A group, under the umbrella of Network of Civil Society Organisations/Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria, has met in Enugu to deliberate on governance and developmental issues, with particular focus on the upcoming 2019 elections.
The group prayed for a non-violent, free and fair elections come 2019 across the country. It also advised politicians to ensure they play by the rules of the game, and to be guided by the spirit of fair-play, service delivery, accountability and honesty.
The event titled: CSOs/NGOs Engagement Forum, took place on Wednesday August 15, 2018, with the theme: Collaborating to Make Impact, and was organised and hosted by the African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage), a not -for-profit, non-partisan independent think-tank organisation based in Enugu, fully devoted to economic, political research, capacity building, advocacy and networking.
In his opening remarks at the event, the executive director of AfriHeritage, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, emphasised on the need for collaboration among CSOs/NGOs to drive the change the country truly desires. He indicated the importance of working together or collaboration, to ensure improvement in the electoral process in order to bring about change in the ways things are done.
“Although CSOs/NGOs do not have express mandate to conduct elections, they possess moral authority to work for improvement and change in the election process”.
Along this line, he suggested that awareness is important to change the orientation of the people to understand the importance of participating in election and voting. He stressed further on the need for CSOs/NGOs to work in collaboration to identify the needs of the people and to ensure that the political parties factor solutions to such needs, in their manifestoes and programmes.
On the issue of what specific role the CSOs and NGOs can play to make a meaningful impact in the coming elections, the AfriHeritage director said “the first important step to free and fair elections is registration. Therefore, it is important to get registered to be eligible to vote. So, the CSOs/NGOs should collaboratively be involved in the sensitization of the people on the importance of participating in election to make an impact.”
Thus, he encouraged representatives of the organisations present at the forum to ensure that the message of the discussion does not die within the discussion room but should be carried beyond and put into action that will translate into the improvement and positive change to existing process.
The participants resolved to engage in serious political education/awareness drive to sensitize the masses and other stakeholders on the importance of election and the need to participate fully to make sure that only credible people are elected into public offices. The Forum equally condemned the issue of vote buying; politicization of security agents by politicians and those in power. Other key observations made by the Forum include: – That Tribunals/Courts should adopt/consider reports from election observers (who are mainly CSOs and NGOs) in any given elections, in electoral litigations.
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