THE IMPACT OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION ON NIGERIA’S SOCIO-POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT: AN APPRAISAL OF CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANIZATION

Chapter One: General Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

 

The topic “The Impact of Civil Society Organization on Nigeria‟s Socio-Political Development: An Appraisal of Civil Liberties Organization”, was induced by the level in which the various civil society organizations in the country have strived to combat those issues that have continued to undermine the country‟s bid to social and political development over the years. George Soros, in his book: The Age of Fallibility, Observes that society is suspicious of those who claim to be virtuous and not without justification. The claim of being virtuous is very controversial and is a characteristic of most civil society organizations. Whether they live up to this virtuous claim or not, is open to value judgment, subjectivity and as Soros argues that the burden of proof is certainly that of

the claimant. The implication is that it is misleading to make a sweeping assessment of the civil society organization and their activities. However, it is very necessary to check the extent to which they have made impact to improve public welfare, strengthened cultural, social, economic and political life-wire of the society.

It is also right to say that since the dawn of participatory democracy, the rights of citizens such as the freedoms of expression and of association are seen as sacrosanct. Often, these rights are provided in the constitution and other extart laws of the country. When people outside the corridors of power freely exercise these rights by volunteering to pursue a valued course or by protecting against a government policy, they double and are recognized as civil society group or organization. This tends to lend credence to the assertion of Abbie Hoffman who said many years ago that:

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but its something you do, you participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles (1963:30).

A significant problem in most developing countries is over centralization of decision making and the lack of stakeholders involvement that permit patronage of powerful special interests and high levels of corruption. Scholars are agreed that lack of stakeholder buy-in attenuates the policy process, decreases efficiency and this in-turn affects economic growth. This is where civil society can play a major role by contributing to greater transparency and accountability.

Civil society is a “space” where function is to mediate between the individual and the state while there may not be a clear cut definition of civil society; they more or less agree that it comprises institutions such as

religious organizations, labour unions, charity organizations, community groups, non profits and the media. In advanced and virile democratic systems, these institutions supplement formal processes such as voting and help citizens shape the culture, politics and economies of their nation. Civil society organization tends to strengthen and raise the capacity of citizens to address social, economic and political developmental challenges.

Hence in this study, we attempt to expose or bring to limelight, the impact of these civil society organizations on the socio-political development of Nigeria, laying emphasis on the civil liberties organization (CLO). The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) was established in 1987 as one of Nigeria‟s largest human rights organization. Its formation and emergence can be credited to a renowned Nigerian radical lawyer Olisa Agbakoba (SAN). The civil liberties organization investigates human rights abuses and campaigns,

through litigation, publications and communication with the government on behalf of people whose rights have been abused. It has published a number of reports on police brutality, military decrees, government impunity, the death penalty and annual reports on the human rights situation in Nigeria. Its legal aid project has represented over 4,000 indigent victims of human rights abuses. The organization also undertakes human rights education through its empowerment project, conducting clinics and seminars on rights issues. The government is extremely active in lobbying the government through dialogue and public censor and launching campaigns to end specific government abuses, hence providing an avenue for socio-political development in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Problem

 

The Civil Society Organizations play prominent role as the mouth-piece of the citizens on issues affecting the

people and the society at large, especially in the case of policies and ideas, that might threaten the peaceful co-existence of the citizens and hinder the socio-political development of the society. In Nigeria, the existence of repressive and unpopular governments for more than 20 years serve as impetus for the emergence and proliferation of organizations that seek to challenge the legitimacy of policy, programmes and ultimately the existence of these government. No doubt, the existence of these organizations, assisted considerably to open up space for the expression of dissenting opinions and what could be regarded as alternative voices. Unfortunately this very character and attribute has come to serve as a shield for some opportunistic and self-centered civil society organizations.

Key assumptions that connotes legitimacy to the existence of civil society organizations is that they are expected to be knowledge driven, which means that

actors, or at least members have requisite skills to investigate problems of society, proffer solutions and develop plans to facilitate buy on, by other segment of society and government. To this effect, some questions were raised in the course of this study, questions as; what is the problem prompting the study? Which ends up seeking to find the solution to the questions below:

  1. Is there any relationship between civil society organizations and democracy?
  2. Is bad governance the driving force of civil society organizations in Nigeria?

iii. To what extent has the civil liberties organization influenced the socio-economic and political development in Nigeria?

 

1.3 Objectives of the Study

 

The major objectives of this research is to assess the impact of the civil society organizations, on Nigeria‟s development. The specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To establish the relationship between civil society organizations and democracy.
  2. To ascertain if bad governance is the driving force of civil society organizations in Nigeria.

iii. To determine the extent the civil liberties organization has influenced the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria.

 

1.4 Literature Review

The activities of civil society organizations have over the years engineered several forms of development in Nigeria. Activities ranging from protecting against certain government policies to the organization of seminars, conferences and enlightenment programmes to educate the masses or citizens on the various human rights and

how to kick against abuse on such rights. Civil society organizations, through protest and campaigns have over the years worked to bring about accountability in government, in the sense that the government has become more accountable and responsible as a result of the eye cast on it by the civil society organizations, hence bringing about people oriented policies that further bring about development in the country.

Furthermore, civil society organizations as it relates to their impact on socio-political development have been subjected to different scholarly views in an attempt to ascertain the level of relationship or disparity that exist between the activities of civil society organization and Nigeria‟s socio-political development. On a plain or level ground or better still in a layman‟s term, socio-political development can be seen or comprises of two factors; social development and political development, otherwise known as socio-political development. Social development

on the one hand refers to a broad term that describes actions that are taken to build positive outcomes and prevent negative social outcomes that can adversely affect a community. These outcomes includes issues ranging from crime, poverty, gang activity, school disengagement, teen pregnancy, addictions and substance abuse, obesity, poor health, environmental degradation etc. The aim of social development is to improve the availability of support systems in the community that prevent negative outcomes before they occur or buffer (lessen) their impact. For example rather than reacting to crime after it has already happened, measures are taken within the community that prevent crime from ever occurring.

Good prevention starts with parents before they have children and very directly once conception has occurred. Evidence suggested that negative environments not only affect pregnant mothers but can very directly

alter the architecture of the brain of the unborn child. Social development is about creating environment that enable children and youth to thrive and not merely survive. In other words, social development refers to the ability to create an enabling environment or building a conducive environment for man to survive, while political development on the other hand refers to a durable shift in ideas or institutions that alters the feasible set of options open to solving political problems. The study of political development can also be understood as the study of the evolution of the structures of the state, in correspondence with the changes occurring in the economic and social dimensions of group life. Political development has been defined in many ways that reflect the passage of societies and analysts preoccupations. One formulation dwells on the emergence of national sovereignty and the integrity of the state, demanding respect and upholding commitments in the international

system. Others identify the domestic attributes of constitutional order and political stability, attained through the formation of a settled framework of government, reliable procedures for leadership succession and a consolidation of the territorial administrative reach of government.

Political development enhances the states capacity to mobilize and allocate values or resources to process policy inputs into implementable outputs. This assists with problem – solving and adaptation to environmental changes and goals realization. The concemporary notion of good governance also dwells on efficient, effective and non-corrupt administration. Social and political development seems to work hand-in-hand, hence this research topic seeks to find out the impact of civil society organization in the socio-political development of Nigeria, using the civil liberties organizations as an appraisal.

Bratton (1994:5) has warned of the dangers in appropriating a venerable concept such as civil society when trying to explain contemporary African politics. The dangers arise not only from the fact that the concept evolve on a distinctly European historical and cultural Milliuex, but also because its usage by political philosophers has changed dramatically overtime.

This point was undermined by Pelcynske (1984:3) when he opined that “few social and political concepts have traveled so far in their life and changed their meaning so much”. The practical dimensions of the dangers are evident on the work of analysts such as Mersha (1990:2) and Gold (1990:20) who tried to apply the concept to non-western politics (Ethiopia and China) and found it “unwieldy” and “complex” respectively. Although there is some degree of elusiveness and fugitility in the nature and meaning of civil society, the difficulty in application experienced by some scholars may not be unconnected to the tendency to adopt a “Eurocentric” mind set with its emphasis on individualism and libertarianism when operationalising the concept in non-western settings, rather than conceive of the concept as but one particular example of thinking politically about conflict, how it is carried out, and who has the „right‟ to engage in it” (Calaghy, 1994:237) viewed from this perspective, civil society as we still see after exploring the layers of perceived meanings with which the term is burdened, is a useful formula for analyzing state – society relations, not just because it embodies a core of universal beliefs and practices about the legitimation of and limits to state power, but also because “it provides a vantage point for the study of political practices and social movements, as well as establishing the connections between power contestation and the response of the state” (Chandhoke, 1995:41).

Civil society organization is part of the approach that appears in academic literatures today, here, it regards the society as a certain arena or area of society, the public space between the state and the households, where groups constituted at a level beyond the family engage in public political activity (Bryant, 1990:6), Bratton, 1989:417). Although such political activity may be motivated by the quest for private advantage, it is not “private in the sense of being confined to the domestic or household arena. Instead, it is considered „public‟ in two senses. It entails collective action in which individuals join to pursue shared goals; and it takes place in the institutional commons that lie beyond the boundaries of the household. A characteristic feature of this public space is the normative notion of civility defined not just in terms of simple courtsey and good manners, but a readiness to moderate particular individual and parochial interests in consideration of some common good through

which other‟s basic rights and interest would be protected. It is the acceptance of such collectivity and responsibility to the common good and the positive value of activities meant to safeguard it that are deemed to be at the core of civility and form what Still (1991:13) calls the fundamental virtue of civil society organizations. As John Dewey might have it:

Only by participating in the common intelligence and sharing the common purpose, as it works for the common good, can individual human beings realize their true individualities and become truly free.

Since the dawn of participatory democracy the rights of citizens such as the freedoms of expression and of association are seen as sacrosanct as I further stated this rights gives individuals and members of the society the freewill to join any organization that represent their

interest. Hence in Nigeria, there are so many civil society organizations, they include the following: The Alliance for credible elections (ACE – Nigeria), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (SCIA), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), United Action for Democracy (UAD), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Electoral Reform Network (ERN), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) etc, But this research work will place more emphasis on its case study, The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in subsequent chapters. All these organizations mentioned above, all perform various functions in making sure the government is accountable and responsible to the people by check-making their policies and acting as watch –dogs

on the government which will further bring about socio-political development.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research work will provide relevant answers to the bothering thoughts of scholars who are interested in this topic.

Moreso, it will also provide guideline to policy makers as regards to the kind of policies they make, that will match the desires of a society and subsequently the various civil society organizations in Nigeria. If the policies made or adopted by a particular government in power, does not go down well with the people it might trigger reactions by the various civil society groups, whose impact can marr the government. But if the policy

is a good one, then the government would receive the applause and support of these groups.

Hence, this research work would help enhance the ideas and understanding of scholars and students alike, who are interested in this topic as the impact of civil society organizations would be studied and then one would know what kind of impact to expect from civil society organizations when certain policies are made. It is imperative therefore to note at this point that these impacts could be negative or positive, depending on the goals, objectives, demand, aspiration and modus operandi (modes of operation) of these civil society organizations or groups.

1.6 Theoretical Framework

There are several modes or theories used in the analysis of the political system or phenomenon by political scientists. But this study sees more appropriate

the use of Gabriel Almond‟ Structural Functional Model as a tool for analysis. The structural functional model primarily concerned itself, with the maintenance of order and stability in the society and the necessary arrangement within the society which maintain the said order and stability. Structural functional analysis originated in the biological and mechanical sciences of part of systems analysis. It was adopted and adapted as a mode of analysis in sociology and anthropology as its evident in the work of Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons. It was developed in political science by Gabriel Almond; S.P. Verma who stresses that structural fucntionalism revolves around two main concepts; functions and structures on the basis of which three basic questions could be posed.

  1. What basic functions are fulfilled in any given political systems?
  2. By what structures?
  1. Under what conditions?

Functions have been defined by Merton Robert as those observed consequences which make for the adaptation or adjustment of a given system S.P. Verma notes that while functions deal with the consequence involving objectives as well as processes or patterns of actions. Structures refer to the arrangement within the system, which performs the functions. The basic assumption of the structures function framework is that all system has structures, which can be identified and these structures perform functions within the system, necessary for existence. Thus, it is perceived by Gabriel Almond that all political system regardless of which they are remains in existence. In various political systems, these functions may be performed by different kinds of political structure and sometimes even by structures, which are of overtly, recognizes as being primarily political. Verma notes that there is no one correspondence between functions and structures. A particular function may be fulfilled by a complex combination of structures just as structural arrangement may perform functions which might have different kinds of consequences for the structure in the analysis of the political systems, the analyst compare not simply the political structures since these may not actually be the mechanisms through which all the necessary functions are being performed or they may not be performing the functions originally allotted to them.

Structural functional analysis tries to shift the focus of analysis away from the observable institutional political mechanisms to any area where the actual performances of the functional requirement of the system are located. Political systems are therefore compared in terms of the manner in which structures perform the expected functions in the society. All political systems are

therefore perceived to perform two basic functions: Input and Output functions.

There are four input functions, which includes:

  1. Political socialization and recruitment.
  2. Interest articulation.
  3. Interest aggregation.
  4. Political Communication.

These are three output functions, which includes:

  1. Rule making
  2. Rule application
  3. Rule adjudication

All input functions are seen as being performed by non-governmental organization or system of the society such as: pressure groups, interest groups, schools, family, political parties, independent newspapers, civil society organization etc. The output functions are all governmental and it is the governments and their

bureaucracies which make rules (Legislate), apply rules (administer) and adjudicate between individuals and groups (interpret) on the basic of rules. Political systems can therefore be analyzed and compared in terms of the degree to which their political structures are specialized, whether specific functions are performed through particular structure can perform a number of functions. In some political system such as those of the advanced industrial nations of American and Europe, structures are specialized, political roles differentiated and function specific.

In summary, it is to be noted that why the yard stick by which systems are measured consist of the functions which are performed by the political system the units which being analyzed and compared are the various structure which compose individual political systems. The analyst should attempt to see which structures or institutions fulfill the functions which are ascribed to all political systems. Take interest aggregation as an example, it is defined as the way in which demands are combined in the form of alternative cause of action. In the combination various types of structures can play a part. Civil society organizations are perhaps the structures which usually attempt to combine and process demand under liberal democracy. Moreover, other groups such as trade unions, interest groups or non – governmental organizations can also achieve the same goal, sometimes alone, sometimes in collaboration with one another. These civil society organizations, perform input functions as stated above, placing demand on the government in other to achieve the set goals or objectives for which they were established.

1.7 Hypotheses

With references to the questions formulated at the statement of problem, the following hypotheses have been derived.

  1. There appears to be a strong relationship between civil society organizations and democracy
  2. Bad governance is the driving force of civil society organizations in Nigeria.

iii. The civil liberties organization has influenced socio-economic and political development of Nigeria.

 

1.8 Method of Data Collection/Analysis

The method of data collection used in this work is the secondary source of data. It implies the visitation to libraries, journals, newspapers, textbooks, and articles from the internet. Since the method of analysis is the secondary mode, the method of analysis is the qualitative

method, which implies that it is more of explanatory theories.

1.9 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The scope of this study covers the activities of civil society organizations in Nigeria, with particular attention on the civil liberties organizations (CLO). Many of these civil society organizations tend to have branches nationwide of which civil liberties organization (CLO) is an is not an exception, but what helped in this research work was that their activities are narrowed, having one founder and a narrowed ideology, similar interest, goal and objective.

In the course of this research work, I encountered a lot of problems, that limited the scope and idea of the study, because the author of this work is not an island of knowledge, he therefore depended on library works, where there where few books, relating to the research

topic. Other activities in school, made sure the author had little time given to this work. But it is a thing to be grateful to God for, as this work turned out to be a success.

1.10 Operationalization of Concepts

In the study, some social, political and societal terms were adopted and applied in relation to the subject matter. They include the following:

v Political Development: Broadly the development of the institutions, attitudes and values that form the political system of a society.

v Society: The English word “society can be stretched or narrowed to cover almost any form of association of persons possessing any degree of common interests, values or goals.

v Democracy: The “government of the people, by the people for the people”, based in a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, has had so many definitions, but none has been as simple, yet comprehensive as the one given above by one time. American President, the famous Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) at Gettysburg in November 19, 1863.

v Poverty: This is the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money.

v Human Rights: This is related to civil rights, natural rights, people‟s right and civil liberties, insofar as all of them are concerned are concerned with the rights and liberties of individuals and groups within a free society.

v Good Governance: This is an indeterminate term used in international development literature to describe how public institutions and government conduct public affairs and manage public resources for the betterment of the entire society.

v Bad Governance: The opposite of good governance, involve the mismanagement and misconduct of affairs that would enable development and positive growth in the society.

v Development: The all-round inter-connected progressive transformation of man, society and nature made possible by his incremental mastery over them.

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