The challenges that we seek to overcome in actualising our vision
The Crisis of the Nigerian State
The swearing-in of a new federal government in May 2015 following general elections presents an opportunity for Nigeria to reverse the negative trends of the past and begin to realise the potentials of democracy in the country. The challenge for Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country and largest economy, is mass impoverishment with rapidly decaying social infrastructure. 16 years after political power was handed over from military regimes to civilian governments, the culture of accountability and political responsibility is not adequately imbibed by policy makers and implementers.
The pervasive corruption in public and private institutions and civil society may have worsened during the transition period, with the result that enormous human and material resources including significant oil and gas revenues was not put to public good.
Since 1999 when civil rule was restored to Nigeria, conflicts and insecurity have escalated across the country. Successive general elections, which had offered opportunity for Nigerian citizens to intervene in determining the direction of governance in the country, were hijacked and mismanaged by the ruling elite, resulting in even further alienation of the people from government. There has been a growth of violent extremism amidst growing perceptions of ethnic domination.
Political practices neither encouraged popular participation in the decision-making processes in the different levels of government, nor did the government and the different communities share common visions for national or community development.
In recent years, we have seen mass mobilizations and outpouring of popular expression in the form of the January Uprising of 2012 in which Nigerians demanded for accountability in the management of the energy sector of the economy. Young Nigerians have increasingly become active in promoting popular discourses using the social media. The potentials exist for connecting popular expectations into a new vision for national development and progress, and to impact on public policy and individuals’ actions.
A new pan-communal vision for development is needed to bridge the disconnect between different communities, and with the government.
For the current opportunities for change to be maximised, the organisations within civil society must forge a critical and active mass of citizens to demand from and support government efforts, while building a new culture of accountability.
Our view is that we must work together with other social actors to sustain a groundswell of popular demands for change in policies and practices of governments, corporations and citizens.