Rethinking Civic Space Engagement

During the Nigeria cohort of the civic space protection training organized by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and partners, stakeholders were unanimous in stating that a free and participatory civic space remain the cornerstone of functioning democracy. Participants were however concerned about the shrinking civic space as a result of actions of authorities, policies and negligence and flawed approaches adopted by civil society players themselves over the years.

In the spirit of co-creation and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments, civic society players must therefore rethink their approaches by balancing collaboration with confrontation. The hackneyed approach of confronting every government decision and policy has not been so successful in efforts to open up the civic space, hence, the need to reconsider engagement approach that would bring about the best result.

This has been our approach at the Center, where we have effectively combined advocacy with collaboration to promote transparency, participation, inclusion and accountability in the system.

While we must not relent in holding government accountable and demanding citizens’ rights to speech, association, assembly and access to information, citizens must equally be aware of their responsibilities and obligations to the state as provided by law.

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