuman state of environmental degradation?
We at CACOL believe that it is a tragic narration on our nation, Nigeria that despite the huge resources allocated for projects, when it comes to execution of the project, it becomes a sad story. We want to call on the management of HYPREP to account for all the money collected so far and the positive impact they have made in Ogoniland, if any. As an Agency of government, they must respond to the yearnings of the people of Ogoniland and justify the huge resources they have collected.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Centre, he stated, “The arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences is a welcome development”.
It would be recalled that Mr Ahmed Idris, was alleged to have diverted and laundered 80 billion Naira. According to EFCC, verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates. It was also stated that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja. On her part, the former speaker, Patricia Etteh was said to have received N130m through her personal account from Phil Jin Project Limited, a firm which was awarded a N240m contract by the NDDC in 2011. Etteh who is neither a director nor the contractor, but investigation revealed that she was paid a total amount of N130 million by the contractor.
“It is very unfortunate that someone like the Accountant-General of the Federation can betray the trust reposed in him by the Nigerian state, through the very system that trained and supported him till he attained the pinnacle of his professional calling. It is more saddening to note that an exalted office he occupied is being looked upon by many upcoming Accountants and one would have thought he would be more conscientious and scrupulous in his official dealings knowing fully well that many of the younger generation are looking up to him as mentor. The money siphoned by the Accountant-General would have made considerable impact in settling the current impasse being experienced in our tertiary education system which has kept our children at home for some months now”
“For the Ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, her case should serve as a lesson for those occupying various public offices today. They should know that they may be called upon to give account of their stewardship while in office many years after leaving the office.”
“We at CACOL, therefore, commend the EFCC for taking actions against these two people. This is a very laudable and cheering development, considering the multiplier and damaging effects of every strand of corruption perpetrated by public officials whom the country reposed so much trust in and the betrayal they used in repaying such trust. We hope the Anti-graft agency will not tarry in prosecuting them.”
The Head of CACOL added, “The EFCC and other anti-Corruption agencies in Nigeria deserve the commendation and appreciation of all patriotic Nigerians for their resoluteness and doggedness in stamping out corruption from our land. The agencies deserve our cooperation to make them succeed in their mission of bequeathing a more sanitized and corruption-free social environment to all.”
PRESS BRIEFING ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND SOCIAL INCLUSION IN THE 2023 POLITICAL AGENDA: IMPERATIVES AND COMPONENTS, ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) HELD ON 30TH MARCH, 2022.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
Corruption, wherever it occurs, represents a decline in our value system as a nation. If left unchecked, it poses a grave threat to our democratic values and our dream of being an ethical and truly developing state. Corruption is committed by individuals who are driven by greed; they steal state resources, business opportunities and consciences of civil populace that are intended to grow the economy, eliminate poverty and ensure the achievement of development outcomes.
Corruption is commonly but, unofficially conceptualized as the misuse of public office for private gain. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the ”State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” (Nigerian 1999 Constitution Section 15.5). Similarly, the Act establishing the Nigerian Independent Corrupt Practices (ICPC) criminalizes corruption. According to Transparency International, corruption is: “Misuse of entrusted power for private gain” (TI 2013). Corruption includes abuse of power, but it is a larger concept and a much more serious issue than the misuse of public office for private benefits. Corruption is the breach or perversion of legal rules, established procedure, and code of conduct or social norms and values in the service of unethical or illegitimate ends. Nonetheless, CACOL defines corruption as any act of dishonesty.
The issue of corruption has continue to draw lots of attention to Nigeria and controversies in Nigeria as a result of the negative impression, perception and reputation that successive Nigerian government has earned for the country in various areas where countries of the world are ranked as far as corrupt practices are concerned.
It is against this background and the need to shift the paradigm of corruption fighting away from the ruling class that has been committing corruption crimes to the right holders who have been suffering the jeopardy resultant from such criminal activities that the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) have had series of consultative meetings with some prominent Community Based, Civil Society and Faith Based Organizations in Lagos State. The fora presented an avenue for us to intimate them on the roles they are expected to play in prioritizing anti-corruption, accountability and social inclusion issues in Lagos State as the State prepares for upcoming 2023 elections. All the CBOs, CSOs and FBOs consulted expressed happiness and appreciation at the fact that such a meeting had been organized to involve them on the roles expected of them prior to 2023 elections. They also assured us of their continued cooperation and support.
From our consultative meetings with the CSOs, and FBOs in the state, it is a unanimous opinion that corruption in Nigerian environment is an act deliberately perpetrated by policy makers and a contradiction of democratic values and principles by politicians thereby thwarting accountability and transparency. Corruption is systemic in Nigeria leading to a particularistic political culture in which values are allocated based on one’s connections in the society and not merit. The weakening of political institutions and lack of political willingness in combating corruption made it a bane for good governance and development in Nigeria. The efforts to fight corruption were sabotaged by policymakers as anti-graft agencies were politicized and turned into a tool for intimidation of opposition.
Corruption is exhibited by elites in forms of bribery, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Corruption has been institutionalized in the entire Nigerian system including political, administrative, and bureaucratic. Corruption in Nigeria has been perceived as a brazen squander of public treasury by office holders impoverishing the masses and leading to low infrastructural development. Corruption in Nigeria is perceived either in the form of grand, bureaucratic and legislative corruption. Corruption in Nigeria can be seen in the jumbo payment of salaries to political office holders while paying the average worker a meager amount not plausible for survival.
Nigeria’s Fourth Republic commenced on the 29th May, 1999, with great hope and expectations in spite of the fact that the process was initiated and mid-wived by the military that had perpetually held on to political power and so lacked the moral justification to convince the generality of the people of its success. Many people saw the development as a dawn of a new beginning for good governance and democratic dividends. However, the euphoria that greeted the return to civil rule has been replaced by frustration and hopelessness as those elected by the majority to represent the people continue to live in opulence that does not conform to the present economic realities. Campaign against corruption by successive regimes has remained mere rhetoric just as the rule of law is mere pronouncement. Although the country has held six general elections (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019), so far they have all been marred in controversies, fraudulent practices by both the electoral body and the security agencies with credibility and legitimacy crises as end products. In fact, it has been argued in several fora that corruption remains the worst problem challenging and hindering the country’s socio-economic and political development. In recent times, many development scholars and public affairs commentators have concluded that the socio-political and economic woes of Nigeria are rooted in corruption.
Electioneering in most multicultural societies like Nigeria is a deliberate agenda of the elites to polarize voters along ethnic and religious lines. As such, campaign messages are usually tainted with sentiments and hate speeches to divert the attention of the electorate from the real socio-economic problems of the state. Although the 2015 Presidential Election has been described as historic in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic journey, emerging realities necessitate the review of the link between campaign propaganda, electoral outcome and dynamics of governance in the post-2015 era. We have observed that high-level campaign propaganda influenced voter choices and ultimately, contributed to the victory of an opposition party in the 2015 Presidential Election. However, the winning party has substantially failed to deliver some of its electoral promises. Instead, it has deployed the state power in pursuit of sectional interests. We believe that this trend can be reversed if key democratic institutions are established and strengthened in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, political parties and candidates are usually seen as representatives of ethnic or religious groups. Individuals have strong attachment and allegiance to their ethnic nationalities and religion since these variables often constitute basis for political patronage and reward. As a result, voters are incapable of making objective political decisions on the basis of the antecedence and competence of candidates, as well as the ideological leaning of the political party. Rather, electoral choices of individuals are informed by ethno-regional and religious considerations, and pattern of voting reflects deep polarization of the electorate along parochial interests. Indeed, political parties and candidates exploit this deep vacuum to frame campaign propaganda that depicts the north-south dichotomy in order to influence electoral outcome.
Political parties have undeniably assumed an indispensable status in the democratisation process given the critical role they often play in effectuating good governance, the rule of law and human rights protection. Beyond this, political parties are seen as platforms through which the mobilisation and enlightenment of the citizens on the policy direction of the state are made possible. They perform the latter function by organizing opinions and attitudes around sets of issues of public importance which would subsequently be disseminated to the electorate through various the mass media. The essence is to consciously modify the voters’ worldview in line with the programmes, sentiments and proposals of the party in order to elicit either objective or subjective support from the targeted group.
Election promises have come to represent one of the fundamental elements of the representative democracy through which hopes and expectations are created and sustained in any society. It is also the larger context of the strategies which political parties adopt to stimulate voter turnout, motivate supporters to vote in an election and, ultimately, determine the outcome of the election. Thus, given the general distrust against election promises by the citizens, the tripodic linkage between campaign promises, election outcomes and post-election governance have constantly remained the subject of scientific inquiry. Essentially, the crux of the inquest has revolved around: inspecting the electoral promises made by politicians and political parties before an election, determining how it largely influenced the outcome of the election and understanding the modalities on ground to faithfully convert these ideas into reality in the post-election governance.
In advanced democracies like the United States and United Kingdom, election avails voters opportunity to objectively scrutinize and analyze the programs of political parties and competence of candidates. Election messages are designed in line with the prevailing socio-economic challenges of the state. In Nigeria, reliance on ethno-religious considerations for electoral decisions as seen in the 2015 presidential elections have polarised voters along religious and ethnic lines. Inciting messages, questionable promises, hate speeches, and campaign of calumny were features of the 2015 presidential electioneering. Absence of issue-based campaign in Nigeria has led to disputed elections, undermined the emergence of competent leadership, exacerbated social crises, and deepened acrimonious relationship among the citizens.
We are not unaware that faith-based organizations and ethnic-based communities have naturally been part of basic consideration in socio-political power play in Nigeria. Our concern is hinged on those demographics that are only theoretically included but practically excluded in the scheme of administering their lives and that of their progeny. They are those that we have earlier stated – the physically disabled, youth, women, displaced people, people in the rural communities, illiterates, etc. These are groups that have constitutional rights to be included in the scheme of political considerations but have no specific rights that are justiciable, that could be asserted, when such people are excluded in the act of governance. We recognize that faith-based tendencies and ethnic affinities have been adequately taken care of as primordial conditions for elections and appointments as government functionaries, albeit we disagree with using religion or ethnicity as parameter for selecting candidates for elective and appointive political offices and responsibilities. It is our belief that the principle of merit should primarily be upheld towards ensuring that it is only the most qualified in terms of technical knowledge, cognate experience and good quality of mind that are the reasons why a person is elected or appointed to serve the appropriate position of authority.
In order to ensure social inclusion in the electoral process, voters must be given information about how to register, where to register and when the registration centre is open. Women, youth, people living with disability, internally displaced people etc. may also need encouragement to register, in particular where cultural norms imply that elections are a male domain, where there is illiteracy or where there is widespread political apathy. In most countries with high illiteracy rates, women constitute the largest proportion of illiterate voters. In some contexts, it will also be necessary to ensure that information is provided in local languages.
Why is it important to foster youth political participation?
It’s a known fact that in many political parties, the relationship between youth and the parties is strained. To break a cycle of skepticism and mistrust, youth can develop the skills and motivation to successfully interact with political parties. At the same time, political parties could be encouraged to create space for them by removing barriers to youth involvement. In some contexts, youth wings of political parties have played a central role, by providing a powerbase for young members, retaining and grooming them, and reaching out to young voters.
Participation is a fundamental democratic right. It should be an end in and of itself to remove existing barriers to youth political participation. From a more purely pragmatic perspective, if young people have the perception that formal political processes are not accessible and/or attractive for them; this can shape their attitudes for a lifetime, with potentially long-lasting negative impacts on a country’s political culture.
It has been found that in new and emerging democracies, the inclusion of youth in formal political processes is important from the start.
Through their active contributions, democratic values can come to life, paving the way for the overcoming of authoritarian practices. In countries where youth led protests have forced authoritarian regimes from power, significant frustration is likely to arise if youth are not included in new formal decision-making procedures. This might have a destabilizing effect on democratization.
Further evidence suggests that youth are more inclined to participate in informal political processes. Activism, protests and campaigns are common avenues; youth are often driving forces behind reform movements. In the current world and throughout history, there are many examples of powerful youth-led protest movements. Youth also tend to get involved in civic, service-oriented activities, such as volunteering for a social cause. Many young people are more inclined to join a tree-planting project, for example, than to join a political party talking about planting trees in the future.
We would therefore make the following recommendations based on the unanimous opinion from our consultative meetings with the CSOs and FBOs in the state:
1. It is our recommendation based on our findings on the field that there is an urgent need to overhaul the whole gamut of election architecture in Nigeria through aggressive and comprehensive reforms. Firstly, there is need to strengthen the administrative, financial and institutional autonomy of INEC to regulate the use of hate speech during electioneering. In most cases, the Electoral Management Body (EMB) lacked the capacity to punish highly placed public officials who violate extant electoral rules and guidelines mainly due to institutional incapacitation. The institutional weakness no doubt, has hindered effective coordination of the electoral processes by the EMB. Secondly, INEC should be empowered to punish any candidates found to have violated the new electoral law by disqualifying and banning them from participating in elections for a minimum of eight (8) years.
2. The statutory functions of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be expanded to undertake the democratic role of political education and enlightenment of the electorate on the borderline between conventional campaign promises and political propaganda. In carrying out this function, the agency must prioritize use of indigenous languages in order to get to wider audience not conversant in English language. By so doing, the electorate would be well-informed on what constitutes a realistic campaign promise and a mere slanderous propaganda targeted at discrediting an opponent unjustly and scoring cheap political popularity. The NOA should also insist that Nigerians deserve the truth and should be told the truth and nothing more, no matter how unpalatable it may appear.
3. The media must be regulated by law to disseminate objective messages during electioneering. Specifically, it must be restrained from being an appendage of a given political party, showing preference for any candidate and serving as tool to disseminate disinformation and hate speeches.
4. The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) drawn from academia, trade unions, media and social research institutes should jointly conduct background checks on contestants and manifestoes of political parties, and subsequently, educate voters on the qualification of candidates and feasibility of their programs. Most importantly, CSOs should organise and insist on compulsory participation of all candidates in a televised debate. In most cases, presidential candidates abscond from debates and only educate the electorate on the policy direction of their parties during campaign tours. In Nigeria, political campaign tours is an inappropriate means of educating voters since actors utilise the platform to showcase their dancing skills, engage in names calling, and reel out questionable campaign promises.
5. Equivalent media fact-checking tools such as the Politifacts which finds out when politicians are making false claims; Truth-O-Meter that tells the voters whether the politician is saying the truth or not, and Flip-O-Meter that tells when politicians are flip-flopping promises during campaign, should be established in Nigeria.. As a corollary, fact-checker would help political actors to articulate issue-based campaign programmes reflecting the peculiar challenges of Nigerian state rather than relying on disinformation as viable means of accessing political power. The utilization of the fact-checking tools in Nigeria could help to limit hate speeches and spread of questionable campaign messages. Again, it will serve as a viable instrument for deepening democracy in Nigeria. However, the absence of these tools suggests that political parties and candidates are unhindered from coining and spreading controversial electoral promises.
6. Financial flow of political parties in terms of their income and expenditures should be closely monitored and the political actors should be compelled to give blow-by-blow account with verifiable evidence in terms of bank statements, payment receipts, etc. to ensure that they don’t overspend and they should not receive cash donations from their patrons or members. All contributions and payments to their service providers, consultants, etc. should be made through financial institutional transfers. Moreover, no politician should be allowed to distribute cash to electorates or people at the campaign grounds. The distribution of palliatives like food, household items and the rest should be limited to electorates at ward level and it should be tied to the needs of the people. The cost of the palliatives and the expenses incurred to distribute it should be manifestly accounted for. Politicians who have emerged as candidate of political parties should not distribute palliatives at all while aspirants at their ward level can do that in order to ameliorate some of the sufferings of their constituents but as soon as they emerge as candidate of their political party they should not indulge themselves in such things.
7. We would also lend our voice to the call for speedy determination of so many high profile corruption cases dotting the various temples of justice across the country. The cases involving Stella Oduah, former Minister of aviation, Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State Governor, Rochas Okorocha former Imo State Governor, Theodore Orji, former Abia State Governor and many other serving Senators still having corruption cases hanging on their necks should be dispensed with as soon as possible so as to serve as deterrents to others.
It is generally believed that corruption is responsible for the perpetual underdevelopment of our country and this had been enabled directly and indirectly by the custodian of the governing instrument which in most cases were not freely given by the citizens through their periodic voting exercises. We believe that this can be corrected if all the available legal instruments are diligently implemented by the wielders of political power imbued by the persistent demand of the citizenry. The citizenry can force the hands of the government officials backward from making corruption a state policy by perpetual monitoring of their activities in and outside of their places of official engagements and questioning them on issues of probity, accountability as well as insisting on the observation of all democratic principles and ethos. This is what CACOL has taken upon itself in collaboration with willing hands in the civil society and the populace to engender with a view to ensuring that corrupt elected officials are not welcome back into their ancestral communities. We believe this will deter others who flaunt ill-gotten wealth from continuing in that trade and ensuring that the innocents of their communities are not polluted to the extent that upcoming political elements will not see corruption as a dignifying career that they could adopt just like internet fraudulent practices is gaining ground among the younger generation.
Thank you for your attention.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the members of the National Assembly for voting against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director of administration and programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “CACOL as an anti-corruption and transparency in leadership organization received with rude shock and embarrassment, the news that members of the National Assembly voted against gender bills in the constitutional amendment process. We found it funny that the national assembly voted against bills seeking to give women more opportunities in leadership and governance at this age of our national life. Their action has sparked a protest by some women at the national assembly, who accused the lawmakers of bias. Similarly, Pauline Tallen, Minister of women affairs, said the male lawmakers who voted against the gender bills have no respect for women.”
“We are aware that when it comes to voting, more women vote than men and we believe that the quality of leadership in the country will not change if the scope of selection is not widened to accommodate more youths and women. We believed that setting aside 35 percent of the elective positions for women would have made a lot of sense because right now, the level of underrepresentation of women in key positions and decision making is alarming. Even at political party level, women should not be given only the position of women leader while all other positions are occupied by men”.
Although at our own level we believe that the bill would have been differently couched so that it will not give unintended meaning to the user either today or in future. Instead of ‘Gender parity’ or ‘Gender equality’ gender equity would have been more appropriate because it may be very difficult to achieve gender parity or gender equality but if we use ‘gender equity’ it will make a lot of sense to several people. Also, instead of ‘Gender balancing’, ‘Gender justice’ ought to have been used.
“We are of the opinion that affirmative actions should be limited to appointive positions rather than elective. The polity should not insist on affirmative actions for elective positions because if there are no candidates of a particular gender contesting, you can’t force people of that gender to contest elections but it is easier to apply it for appointive positions. We must also encourage political parties generally to encourage gender affirmative actions, meaning that there should be significant motivations for all genders to contest elections just like the different demography that exist within the parties. It will not be right to insist that if a political party does not have 30 percent or does not succeed in having the percentage stipulated for different gender the party cannot contest election.”
“It is against this background that CACOL has come out to seriously frown at the action of those lawmakers who threw the gender bills overboard without considering the effects on the psyche of our womenfolk in particular and the nation in general. The contributions of some notable women like Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, late Prof. Dora Akunyili to mention a few to the development of the country cannot be easily overlooked. By voting against this bill, these set of lawmakers are inadvertently denying the country of more capable hands of womenfolk who can contribute positively to the greatness of our nation”.
“Clearly, Nigerians would be shortchanged and greater harm would be done to the country by denying us the opportunity of allowing more competent and capable womenfolk to serve their fatherland in various capacities. We have reduced women only to the role of the voters, who are only relevant for the purposes of election. It is quite unfortunate that this is coming at a time when many other countries, even in the African region, are opening up their political space for more women participation”.