Sunday, January 1, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Article: The Death Of Nigeria's Civil Society

A journalist is writing about the death of Nigeria's civil society!  I laugh.  Laugh!

On Saturday, at our weekly #SpeakOutSaturday in Lagos to call on our government to #BringBackOurGirls we were discussing plans to publicise the fact that next Sunday will mark 1000 days since the Chibok Girls were taken and the issue of media coverage arose.  We were advised that we would need to budget N10,000 for each media house or journalist whom we invited to cover the event because they would not see it as a news event but one that we wanted publicised.  So we would have to pay.

This journalist may not attend #BBOG or other activities of the allegedly dead civil society.  He and his colleagues won't cover them for free, so does he even see important  work being done by groups like EnoughIsEnough, BudgIT and Integrity Nigeria - which have gone beyond 'complain-and-go' or 'press-statement-NGO' to concrete demands for accountability, accountability, accountability.  Against that background I don't know what basis Professor Itse Sagay has for complaining either. 

Is this journalist interested in finding out who the new leaders of Nigerian Civil Society are, or what they are doing or does he prefer that the old warhorses of yesteryear- whose names he recognises because there was a time when his colleagues knew what was newsworthy - should continue to occupy centre stage.  Maybe our perennial  complaint about sit-tight leaders only applies to political leaders.

Life cannot be a perpetual 'Arab Spring'.  But if a journalist only wants to cover 'Arab Spring' type events, then obviously he will think that Nigeria's civil society is dead.  He won't see those doing the hard, unglamorous work of dealing with the nuts and bolts of democracy, strengthening its main component - the people - so that they take up causes for themselves.

Anybody who is not satisfied with civil society as he or she finds it, or whose real complaint is that "certain people who agitated or demonstrated about certain issues in the past are not agitating or demonstrating about the things that I think are important" is perfectly free to do his own agitating or demonstrating.  However, being an agitator or demonstrator is not my job, and indeed, I think that certain organised civil society groups such as the one I led, ought to have their own obsolescence as part of their objectives.  Otherwise there is a danger of not putting enough effort into solutions and instead keeping problems bubbling away so that an NGO can justify its existence.

For the rest, my main focus now will be on single-issue agitation.  But as I said, the issues that concern me, may not be the issues that others are concerned about or worse - may not be the issues that others think I should be concerned about.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @naijama

On 1 Jan 2017, at 12:46 AM, 'chidi opara reports' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <> wrote:

From chidi opara reports

chidi opara reports is published as a social service by PublicInformationProjects

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