Civil Rights Council National Convention held on the 11th of November 2022 anchored by the National Executive Council

The Nigeria Social Action Camp 2022 held in Port Harcourt was another opportunity for the Civil Rights Council Units Nationwide to organise its National Convention and take stock of its activities, challenges, and progress made in the past year and outline programs of activities for the coming year

A cross-section of members of CRC at the convention

On the 4th day of the Nigeria Social Action Camp Program, members of the Civil Rights Council drawn from across the units of the organization met to discuss and chart a way forward for all CRC units in the country. The convention was specifically to review the activities of the Civil Rights Council across the units and in various states chapters of the C.R.C. The Convention was presided over by the National Coordinator of the C.R.C Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna Esq. and the various state and unit coordinators of the organization.

The convention resolved that all C.R.C Units must maintain a register of Membership from the various units, Identification Card, maintain contact and keep a record of all activities including the creation of a new C.R.C Unit with the zonal offices which is at Abuja for C.R.C Units in the Federal Capital Territory and other states in the Northern parts of the country, Warri Office which is for units in Delta State and Edo State, Port Harcourt Zonal Office which is for Rivers State, Bayelsa State, Akwa-Ibom State, Cross River State, Imo State and Enugu State. It is expected that the particulars of all the units including details of memberships program activities should be logged at the zonal offices periodically. 

In line with constitutional provisions the convention took far-reaching decisions and unanimously arrived at the following conclusions:

  1. The ratification of Okpanam Civil Rights Council Units, which were created from Asaba Civil Rights Council.
  2. The dissolution of Delta State State Executives of the Civil Rights Council whose tenure has expired in October 2022.
  3. The setting up of a three-Man Committee to run the affairs of Delta State Civil Rights Council made up of Gabriel Omorere as Chairman, Joy Edibine and Sundrex Ogor as members.
  4. The fixing of a general election for Delta State Civil Rights Council for the 11th of December 2022.
  5. The reconstitution of the leadership (management committee) of Bayelsa, Owerri (Imo State), Akwa-Ibom State and Enugu State Civil Rights Councils Units. 

Finally, the conference adjourned for the Nigeria Social Action Camp, 2022 for another National Meeting of the C.R.C


Jaye Gaskia making his presentations at the Social Action Camp 2022

Nigerian youths must organize and ensure solidarity under strong platforms and national movements to reclaim the civic space and enthrone transformative governance. Comrade Jaye Gaskia disclosed this while making his presentations at the Nigeria Social Action Camp in Port Harcourt as a necessary to challenge and contest for power with the ruling class to be able to get a fair deal in government policies and programmes for a better Nigeria.
In his various presentations cutting across topics such as: What Can Be Done To Reclaim The Civic Space, Transformative Governance In 2023 And Beyond: A Need For A Mass Movement And The Role Of Nigerian Youths In Reclaiming Civic Space And Transformative Governance In Nigeria Comrade Jaye Gaskia took a swipe on the decadent Nigeria ruling class bedridden in political corruption and lack of initiatives.
He held that for there to be any meaningful social movement, there must be Organisation (in noun and verbal forms), Mobilization, Leadership, Initiative, Purpose, Politics and Autonomy, in what he tagged “The seven characteristics of movement”.

He explained that a movement needs an organisation (which gives the movement an identity) and organisation as a process, which is to bring interested people together as a body of like-minds. Mobilisation of active citizens must be done by leadership who provides the initiative drawn from a well-articulated and accepted purpose. The autonomy of the leadership (and by extension, the movement) is to ensure that the movement is not hijacked, coerced, intimidated or bought over by anti-progressive elements who are mostly part of the oppressive few.
Drawing an analogy from the recently organized #EndSars protest, and noted that the movement suffered an early aborted fate because it lacked some of the seven characteristics that would have caused it to endure and achieve the desired long-term goals
He insisted that playing at the gallery will not solve the problem rather a hardworking organization and building a strong movement with strong leadership by the youths and other oppressed segments of the society will bring the desired change and transformative governance in Nigeria.


“Women Liberation is aimed at achieving equality for women in all areas of the society”

Comrade Rita Kigbara said that the advances made by the women’s liberation struggles would not have achieved the progress made without the support of some male champion she termed “he for she”. She made this profound statement while speaking at the Nigeria Social Action Camp on the paper she titled “sexual violence and the struggle for women liberation: a feminine perspective”

Keenly attentive participants

She took on the subject from a historical perspective note as she reflected that women have come together to liberate themselves from the shackles of marginalization, at various times in history, outlining the various epochs of women’s liberation struggle up to the Beijing conference of 1995. According to her, all the women’s struggles over the years both on the political and human rights fronts (law) have re-emphasized the invaluable role of women in human progress but more has established women as disputable agents of social change. In spite of the progress made by women in different spheres of their endeavours, she noted that there are still practices inhibiting social, political and economic empowerment and advancement. Some of these practices she identified as impeding and retrogressive cultural practices, stereotyping and some corporate policies she interpreted as marriage penalties for carrier women. She regretted that many women have been prevented from aspiring to the height they wished to, due to these practices and policies.
For her, sexual violence is a germane aspect of discuss of women’s liberation struggle over the years and it is still an ongoing discussion as many women suffer sexual violence in diverse forms both in public and private life, conducts, she maintained, should be deprecated with severe consequences for the perpetrators. She advocates a legal regime that will extend more protection to women in all societies.


A presentation of Prof Sofiri Peterside at the Nigeria Social Action Camp 2022


True to its national spirit, the Social Action has convened us to discuss a theme of national and most -timely importance, “State Repression and Shrinking Civic Space in Nigeria” a topic choice for which the Programme Department ought to be congratulated. Today, many Nigerians and the international community observe that representative democracy is in crisis, and note a decline of confidence in public institutions. It is within the overall context of this camp meeting I was invited to deliver this keynote address which to my mind, underscores the fact that is a crisis our democracy. If there is, how does it manifest itself in the different geo-political zones of the Country? Furthermore, can we say something about the capacity of Nigeria’s democracy that may be pertinent beyond those differences? These are, of course, vast questions on which I want to offer some very general reflections.

To begin with, let me ask: is there State Repression? If there is, is it shrinking the Civic Space? If it is, how does it manifest itself across the country? Furthermore, it may be, and I will argue this that democracy itself is intrinsically characterized by perpetual tensions that are both worrisome and a testimony to its best qualities and indeed, strongest capacity. All through the conversations at the opening ceremony yesterday, we listened to several speeches that highlighted various aspects of the crises. Deep concerns have been expressed in many of them. Fortunately, deep concern is not despair. In this present-day world, haunted by the ills of war, domestic and international violence, social inequality and environmental damage, what I will say will strike a note of cautious optimism among those justified concerns about the civic space in Nigeria.

The second point you all know well. There have never been in the world as many formally democratic regimes as there are today. Moreover, there have been as many rulers claiming that their regimes are democratic. Being democratic or claiming to be democratic, might be compared to a currency: credibly holding it adds capital to those who claim it as their type of rule. Underlying this fact is that in most parts of the world, the ultimate claim to legitimacy, or at least to the acceptability, of political rule must lie in the type of popular consent expressed in the democratic process.


Conceptual Clarification

It is apposite to emphasize the point that a country can have a democratic regime, or a political democracy. These are two basic components. First of all, elections are reasonably fair so that the opposition has a reasonable chance of winning. The elections should also be decisive in the sense that whoever wins may occupy the offices for which they have competed, and endure in their tenure as it is constitutionally prescribed. Secondly, a democratic regime includes a set of rights or political freedoms such as freedom of expression, of association, of movement, of access to non-monopolized information. The reasonable effectiveness of these rights is a fundamental condition for holding fair and decisive elections before, during and after them. These are the basic defining characteristics of political democracy, or equivalently of polyarchy as stated by Robert A. Dahl, to which O’Donnell (2006) added the requisite of decisiveness. He stated two caveats in this regard. One is that the regime thus defined is absolutely fundamental to democracy.

However, he does not believe that the meaning of democracy ends there. Democracy is not ultimately based on voters, but citizens, and citizenship, in addition to the political dimension brought about the regime, also includes civil, social, and cultural dimensions. A fuller, better democracy is on that enacts and supports a wide gamut of all these rights. It is also one that resolves, by means that are legally and constitutionally prescribed, conflicts and trade-offs that unavoidably arise from these rights.


The Nigerian Situation

Throughout history, social movements- small groups though loosely connected but united by a shared purpose, have created transformational change by the powerless banding together against the powerful. In contemporary world, digital technology has intensified these potent forces making it much easier of groups of like-minded people to connect and coordinate actions against rampaging apparatus of the state. This implies that there is a greater opportunity to create change now than ever before (Satell, 2017). Yet, it appears that Nigeria is not a favourable environment for democracy because the governing elite always preferred the reputation of being democrats to the notorious inconveniencies of practicing democracy. Little wonder, most of the country’s leaders are enjoying the reputation of being democrats without the inconveniences because they have trivialized democracy to the extent that its practice is no longer threatening to positional incumbents. The Nigerian situation, like any other African country, underscores the fact that what is being foisted on Africa is a version of liberal democracy reduced to the crude simplicity of multi-party elections.

The term, “Civic Space” is often used to describe those human rights which facilitate the ability of individuals and groups to participate in the polity and governance of their country. According to the United Nations Human Rights:

Civic space is the environment that enables civil society to play a role in the political, economic and social life of our societies. In particular, civic space allows individuals and groups to contribute to policy-making that affects their lives, including by accessing information, engaging in dialogue, expressing dissent or disagreement, and joining together to express their views.”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the Civic Space as the

“set of legal, policy, institutional, and practical conditions necessary for non-governmental actors to access information, express themselves, associate, organise, and participate in public life”.

It entails the policies, laws, institutions and practices that provide a conducive atmosphere for citizens and civil society organizations to thrive as they promote progressive liberties, freedoms, and spaces for institutional growth. This creates and empowers structures necessary for social, economic and political mechanisms necessary for societal growth.

Similarly, a Transparency & Accountability Initiative Report noted:

“…civic space is defined as the set of conditions that determine the extent to which all members of society, both as individuals and in informal or organized groups, are able to freely, effectively and without discrimination exercise their basic civil rights. Principal among these are rights of information, expression, assembly, association and participation.

From the above, certain constitutionally-protected rights are implicated when the civic space is closed or obstructed, namely: Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association and Freedom of Assembly. These mentioned freedoms, enshrined in Chapter IV of Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) are interconnected and simultaneously facilitate the citizens’ engagement among themselves and with the government and the general public. As such, any interference with any of these freedoms may invariably result in the deprivation of other rights.  Again, by virtue of these constitutional guarantees, every citizen is a recognized participant in the civic space arena.

Freedom of Expression guarantees the right to express views on an issue through any media of choice irrespective of how irking those views are. Press freedoms are concomitant to this right. By guaranteeing the Freedom of Thought, the Nigerian Constitution protects the rights of citizens to hold and express religious or political views, or agitate for the betterment of specific target groups, tribes and ethnic federations without let or hindrance. Closely intertwined with the freedom of thought and expression are the association and assembly freedoms permitting citizens to form and belong to any group for the propagation of their thoughts and ideas, or belong to any political party of choice, hold and disseminate political ideologies. Accordingly, they can carry out protests, hold rallies and form pressure groups. Against this backdrop, the persecution of members and apologists of the Indigenous People of Biafra falls within the purview of civic space infringement within the context of the right to free assembly and free association. In the same way, the selective prosecution of members of an opposition political party is not inconsistent with politically-motivated restrictions designed to stifle dissent and limit democratic participation.


Are Civic Spaces Open or Closing?

According to Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights during the Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders in October, 2019, “Civil society participation is the lifeblood of any healthy democracy and society. When civil society channels flow freely, it means vibrant debate, freedom

For various reasons, governments around the world deploy various tactics to restrict the ability of citizens to engage, critique government failings or hold dissenting views. Some of the reasons advanced for these restrictions range from re-election ambitions to restraining political opposition or covering up the excesses of the governments. Civic spaces are closed when the limitations on citizen’s rights pose severe constraints to their ability to organize freely, including free expression, assembly and association, making civic engagement between themselves and other state and non-state actors difficult. Other notable manifestations of closing civic spaces take the form of repressive laws—such as the various anti-social media bills at the National Assembly; overbroad interpretation of existing laws—like the frequent use of the Cybercrimes Act to punish social media users; the retention of draconian laws—which includes charging journalists or social critics for the crimes of sedition and criminal defamation; and the excessive use of force by security agents to quell protests and  punish citizens beyond the prescriptions of the law.

Before now, particularly under the military rule, journalists and activists were the major targets of government crackdowns. Advancements in digital technology have helped to expose the tactics used to perpetuate these crackdowns. Technology has also widened the umbrella of activism, allowing ordinary citizens to have greater access to online and offline spaces for civic action. The internet and social media easily handed citizens a limitless tool for civic engagement, expanding the civic space beyond the traditional media, the streets and town halls. Likewise, the scope of government restrictions has widened, extending to ordinary citizens whose actions make governments uncomfortable and subject them to greater scrutiny.

The excesses in government’s arbitrariness tilt heavily against women participation, especially in Nigeria. Clampdowns on social media, unbalanced quota systems, societal stereotypes and lack of enabling environments have restricted the participation of women, especially in the area of politics and governance. Women voices are stifled and restrained, and political parties are not ready to actualize their mandates regarding the candidacies of women politicians. Equal gender participation is a facade on paper, just waved by Nigerian politicians and policymakers to restrict dissent and throw crumbs at women affected by the shrinking space they have found themselves in.


Democracy and the Situation of Women

A study by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in 2018 shows that in the years between 1999 to 2015, 6% of councillors (at the local government) were women, 24% of judges in the federal court were women, and an average of 7% of each type of high-level government officials and senior administrators were women. There were no female central bank governors. According to the report, “the role with the highest percentage of women at 28% was the special assistant role”. This shows the depressing extent of women participation in political civic spaces.

Governments are making the civic space a tug of war – one of survival and strategic positioning by civic organizations and participants fighting against a system designed to kill activism and civic engagements. Civic actors are threatened and bullied with harsh policies targeted at dampening “dissent” against authorities. Being a female player in the civic industry does not help matters as cultural, political and social elements exist to hinder the impactful work of participants of the female gender, thereby contributing to gender inequality in the already shrinking civic space.


Challenge of Feminism

Historically, the very design of democracy and representation has continually excluded women. In ancient Greece, cradle of democratic experiment, democracy was vigorously exclusive -: the citizen was male and born Athenian parents. Theorists who examined social contract and social sovereignty of the people at best, ignored women, and at worst, foresaw their confinement to private and family spheres. The greatest revolutions that paved the way for representative democracy-the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution (17775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789) did little to promote the access of women to governance of the Nation. In fact, in France, the abstract individual- the notion underpinning republican universalism – padlocked the citizenship of women until, the beginning of the 22st Century an era when a highly stimulated debate on the subject of parity emerged.

Today, representative democracy, presented an ideal includes women or at least, those who do not think so keep quiet. Unfortunately, practice in contemporary times does no honour to this ideal. The proportion of women representatives in the National assembly is a case in point. Studies have shown that a multitude of factors influence women’s access to legislative arenas. These factors may be grouped into three broad categories: cultural, socio-economic and political. Culture refers to the values, standards, beliefs and attitudes that control a society and its institutions, and that are inspirations for the population’s ways of being, talking and doing.


Socio-Economic Factors: have to do with the conditions that lead women to envision careers in the field of politics. An improvement in women’s socio-economic conditions should favour their increased presence in the National Assembly.


Political factors: This influence the demand for candidates and, more specifically, it determines which citizens from the “eligible pool” are deemed qualified for a political position and worthy to be put forth as candidates. The factors fall into two categories or dimensions: The political rights of women and the profile of the political regime. The first dimension refers to the political citizenship of women. The second dimension: The profile of the political regime has enjoyed a greater deal of attention (these are examples of the State Structure (Unitary or Federal) the structure of the Legislature (Unitary or Federal) the number of seats, the party system etc.



It is necessary for state actors to recognize the importance of women’s participation in Nigeria, especially in an environment as crucial as the civic political space.

The equitable participation of women in public life is essential to building and sustaining strong, vibrant democracy:

“the full and equitable participation of women in public life is essential to building and sustaining strong, vibrant democracies. When women are not participating in politics, it’s less likely that policies will benefit them. Women need to participate to bring attention to issues that uniquely affect them, and to change attitudes towards gender.” (Damilola Agbalajobi, 2022).








Every year Nigerians living across riverine communities become victims of a ravaging flood situation which has, in the last 10 years, consistently become a perennial menace, leading to over 600 deaths, destruction of lives and properties and disruption of social and economic activities in affected areas.

In 2012, Nigeria recorded the highest flooding experience across states of the country with a loss of revenue and diminishing economic downturn in the affected states with its attendant loss of livelihoods, lives and displacement of citizens in affected states. 10 years later, the country is again faced with yet another challenge of flooding which is adjudged by the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to be deadlier than that of 2012, with close to 3 million persons displaced.

This year, the flood affected Kogi State, cutting off the road leading into Abuja the Federal Capital Territory from the confluence states, with commuters stranded, leaving a large number of truckloads of perishable goods on both ends of the road. Among other states, Nasarawa and Benue States in the North Central part of Nigeria are not left behind. Lagos State in the South-West, Imo and Anambra States in the South-East and Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States in the South-South region respectively have been badly affected, with the East-West Road along Patani, Mbiama and Ahoada axis of the East-west road divided.

This heavy flood has destroyed and submerged houses sacked several communities and made life difficult and unbearable for large numbers of families who now find themselves at different designated IDP camps. Stranded commuters have been left with the option of taking the high risk of crossing with canoes or long and very expensive alternative routes, while farmers conveying their goods had to auction them at a loss.


Figure 1Travelers trying to get themselves across the other parts of the road by canoe as the flood takes over

The flooding situation has caused a lot of uneasiness for the average Nigerian as transportation cost has suddenly increased by 200%.

When Social Actions team visited the affected areas on the 17th of October, 2022 beginning from Ahoada axis of the East-west road, which has been cut off completely, commuters were being ferried by canoe and speedboats with so much cost to be crossed over to the other part of the road. They paid as much as N1,200 naira on speedboats and N600 on wooden canoes. Those who didn’t have as much to pay had to cross the water on foot, which, at the time of the visit, was deep into the chest region. Goods were seen scattered all over the place with no hope in sight. We also received reports of some persons who could not make it through the flooded road as they were swept away by the current of the flood. This is sad and pathetic.

So far, it has been confirmed that the Rivers State Government has set up a flood management committee and to that effect released the sum of 1 billion naira for palliatives and to cushion the effects of the flooding situation for affected families. They have also identified different primary and secondary schools designated as temporary Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the affected LGAs.

As at the time of the visit, the Team could not proceed beyond the Ahoada axis as the flow was still very high with a lot of persons scampering for safety.

The Affected LGAs in River State include Ahoada West, Ahoada East, Abua Odual and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni areas respectively. For now, we are yet to ascertain the number of deaths and the total number of persons and families affected. We hope to get that as the flood recedes.


The major culprit of flooding is always going to be the climate change associated with global warming which has altered the weather patterns thereby causing a rise in the sea level as the snows melt further into the seas and rivers. The rainfall also have shown an unusual pattern and some location not known to have heavy rainfall have experienced an increase in volume recently

The flood which has affected an estimated 27 out of the 36 states in Nigeria[2] is also a result of water released from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun, overflowing the banks of the rivers along the Nige Basin. This situation is further exacerbated by the inability of the Federal Government to complete the Dani Hausa Dam which would have been used as a buffer to regulate the water level on the Nigerian side of the river. The River Benue and Niger and other tributaries along their coasts like Engenni and Orashi Rivers have been heavily silted over the years, making the waterways shallow and unable to contain much water volumes flowing into them.



The flooding situation could be tackled using short-, medium- and long-term measures. Beyond providing prompt emergency relief materials for the victims and displaced persons of the flood, there is a more crucial need to put in place medium to long-term measures to mitigate the floods and their effect to prevent the colossal losses in its wake.

Some of the recommendations include

  1. Constants desilting of drainages.
  2. Provisions of medical support for affected families and persons within the affected LGAs
  3. Supply of food items to help them stand on their feet again
  4. Support of startups fund for small businesses for affected families
  5. Construction of embankments within the communities that are close to the river Banks
  6. Dredging of the Orashi River by the Rivers State Government with help from the Federal Governments
  7. Dredging of the River Niger by the Federal Government of Nigeria
  8. Completion of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa State by the Federal Government
  9. Provide adequate warnings and information for those occupying natural waterways to evacuate the areas



This picture shows the flow and the power of the current along the road


Perishable goods like plantain getting spoil as a result of long stay on one spots with no hope of getting it across to the market.

Petty traders who earn a living selling eatables to commuters along the Eastwest road are suffering from the effect of the flood are not left out.


Market men and women conveying perishable goods like plantain stranded at the scene of flood after many days





Stranded goats’ merchants with their goats at the scene


Cluster members in a photograph after the Cluster meeting in Ikere, Ondo State

Social Development Integrated Centre, in collaboration with (LAPDO), organized a one-day budget advocacy cluster meeting for selected cluster members in Ikere LGA, Ondo State, on 10th September 2022.
The meeting was part of the cluster programmes aimed at strengthening advocacy for transparent and inclusive budget processes across LGA in Nigeria. It brought together civil society organisations, representatives of religious and traditional institutions, women and youth groups, the media and other stakeholders to discuss their roles in the budget process. It also highlighted the functions of the Local government and their responsibility in identifying & prioritizing the needs of citizens at the grassroots by implementing inclusive governance through needs assessment and robust consultations with the people.

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Restructure the NDDC and Make Public the Forensic Audit; Stakeholders Urge Presidency

Stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region have called on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to make public the Forensic Audit report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to reposition the commission for effective service delivery. This call was made on Thursday, 8th September 2022 at a Virtual Public Dialogue on, “Effective Service Delivery in the Niger Delta: A need to Reposition the NDDC for Accountability” organized by Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) with support from the MacArthur’s Foundation.

In an opening remark on behalf of the Executive Director, Mr. Botti Isaac, Programmes Coordinator of Social Action said that the event was coming at a time when the underdeveloped Niger Delta region is littered with abandoned projects due to the gross mismanagement and misappropriation of funds allocated to the NDDC.

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Figure 3 Sanitation Marshals at the public hearing in Port Harcourt

The Civil Rights Council has admonished the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council on the consideration of the constitution and the respect for the rights and interests of the citizens in the formulation of a by-law in the local government. This submission was made at the public hearing on a bylaw to prohibit the indiscriminate disposal of waste and other environmental offences in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State organised by the Council.

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A portion of ravaged farmlands and frustrated villagers scooping from the spilled oil around the farm

In the early hours of Tuesday 2nd August 2022, the residents of Bodo city in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers state were thrown into pandemonium owing to the occurrence of fresh oil spills in the area from one of the shell pipelines that conveys crude oil to Bonny through the community.

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Women Group in Aninri LGA supports local government fiscal autonomy

The Budget Cluster Groups in Aninri LGA of Enugu State Advocacy cluster group unanimously came together to lend their voices to advance better ways of demanding Local Government Autonomy especially in the Enugu State.

The group asserted that they have been in the forefront for the demand for an accountable local government for a meaningful grassroot development and for this to be possible, the government closest to the people must have truly fiscal autonomy.

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