The Executive Director of the African Heritage Institution (Afriheritage), Enugu, Prof Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, has called for a more collaborative effort between and among civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country, in order to achieve greater organizational goals and make more impacts on the society.
Speaking during a meeting of a group of CSOs and NGos at the AfriHeritage office in Enugu, South-east Nigeria, the director whose institution (AfriHeritage), is reputed to be a world-class socio-economic cum political think-tank enjoined members of the civil society group to synergize so as to optimize their capacity and make more progress in their various services to their communities and to the greater society.
Prof Okeke-Uzodike, decried the present system whereby many organizations of similar focus go about their assignments individually and end up achieving little or nothing whereas such organizations could pool resources together, and synergize for a greater impact.
“As such, we need to ask a fundamental question: “is anyone in government (that matters) actually listening to much of what we have to say as CSOs? If so, where exactly can we find the evidence? I do not think so; otherwise Nigeria would look far more different and our people would be much better off than we are right now. The statistical evidence is damming”
It is for this reason than we thought that we should call this meeting of CSOs. Our goal is to see whether it is feasible to develop an alliance of CSOs with a view to see how best to combine interests and develop partnerships towards more effective engagement for effective change in Nigeria” he said.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Prof Okeke-Uzodike reminded the participants the core objectives and responsibilities CSOs and NGOs owe the society. According to him: “NGOs and CSOs generally are the most active institutions within civil society: Because of the weaknesses and tendencies of governments and business interests, Civil Society Organizations are indispensable institutions in every modern society regardless of its location and its level of development.
“Everywhere, because CSOs (usually) have their ears closer to the ground than government, one of their most important roles is to serve as bellwethers for identifying problems long before governments understand that the problems exist or begin to appreciate the enormity of the issues involved”.
According to Mr Chibundu Ucheagbu of Better Community Life Initiative, Enugu, the NGOs have not performed as expected due to a myriad of challenges particularly funding as well as lack of cooperation from government officials who stifle the free-flow of information which NGOs need to do their work.
At the end, the NGOs and CSOs resolved among other things to ensure fiscal discipline and budget transparency in their various operations; engage in and sustain a more effective advocacy, and work towards adequate capacity building for staff of CSOs. They also emphasized the need for CSOs to identify their thematic areas and synergize with each other for greater impact.
Outcome of the Nigerian Civil Society Organizations Network Forum
A network of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria assembled at the African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage), Enugu, on the 3rd August, 2017, to brainstorm on the challenges of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria. CSOs in were categorized into four different groups, depending on areas of work. The groups are as follows:
The purpose of the meeting is to form a synergy among
1. Economic Empowerment
2. Politics, Good Governance and Development
4. Women, Youths and Children
The participants noted some general objectives of CSOs working, they include:
1. To ensure improved welfare of citizens
2. To advocate and campaign for good governance
3. To ensure an improvement in the
At the end of the brainstorming session, the participants identified some challenges facing the smooth operations of CSOs as:
1. Lack of transparency and accountability in the activities of some CSOs
2. Lack of capacity building for staff of CSOs
3. Ignorance of citizens on the activities/functions of CSOs
4. Inadequate working facilities
5. Lack of mentorship overtime
6. Lack of effective networking among some CSOs
The participants, therefore, recommended as follows:
1. Fiscal discipline and budget transparency by the CSOs
2. Effective advocacy at all times
3. Social inclusion
4. Need for CSOs to be registered with relevant government agencies, such as the CAC
5. Organizational internally generated revenues (OIGR) must be strong
6. Adequate staffing
7. Adequate capacity building for staff of CSOs
8. Need for CSOs to identify their thematic areas, concentrate on them and synergize with each other for a more effective impact.