Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations under the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health in Nigeria (PACFaH) organized a One-day Media Strategy Development Workshop for CSOs (PACFaH) and Media. The workshop was facilitated by Mallam Umar Tundunwada, the General Manager, Freedom Radio Group; while Dr. Muhammad Saleh, Director of PACFaH presented an overview of PACFaH Project. Participants of the workshop were drawn from the seven PACFaH partners and representative of the following media groups: Thisday, Guardian, Peoples Daily, National Mirror, Daily Trust, Today FM Port Harcourt, Health Reporters. After brainstorming exhaustively on various thematic issues, the participants observed and recommended as follow:

1. As media remains a key component in galvanizing efforts towards achieving effective child and family health in Nigeria, it has become imperative for PACFaH to partner with the media in evidence-based advocacy to hold governments accountable on their commitments on increasing budgetary allocation and expenditure, enacting policies and guidelines in support of Child and Family Health in Nigeria.

2. Although media has the traditional role to inform, educate, entertain and enlighten, it has not met its responsibility towards interrogating issues of national importance such as budget tracking and human rights, proactive collaboration with CSOs, and investigative journalism to effectively interrogate issues affecting child and family health in Nigeria.

3. Ineffective communication strategies used by CSOs such as unfamiliar acronyms, lack of focus on human angle, persistent use of professional and technical jargons, amongst others hinder effective media participation.

4. The commercialization of the media has adversely affected its performance such that issues of public interest are not getting the required priority attention.

5. Lack of media inclusion in CSOs programmes plan to provide for resources to engage the media in advancing issues on child and family health.

The participants therefore recommend the following:

1. Building effective and reliable working relationship with the media, and promoting child and family health coalition of journalists.

2. Enhanced media capacity to effectively conduct investigative journalism and galvanize advocacy in child and family health in Nigeria.

3. Ensuring issue-focused advocacy, impact emphasis, simplicity in communication, appropriate language and terms, and avoid needless professional and technical Jargons in crafting message for the media.

4. Planning programmes and activities in accordance with the rules of engagement, and mapping of related media to help to enhance and sustain CSOs’ advocacy on child and family health.

5. Jointly develop a costed media strategy to promote child and family health.

6. Promote investigative journalism on critical child and family health issues such as budget tracking.

The participants expressed their appreciation to CISLAC for convening the workshop and PACFaH for providing the support to this all important program channeled towards enhancing CSOs-media understanding on Child and Family Health as well as increased knowledge amongst stakeholders. Participants noted that the engagement was revealing and indeed an opportunity to begin to create bigger conversation amongst stakeholders to provide for effective Child and Family Health in Nigeria.

1. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director of CISLAC
2. Abdul Ibrahim
Program Officer, Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN)
3. Edwin Akpotor
Program Officer, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)




In the last 14 months, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from MacArthur Foundation has been implementing series of activities in Kano State primarily to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders—Legislature, Executives, Civil Society, and the Media in the State and interrogate issues around maternal and child health. Among such activities were CSOs-Legislative-Executive Roundtable on Maternal Health, Media Training for Legislative Reporters on Maternal Health and Town-Hall Meeting on Strengthening Existing MDGs Committee in the Kano State House of Assembly, Town-Hall Meeting on Understanding Legislative Oversight Function on Maternal Health organized between 19th-20th December, 2013 and 12th-13th June, 2014, respectively.

As part of the efforts to ensure relevant stakeholders are held accountable to their roles and responsibilities and take well-informed decisions in planning, policy formulation and domestication of National Health Act to provide for effective maternal and child health services in the State (as observed and recommended throughout the aforementioned engagements), CISLAC found it essential to further engage the media so as to sustain its existing tempo of advocacy. This primarily informed the decision by CISLAC to pay an advocacy visit to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Freedom Radio and Radio Deutsche Welle in Kano State on 11th February, 2015. During the visits, CISLAC made the following calls:

Call for Action to Kano State House of Assembly
• Increased resources and budgetary allocation to health sector; and full-fledged political commitment towards effective implementation of various charters on health care services in the State.
• Prompt domestication and implementation of the National Health Act to provide for effective maternal and child healthcare services in the State.
• Effective citizens’ participatory and inclusiveness in legal framework to drive maternal accountability in the State.
• Training and retraining programmes for the State’s legislators on their roles and responsibilities towards maternal accountability.
• Joint advocacy, monitoring, public hearings and sponsorship among various committees of Kano State House of Assembly to fast-track the domestication of National Health Act as well as joint executive-legislative working sessions to ensure effective implementation of relevant provisions in the Act to provide for workable maternal healthcare services.
• Development of common strategies and plan of action on maternal accountability across relevant committees in the Kano State House of Assembly.

Call for Action to Kano State’s Executives
• Judicious utilization of existing resources allocated to the health sector.
• Adequate healthcare facilities to restore human dignity, rights and provide accountability for maternal health; and massive recruitment and deployment of additional skilled health manpower to the grassroots.
• Workable collaboration and sustainable partnership among Governments, CSOs, development partners and various stakeholders on public education and enlightenment on maternal health services with adequate capacity building for healthcare providers in the State.
• Strengthening existing Primary Health Centres and promote sustainable Safe Motherhood Programmes in the State.
• Sustained Facility Health Committees to oversee the operation of local health facilities; and focus attention and emphasis by various stakeholders on preventive and curative health systems.
• Massive public enlightenment and knowledge sharing on Danger Signs, Safe Delivery Plan, Emergency Transport Scheme, Savings and blood donation for pregnant mothers.
• Adequate structures and processes to promote functionality of Safe Motherhood Initiatives.
• Proper individual orientation towards health services and strict compliance by health workers to medical code of ethics.
• Well-informed individual, proper orientation and commitment towards maternal health services in the State.
• Adequate training and retraining programmes for various Committees supervising maternal health services in the State.

Call for Action to Kano State’s Civil Society
• Accountable, self-sustained, articulated, skillful and objective focused CSOs using Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to promote maternal accountability in the State.
• Well-informed citizens, increased girl child school enrolment and proper orientation to improve women attendance, participation and access to maternal health services in the State.
• Prompt engagement and involvement of various traditional rulers, community and religious leaders to accelerate community participation towards maternal health services in the State.
• Common data based advocacy on health by CSOs with particular reference to the State Ministry of Health.
• Constructive advocacy by civil society to hold policy makers accountable to their roles and responsibilities on maternal health.

Call for Action to Kano State Media
• Increased focus on social media to promote maternal mortality related reportage; and integration of the various media into a common platform.
• Effective use of social media as a medium of legislative-executive advocacy, awareness, public enlightenment and to drive citizenry participation on maternal health reportage in the State.
• Evidence-based, research-oriented, committed and investigative journalism to promote maternal health related matters in the State.
• Well-informed media on the use of newly emerged Information Communication and Technology (ICT) reporting tools to enhance reportage on maternal accountability, especially in the grassroots.
• Adequate media reportage, intervention and awareness on socio-cultural related matters on maternal health in the State.
• Adequate media reportage on non-existence of maternal mortality database in the State; and radical demand by the media from the State House of Assembly, necessary information on maternal related challenges using Freedom of Information Act (FOI).
• Constructive collaboration and synergy among CSOs and the media on maternal accountability; and well paid legislative journalism in the State.
• Drastic media reportage on budgetary allocation and resource utilization on health services; and aggressive public sensitization and awareness by the media on maternal accountability in the State.
• Renowned syndicate media reportage and continuous involvement of the various key stakeholders on maternal accountability in the State.

Action Points by Freedom Radio and Radio Deutsche Welle

After presentation of the Call for Action by CISLAC, the CEOs of Freedom Radio and Radio Deutsche Welle:
• Committed to promptly utilize the stations’ existing programmes on health to support and broadcast various issues affecting maternal accountability raised by CISLAC.
• Endorsed strengthening collaboration with CISLAC in its ongoing advocacy towards achieving maternal accountability in the State.
• Supported and validated the facts presented by CISLAC based on similar findings by the stations across the State, and pledged commitment to uphold various recommendations submitted.
• Reiterated that the Freedom Radio had championed many changes through awareness and sensitization on health, and such spirited effort would be deployed to promote maternal accountability in the State.
• Affirmed that stations shall deploy their vast experience and human resource in supporting subsequent related activities by CISLAC in the State.




Since January 2014, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from MacArthur Foundation has been implementing series of activities in Katsina State primarily to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders—Legislature, Executives, Civil Society, and the Media in the State and interrogate issues around maternal and child health. Among such activities were CSOs-Legislative-Executive Roundtable on Maternal Health, Media Training for Legislative Reporters on Maternal Health and Town-Hall Meeting on Strengthening Existing MDGs Committee in the Katsina State Assembly, Town-Hall Meeting on Understanding Legislative Oversight Function on Maternal Health organized between 22nd-23rd January, 2014 and 7th-8th May, 2014.

As part of the efforts to ensure relevant stakeholders are held accountable to their roles and responsibilities and take well-informed decisions in planning, policy formulation and domestication of National Health Act to provide for effective maternal and child health services in the State (as observed and recommended throughout the aforementioned engagements), CISLAC found it essential to further engage the media so as to sustain its existing tempo of advocacy. This primarily informed the decision by CISLAC to pay an advocacy visit to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Katsina State Radio Service and Voice of America Radio on 6th February, 2015. During the visits, CISLAC made the following calls:

Call for Action to Katsina State’s Legislature
• Effective political commitment and intensified legislative oversight towards health sector in the State.
• Increased in budgetary allocation, supervision and transparency toward the health sector; and intensified focus on preventive rather than curative measures on maternal mortality.
• Effective domestication and implementation of National Health Act to provide for realistic and sustainable maternal and child health services in the State.
• Increased legislative oversight and supervision to ensure proper professional codes of conduct by medical personnel in the State; and constructive collaboration among CSOs, executives and legislators on effective maternal accountability.

Call for Action to Katsina State’s Executives
• Massive recruitment of medically trained personnel to strengthen the existing medical attendance; and provision of training and re-training programmes on maternal health for medical personnel in the State.
• Provision of sufficient infrastructural facilities, especially at the grassroots to combat maternal and infant mortality across the State.
• Provision of adequate security measures to tackle theft and sabotage on the State’s infrastructural facilities, especially in the grassroots.
• Radical sensitization campaign, advocacy and public awareness programmes to drive positive individual orientation towards maternal health services across the State.
• Strengthen Primary Healthcare System, judicious utilization of existing resources and workable implementation of health related policies across the State.
• Effective and judicious utilization of the existing local resources to cater for sufficient maternal healthcare service in the State.

Call for Action to Katsina State’s Civil Society
• Provision of adequate and accurate data on budgetary allocation to health sector and maternal mortality across the state to assist government and development partners interventions toward maternal health services.
• Continuous demand for gender equality in policy and decision making; and enhanced public involvement and participation in budgetary process.

Call for Action to Katsina State Media
• Objective focused and de-normalised media reportage to influence advocacy and participation on maternal health across the grassroots.
• Well-informed and evidence-based media to generate factual data and reportage on maternal health in the State.
• Effective use of socio-media as a tool to enhance media reportage, audience interactivity and accessibility, and feedback on maternal health.
• Investigative journalism, qualitative, informative and educative, reportage to drive individual attention towards local media reportage.
• Strengthened media reportage on maternal health using new reliable and developmental platforms.
• Persistent and expanded media coverage and reportage on maternal health; and increased in political oversights on proper codes of conduct by medical personnel in the State.
• Massive and sustainable public awareness and sensitization to drive individual positive orientation maternal health across the grassroots with significant consideration for religion and traditional leaders.
• Increased in media curiosity towards reportage and supervision on budgetary allocation and implementation in the health sector.
• Effective utilisation of the existing data sources to validate media reportage on maternal health; and increase surveillance by reporters on the existing health facilities in the State.

Action Points by Katsina State Radio Service and Voice of America Radio
After presentation of the Call for Action by CISLAC, the CEOs of Katsina State Radio Service and Voice of America Radio:
• Found it very essential to prioritize issues around maternal and child health using the stations’ existing programs on health.
• Committed to strengthen collaboration with CISLAC and other relevant stakeholders towards galvanizing public sensitization and advocacy on issues affecting maternal and child health in the State.
• Affirmed continuous support for CISLAC’s ongoing advocacy towards achieving maternal accountability in the State.
• Supported the motion by Voice of America Radio Service to immediately interrogate and broadcast issues around maternal health, especial across the grassroots.
• Demanded that CISLAC utilize the existing health platforms by the stations to sustain its ongoing advocacy on maternal accountability in the State.

Transparency International calls on Nigeria to ensure delayed elections take place

Transparency International is concerned that the delay in elections in Nigeria threatens the people’s right to vote and undermines democracy in the country and calls on the government to ensure not only safety for voters at the polls but that they go ahead without more delays.

The government called on the Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the elections, claiming that the army was not in a position to guarantee security in the face of insurgents in the north east. INEC has set a new date of 28 March.

“Candidates for all parties have been successfully campaigning in some of the regions where insurgents are known to operate. Clearly the safety of Nigerians comes first and foremost but the government should also ensure that elections are held on time, are transparent and are free from fraud,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.

Under the Nigerian constitution, the current term of government expires on 29 May and elections must happen at least one month prior to this date. The government must commit to this timetable.

It is unclear whether a six weeks’ delay will help the Nigerian army combat the threat from extremist groups such as Boko Haram, which it has been trying to stop for several years. It is imperative that any delay in the election is clearly justified to avert suspicion that the government is simply seeking to hold on to power.

“The government must also ensure that there is no political intimidation and no arrests during the run up to the polls that would trigger violence. Most of eligible voters now have their new election cards, which will make attempts to rig the voting much harder than in the past,” said Ugaz.


Civil Society organizations working on good governance, transparency and accountability in the extractive sector and tax justice demand that the federal government should, without further delay, release to the public, the full report of the forensic audit of the accounts and transactions of the NNPC.

We recall that in 2014, that the then CBN Governor alerted the nation that about $20 Billion was unremitted to the Federation account by the NNPC. After several back and forth and tinkering with the figures which kept fluctuating, it became undeniable that indeed billions of dollars were unaccounted for.

We note that the notoriety of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and its attitude toward the management of our commonwealth, as represented by oil and gas resources, has remained a recurring issue highlighted by the several Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI audit reports, which recommendations had gone unheeded, through to the reports of several investigative panels set up by both the executive and legislative arm which recommendation were never implemented

Civil society organizations working on good governance believes that the Federal Government engaged PriceWaterHouseCoopers last year to carry out the forensic audit of the NNPC in a bid to unravel the mysteries behind the conflicting figures and respect the rights of Nigerians to know the truth.

We are therefore surprised that after waiting for about a whole year and the report is finally released, the Nigerians are being denied the right to access to the full version of the report. While we consider the President’s request that the Auditor-General of the Federation should study the report and make the key highlights public within the week of its submission a good beginning, it is insufficient and falls short of Nigerians’ expectation full disclosure.

The fee of this audit was paid with tax payers’ money and therefore every Nigerian citizen has a right to have full access to its content. The highlights presently available to the public have recommended that the NNPC and NPDC should refund to the Federation Account, a minimum of $1.48 Billon (about N274.54bn). This comprises of monies from the mismanagement of several transactions, including cost managements, Signature bonuses, Petroleum Profit Tax and royalty payments. We call on the president to develop the political will to implement this recommendation.

We call on the Management of the he Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, to develop a refund plan for this amount and make it public for the purpose purposes citizens’ monitoring. We also believe that the indictment of institutions indicate culpability for individuals under whose watch such colossal mismanagement occurred. We demand that such be subjected to the most severe disciplinary measures available the public service rules and regulations.

We call on the National Assembly to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill before the expiration of the tenure of the present Assembly as this will contribute immensely to the prevention of these types of leakages that undermine our ability to generate sufficient revenues to finance development and provide essential services to Nigerian citizens.

We call on all citizens, civil society organizations and the media to ensure that the report of this audit does not go the way of previous ones in line with the impunity and waste of public resources that has characterized this administration.


Action for Community Development

Centre for Democracy and Development,( CDD)

Centre for Information Technology and development, (CITAD)

Centre for Advance Social Sciences (CASS)

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre,( CISLAC)

Environmental Rights Agenda/Friends of the Earth(ERA)

National Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Nigeria


West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)

Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC)

Let the Election Hold: Statement by Delegates to the 2014 National Conference; 04/02/2015

- National Conference Delegates and Citizens insist

When the National Conference was convoked in March 2014, some of us that chose to participate in the process did so with the conviction that a Nigeria that we can be proud citizens of is possible. We saw the National Conference as a space for positive contestations and negotiations on what should be the necessary policy, legislative and constitutional directions that would curtail wastages, eliminate corruption and unjust distributive politics that our nation has come to be known for.
We were very clear the conference was not a gift from a generous ruler, but a concession wrested from the jaws of a ruling elite undergoing a crisis that was almost consuming it.

Civil society groups involved in the process did their utmost to mirror and push the desires of Nigerians for an arrangement that promotes full fiscal federalism and where justice and fairness are enthroned. We pushed for the justiciability of human, socio-economic and other rights of citizens and even went as far as pushing for the recognition of the rights of nature to regenerate itself.

At the conclusion of the National Conference, except for a lack of unanimity on aspects of the devolution of power, there were signs that if what were agreed on were implemented the nation would be much better off than current arrangements allow.

Even before the National Conference was set in motion some Nigerians raised doubts about the true intent of the exercise. They argued that what was needed was a Sovereign National Conference whose output would be implemented without being subjected to political manipulation. Some went as far as to say that the timing of the Conference and the selection of delegates were choreographed for political ends, namely to scuttle the 2015 elections.

The President assured all that the true intent was for Nigerians to sit together, discourse the affairs of the nation and chart a way forward for the nation. We note that at the end of the day, apart from some hiccups and heated contestations, the Conference ended with an output that has generally been accepted as a good platform for progress for Nigeria.

We are however surprised that with less than two weeks to the 14 February 2015 date of the Presidential elections, some Nigerians that were delegates to the National Conference held a symposium in Abuja under the banner of the National Conference demanding that the election should be postponed.

We, the undersigned, wish to state unequivocally that:

1. We are not in support of any move to postpone, shift or abandon the election.
2. We believe that four years are long enough to prepare for and conduct an election.
3. We also believe that it will severely insult the sensibility of citizens and also the candidates who have invested so much energy campaigning and preparing for the elections.
4. No one can call for the postponement of the election in our name without our consent.
5. We insist that as things stand now, with the state of preparedness of all stakeholders that the February 2015 general elections can, and must go on according to the already announced schedule.
6. We are convinced that any call or action taken now to the end of postponing, shifting or abandoning the scheduled elections for any form of transitional or interim arrangement will only serve to further inflame the current situation and precipitate a crisis that will almost certainly lead to the termination of the current democratic experience in particular, and the democratisation process in general.

We call on Federal and States Executives to implement the policy recommendations detailed in the National Conference reports without further delay. We also call on the National Assembly to take on board the constitutional amendments agreed to at the Conference.

We are convinced that our nation is at a critical historical junction, and that having a critical role to play in the unfolding events and processes, it is our historical duty to make this stand and to denounce the position of those who have chosen to play games with the fate of our country, and who have chosen to so do in our name without consulting us.

To this end we believe we are speaking on behalf of the Joint Labour-Civil Society Delegation to the 2014 National Conference.

The future of Nigeria and Nigerians must not be toyed with.

God bless Nigeria


Femi Falana
Nnimmo Bassey
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Jaye Gaskia
Ezenwa Nwagwu
Kyauta Giwa
Abiola Akiode-Afolabi
Steve Aluko Daniel
Titus Mann
Y. Z Yau

CISLAC’s Rebroadcasting Programme on 98.3 Hot FM

Good morning All,

If you reside in Abuja, Kaduna, Plateau, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Bauchi or Kogi state, you could listen to CISLAC on 98.3 Hot FM at 3:40pm today (Saturday) for 30 minutes rebroadcasting programme where Mr. Dauda Garba, Nigeria Programme Coordinator of Natural Resource Governance Institute will be discussing key priority reforms that should form government’s agenda after the upcoming general elections.

CISLAC’s Tuesday Live Programme on Hot 98.3 FM

If you reside in Abuja, Kaduna, Plateau, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Bauchi or Kogi state, you could listen to CISLAC and make contribution on 98.3 Hot FM at 1:30pm today (Tuesday) for 30 minutes live programme where Mr. Dauda Garba, Nigeria Programme Coordinator of Natural Resource Governance Institute will be discussing key priority reforms that should form government’s agenda after the upcoming general elections.



The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) is inviting qualified individuals to apply for a programme officer position.

Position: Programme Officer (Bilingual- English and French)
Contract type: Fixed Contract
Report to: Directly to the General Secretary
Duration: One Year but renewable on availability of funds
Location: Abuja (Interested candidate must be based in Abuja)
Issue date: 19th January 2015
Deadline date: 6th February 2015

1. Introduction
WACSOF is the official interface between ECOWAS and CSOs across West Africa. One of WACSOF’s role is to provide a civil society component to the efforts and activities of ECOWAS in fostering peace, human security, development and democratic transitions in the region. In this regard, WACSOF serves as an institutionalised platform for civil society to dialogue, identify their comparative advantage and disadvantage, build dense associational networks, develop institutional effectiveness and democratic cultures, increase civil society’s visibility and relevance in member states and the ECOWAS space.

2. Purpose of the Position
To identify, conceptualise and develop winning proposals on project related issues;
To develop partnerships and identify subcontractors for proposal responses;
Oversee and initiate programs in West Africa;
Obtain the cooperation or participation of a wide variety of governmental and private organizations throughout West Africa;
Results and detail-orientation and the ability to work with a sense of urgency in a Multi-cultural and diverse environment.
To provide technical support in developing WACSOF advocacy work;
To produce reports on programme activities for donors and external partners;
To monitor and support the activities of national chapters, providing strategic advice and guidance in their development;
To conduct outreach and network with other CSOs working on areas of interest, and establish collaborative activities and strategic alliances;
To plan, monitor and evaluate specific regional conflict prevention activities of WACSOF;
Maintain open channels of communication during each program with partners, informing them of all significant developments; and
Work effectively under the pressure of time constraints and the high visibility of WACSOF’s programmes.

3. Key Working Relationships:
Internal: Management Team
External: ECOWAS Commission and other statutory bodies of the community, Nigerian Government, Development partners and civil society organizations.

4. Qualifications, Experience Requirements and Competencies
o Graduate/post graduate degree in gender, development studies and/or social sciences related field are assets;

o At least 7 years of national and international experience in programmatic area of either Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance, Gender and other related developmental field and familiarity with relevant UN, AU and ECOWAS treaties and Conventions;

o Previous experience as project manager and ability to implement programmes within established deadlines and manage the work of other consultants/contractors (compulsory and to be verified);

o Experience in research and the production of quality reports for public distribution;

o Proven ability to work as a facilitator of groups with high‐level participants;

o Fluency in spoken and written French and English;

o Ability to work in an independent manner and organize the workflow efficiently within a limited time period;

o Familiar with good governance issues in West Africa, and the role of ECOWAS, AU and UN

o An understanding of WACSOF’s mandate and work in the West African region is an asset.

o Must possess leadership skills and must be a proactive doer.

5. Remuneration/ Fee
Payment is highly competitive and would be transferred monthly by means of transfer.

6. How to apply
Please send the following documents electronically to the email inbox of

Application cover page
CV indicating relevant experience and academic background and a list of similar consultancies undertaken outlining brief description of consultancies, deliverables, and employer name, etc. Only successful applicants would be communicated with. This means if you did not hear from us, it means you were not picked.


​ BY ABDULRAHMAN B. DAMBAZAU CFR PhD Lieutenant General (Rtd)

The theme “2015 Elections: How to make Nigeria the Winner” appears simple, but I found it very complex and thought-provoking. Certain assumptions could be made with regard to our theme today: first, that although most of the elections conducted in Nigeria in the past had presented some serious challenges, the 2015 elections are likely to present much more serious challenges that could jeopardize national security interests unless plans are made to ensure hitch-free elections; second, that going by what has been speculated within and outside Nigeria, there is the possibility that the country will disintegrate, and the 2015 elections would probably be the platform for it unless it is handled with care; third, that there is hope the 2015 elections would provide the opportunity to strengthen Nigeria’s unity and uphold her integrity; and fourth, that the 2015 elections would provide opportunities to elect good leaders that would clear the path for peaceful co-existence, security, and national development. Since this is a dialogue, I will be raising a lot of questions in an attempt to provoke discussions on how to make Nigeria the winner after the 2015 elections, which are just around the corner.

Winning itself in the context of the 2015 elections has its own implications: what stage of winning are we referring to, such as prioritizing into short, medium and long terms; or are we looking at winning in terms of successful conduct of the elections in 2015 in which they not only would be free, fair, all-inclusive, and credible, but also free from the type of post-elections violence we witnessed in 2011; or that the 2015 elections would lead to the long awaited consolidation of democracy in which good governance would be evident through accountability and transparency, and the respect for the rule of law and human rights; or ensuring that the aftermath of the 2015 elections does not lead to the disintegration of Nigeria as earlier predicted by some US security analysts? Would the 2015 elections bring about a radical change leading us to economic growth and political stability? Would they improve Nigeria’s corruption image in which the Transparency Corruption Index (TCI) depicts Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations on earth? Would they improve Nigeria’s poor governance image as depicted by the 2013 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)? IIAG defines governance as “the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.” The framework comprises four categories: safety and rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human management. Nigeria’s 2013 ranking was 41st among the 52 African countries assessed. Or would the 2015 elections provide the opportunity to improve Nigeria’s status in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) from being among the low developed to highly developed countries in the world? The 2014 Human Development Report (HDR), the latest in the series since 1960, ranks Nigeria 152nd out of the 185 countries assessed. In the context of human security, what would be Nigeria’s post-2015 development agenda? To what extent would the outcome of 2015 elections significantly reduce the risks of terrorism to which Nigeria presently occupies the 4th most risk position (even ahead of Somalia) in the world according to the 2014 Global Terrorism Index; or to turn things around in the world of cyber crime in which a computer crime and security survey ranked Nigeria as the most internet fraud country in Africa and the 3rd in the world. In other words, what is our target of Nigeria being the winner in post-2015 elections? And at what point after the 2015 elections should we feel comfortable that Nigeria is the winner, assuming we are able to identify the winning parameters and thus map out her winning strategy?

There is no doubt that as we move towards the 2015 elections the political environment in Nigeria has been anything but stable, accompanied by high tension signaling warnings of impending political instability and violence, added to the criminal violence resulting from such crimes as kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual murders, and rape occurring all over. Already, over the past five years the nation has been struggling with the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast that is threatening our peace and stability, and to a very large extent, Nigeria’s sovereign and territorial integrity, bearing in mind that some parts of her territory are already under the control of the insurgents (according to recent reports, 20 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno State are under the insurgents, with the flag hoisted).

There is also the issue of recognition and ownership of Nigeria, and one may not be far from reality to assume that Nigeria is still struggling to be recognized as a nation by those who reside in her territory. To be the winner at anytime, Nigeria requires collective ownership to the extent that the approximately 170 million “citizens” see themselves first as Nigerians rather than clinging to their various ethnic and/or religious identities. We identify ourselves on the basis of our religion and ethnicity, and the only time we are Nigerians is when we identify ourselves at international borders holding the travelling passport. No wonder we find it difficult to conduct successful census that would enable us plan for development as a nation, mainly because we argue over which religious group, section or tribe is more in number, without focusing on the quality of the population.

Today we talk of ethnic nationalities and the urge for self-determination for each ethnic group. No doubt there are people who do not believe in Nigeria as it is currently structured. Similarly, there are those who believe that the amalgamation of the north and south was either a genuine mistake or a deliberate gerrymandering by the British colonial government in line with its interests; still there are others who are convinced that the north and south do not share anything in common culturally, therefore it is impossible to live together as one nation; others feel that Nigeria is too large a country, therefore would prefer an arrangement that would give each region self-determination; and yet there are even those with separatist agenda, such as Boko Haram, NDPVF, MASSOB, MEND, and OPC, who believe that everyone should go his separate ways for whatever reasons they hold. From the foregoing picture, what has become very clear is the fact that the unity of Nigeria has been under intense threat, and with the current divergent political interests and the combative nature of most politicians in pursuant of do-or-die politics, what would likely be the picture post-2015 elections? As a matter of fact there are people who threatened to put the country on fire if their preferred candidate does not win the presidential election. How can Nigeria be the winner after 2015 elections against the forces of anarchy, violence, and disintegration? What should be the strategy for this winning agenda? The 2015 elections represent just the peak or high point of this contest, but there are many other factors that come to play in deciding the “how” to make Nigeria the winner.

The 2015 elections are not going to be the first in Nigeria, but there are signs that they would be the most critical in Nigeria’s history. These elections would hold in a highly charged political environment, a situation that began within the last 15 years but apparently reaching its peak currently. Although there are a number of differences between the current situation leading to the scheduled February 2015 elections and those relating to past elections in Nigeria, the most serious one however is the fact that at no time in the history of this country did we find ourselves so divided along religious and ethnic lines than now. Most politicians rely on the strength and efficacy of using religion and ethnicity as tools for political mobilization by taking advantage of the strong religious and ethnic sentiments among Nigeria’s populace. Hardly do politicians argue on the basis of the issues reflecting national interests and national development, and to a large extent, the bulk of Nigeria’s population neither understands nor appreciates the implications of such political manipulations. Furthermore, capitalizing on Nigeria’s unequal wealth distribution system, a rich natural-resource country but with over 70% of the population living below the universal poverty line, politicians have also introduced money as an additional tool for political mobilization. People are ready to do anything for money, including selling their votes and killing political opponents. It is very clear the extent to which politicians have used money to establish private “armies” used for political violence with the clear mandate by their masters to maim or kill whoever they consider an enemy, using all kinds of weapons (including small arms and light weapons). The last 15 years have witnessed the gradual militarization of politics which gave birth to, for example, the Borno ECOMOG, now transformed to Boko Haram; all manners of armed “cultists” groups, especially in Rivers; the Niger Delta militant groups, such as NDPVF and MEND; the Yan K’alare of Gombe; Ombatse of Nasarawa; the Area Boys of Lagos; the Egbesu Boys in Niger Delta; Sara-Suka of Bauchi; Bakassi Boys of Cross River; Yan Daba of Kano; Kauraye of Katsina; etc.

On the other hand, although one may argue that the process of politicization of the military began with the January 1966 Major Chukwuma Nzeogu’s coup which led to the termination of the First Republic and the beginning of an extended involvement of the military in politics, it is equally worthy to note that the last 15 years of the current democratic dispensation has witnessed a deeper politicization of the military and of course, the police. Both institutions have been distracted from their constitutional and professional responsibilities into carrying out tasks that seem to be geared towards regime security, rather than national security. Though there was an attempt to re-professionalize the military beginning in 2003 using a framework designed to transform the Nigerian Army over a ten-year period, there appears to be a derailment, though not in the form of direct involvement of the military in governance, rather it had to do with the deployments of the military to perform tasks that are outside their constitutional responsibilities. Almost all the states in Nigeria have maintained Task Forces, a combined military and police outfits, funded by the State Governors and deployed to conduct routine policing duties, a situation that is detrimental to the constitutional functions of the military in particular. By and large, if the initial phase of the transformation project designed to end in 2013 had succeeded the army would have improved on its professionalism, culture and values; curbed waste and corruption for greater efficiency; meet both local and international obligations at less cost; repositioned to effectively deal with its traditional roles based on new fighting concepts and broad range of threats; and developed lighter, lethal, sustainable, and rapidly deployable and responsive force (see Framework for the Transformation of the Nigerian Army in the Next Decade, Volume 1). Today the performance of the military against the Boko Haram insurgency has been below expectation, a situation that has been tied to both tangible and intangible factors such as discipline; inadequate or inappropriate equipment; poor leadership; and quality of personnel and troops morale. The professional conduct of our armed forces and police is being questioned by the international community following the accusations of human rights abuses; and our sincerity in dealing with terrorism is being doubted for various reasons. The situation is gradually reversing the position the Nigerian military held in the immediate past as one of the best in the world as a result of the leadership role we played in the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Somalia, Sudan, and a host of other countries under regional and UN peacekeeping missions. It was not long ago in 2009 that the UN Peacekeeping Department honored the Nigerian Military with the accreditation of pre-deployment training package at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Center, the first in Africa to be so accredited, with the capacity to train two battalions simultaneously. With that accreditation we were in position to train UN peacekeepers from anywhere in the world, but I am not sure if that would be the case now. It is instructive to note that the military is one of the major instruments of national power, and no country can afford losing it. The insurgency in the northeast has exposed our weak capacity and lack of clear political will to deal with the situation. Would the 2015 elections lead us to an era in which this instrument of national power could be strengthened and made robust?

Now to the 2015 elections themselves which are not only central to this dialogue, but also significant in making Nigeria the winner. Of course elections are very important in democracy, especially in emerging democracies, like ours. It was the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Anan, who said that “when citizens go to the polls and cast their votes, they aspire not only to elect their leaders, but to choose a direction for their nation” and according to him, only elections with integrity can bolster democracy, while flawed elections undermine it. I agree with Kofi Anan’s assertion, but how do we ensure that the 2015 elections in Nigeria would turn out to be of integrity in order to avoid undermining our nascent democracy? How do we conduct elections with integrity using the so-called “stomach infrastructure” by attracting votes with 5kg bags of rice? How do we ensure elections with integrity in a situation in which almost all the outgoing Governors, regardless of party affiliation, anoint their chosen successors prior to elections, thereby disregarding people’s choices? And those who still have the opportunity to seek re-election for another term are given automatic ticket, regardless of their performance, thereby not only blocking other contenders from exercising their rights to participate, but also denying people the right to choose their leaders?

Closely linked to the success of the 2015 elections is the role of INEC in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. There are quite a number of challenges the INEC is now facing, thus: if we have to count on our past experiences, there is some level of certainty that attempts would be made at various levels to rig elections, and the INEC would have to contend with how best to prevent it; likewise, previous elections were accompanied by logistics inadequacies, and it is hoped that INEC has done a lot of work in this regard so as to avoid delays in the movements of elections materials in particular; already there are problems with the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) and the registration of voters, and with the way things are going, there is likelihood that a large number of Nigerians (including me) would be disenfranchised; funding is another area of challenge, and INEC has made this known to the public several times that the government has not be able to provide it with adequate funds; and the fourth challenge has to do with the current insecurity in the country, particularly the northeast. How can Nigeria be the winner if these challenges are not addressed?

I want to emphasize the significance of security during elections, but in particular the 2015 elections. The INEC would conduct the 2015 elections in an environment that is confronting serious security challenges that are unprecedented, due to the insurgency in the northeast where a significant number of Local Government Areas could still be under the control of the Boko Haram as at the period of elections; where a sizeable number of Nigerians have been displaced from the homes and scattered in various make-shift camps and other places. In other places such as Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, and Katsina, there are people displaced as a result of either ethno-religious crisis or clashes between herders and farmers, also resulting in the displacement of significant population in the affected areas. According to a joint report by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Center and the Norwegian Refugee Council providing 2014 Global Overview, approximately 3.3 million Nigerian are displaced due to all kinds of violent crises (the figure must have increased by now). We must note also that there is equally a significant number of Nigerians who are refugees in the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Furthermore, the fact that a good number of these displaced persons and refugees are eligible voters, how can Nigeria be the winner of the 2015 elections without these people being able to exercise their rights to vote? How about the over 200 Chibok girls and other abductees who are still missing, and what is their fate? Can Nigeria still be the winner while these girls remain captives in the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists?

Examining the current challenges, particularly the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria as a whole, and the insurgency in the northeast in particular, there are people who think that the elections should be postponed. If this should be the case, then this dialogue we are holding today becomes irrelevant. Therefore, we should also attempt to look at the alternative scenario in terms of the impact postponing the elections would have in the polity. If the elections were not to hold, what would be next line of action in terms of ensuring peace and stability? Would the suggestion of postponing elections not introduce another set of problems? Although some people have suggested an interim government or government of national unity, who would such a government and what would be the nature of its composition? While I do not expect Nigeria to be an instant winner with just the 2015 elections, the elections would certainly lay a strong foundation for ultimate victory if they are violent-free, and perceived to be free, fair and credible. This goal can be achieved through the combination of efforts by INEC, Security Agencies, Political Parties, the Media, and Voters themselves: First, INEC must not only be neutral, but must be seen to be neutral and truly independent, by ensuring that no contestant is shortchanged; that there is a level playing field for all parties, so that no party is disadvantaged; that the electoral laws are fully adhered to and enforced, while violators are sanctioned accordingly; that adequate logistics arrangements are made to ensure that election materials are delivered accordingly, in addition to strict adherence to timings and programs; and any attempt by any participant either as individuals or parties to rig the elections should be rejected. A situation in which the people believe that elections are not free and fair, governance becomes difficult, if not impossible, due to the fact that political leadership would fail to be recognized by those who feel betrayed, as such would continue to struggle for legitimacy until next elections. This is even more serious when complaints are not addressed and resolved either politically or legally. Second, security agencies have a tremendous role to play in support of INEC by ensuring that they not only provide adequate security during the elections, but that they also remain neutral. Not only that security agencies must as a matter of necessity stick to their constitutional role to ensure that law and order are maintained, but they must also not allow themselves to be used to intimidate voters. Third, the role of political parties in driving the campaign in orderly and peaceful manner is very significant in the success of elections process. Where national interests are threatened, for example, parties must put aside their differences to work together towards protecting such interests against violation. Parties must stick to the rules of the game and avoid mud-slinging or casting aspersions against political opponents. It is equally important for the political parties to maintain focus and avoid statements that would overheat the polity. Fourth, the media (both electronic and print) is a very critical and vital institution in this project. As a public agenda setter; a gate keeper on public issues; a watchdog of political transparency and fight against corruption; and a fourth estate which provides the needed checks and balances in relation to the three branches of government; the media has a crucial role to play in national development. However, to succeed in their role, the media must be professional and objective, therefore must avoid bias, sensationalism, propaganda and distortions, particularly in a society like ours with many fault lines. For the 2015 elections, the media must lead the civil society in ensuring that the elections are free, fair and credible in the overall interest of the nation. Fifth, Nigeria will win if the voters themselves vote freely to elect credible people not on the basis of religion, ethnicity or monetary inducements. Voters must not engage in any acts of violence and brigandage that could lead to the destruction of lives and properties. Matchets, knives and daggers are not the weapons of voters, but rather the most potent weapon for the voter is his or her vote which he or she must use wisely to vote for the candidate of his or her choice.

Post-2015 elections Nigeria cannot be the winner if the current insecurity environment is sustained, particularly the threats posed by terrorism and insurgency of Boko Haram in the north. Every day we live with the hope that the insurgency in the northeast would end using multi-dimensional approach so that the future would not experience such threats that have had devastating effects on our lives. How can Nigeria be the winner when the vast majority of people live in perpetual fear? Freedom from fear is not only a fundamental right in human security, but it also compliments the freedom from want. Unfortunately both freedoms are under serious threats. Educational institutions, markets, worship centers (such as mosques and churches), and motor parks, that are the major areas in which the bulk of daily activities of Nigerians are concentrated have become the main targets of terrorist attacks. Such attacks cripple the educational system; immobilize the movement of people; deny people the means of sustaining their lives; deny them their fundamental right to practice their faith; and above all, deny people the right to decent living (the insurgency has taken away their food, housing, education, and healthcare). In the southeast and south-south, people cannot move freely due to the fear of kidnappers and violent cultists. In the south west, ritual killers are lurking around for unsuspecting victims, especially women and children. How can Nigeria be the winner if the people residing in her territory are experiencing such hurtful disruptions of their daily lives? According to the first UN Human Development Report (1994), human security involves a “process of widening the range of people’s choices” in which “people can exercise these choices safely and freely, and that they can relatively be confident that the opportunities they have today are not lost tomorrow.” How can Nigeria be the winner if the choices of the people residing in her territory are narrowing instead of widening?
Beginning 1999, it is now 15 years of democracy in Nigeria, but we are yet to consolidate it. We have already discussed the first step towards consolidating democracy, that is, free, fair and credible elections. Next, is the issue of good governance manifested in clear observance of democratic tenets, imbedded in adherence to the rule of law; respect for human rights; accountability; transparency; inclusiveness; and popular participation. Next, is strengthening of democratic institutions, and ensuring that there are adequate arrangements for checks and balances among the executive, legislature and the judiciary. Although there have been major challenges in the last 15 years, the Fourth Republic has been the longest so far in Nigeria’s democratic experiment. Is there any possibility that the 2015 elections could usher in the path for democratic consolidation in Nigeria? Yes, there is. But this is only possible when the right people are elected: people who are competent and of high integrity; people who are focused and selfless; people who are courageous and loyal; people who respect human rights and appreciate the rule of law; people who would be transparent and are ready to be held accountable; people who understand the essence of human security; people who are ready to once more make Nigeria the giant of Africa; people who appreciate that without peace and security there will be no development; and above all, people who believe in Nigeria as a united, indivisible nation. These are the kind of people that would guarantee Nigeria’s economic, political and social stability to put her on the path of sustained growth and development.

I have attempted to suggest a path to follow in order to make Nigeria the winner come 2015 elections. While this may not be the only path, I believe following what I have provided for this dialogue will go a long way in ensuring that we at least achieve very reasonable level of peace and stability. I do hope that my points would encourage or provoke enough discussions in this dialogue.