CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA AND GHANA, 2003 – 2013
Civil Society Organizations played an instrumental role in the restoration of democracy in Nigeria and Ghana and in recognition of their important role in democratic transition in both countries they were considered by both scholars and international organizations as a veritable tool for democratic consolidation. The argument that CSOs aid democratic consolidation in both countries and account for the dissimilarities in democratic consolidation necessitated this study. Therefore, the study examined the nexus between civil society organizations and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana and noted like in other studies that CSOs in both countries suffer from lack of unity, communication gap, inadequate personnel, among others. Hence, this study deduced that civil society organizations in both states perform similar functions and share the same problems. In this context, the study argues that it is not CSOs that account for the differences in democratic consolidation as regards free and fair election and the alternation of power between the two major political parties in Ghana. The study posited that the differences in the nature and character of both states are the underlying factor that account for the marked differences in democratic consolidation in both states. The study made use of ex-post facto research design, qualitative method of data collection, qualitative/descriptive method of data analysis and adopted the theory of post-colonial states. The study noted that CSOs do contribute to democratic consolidation in both states but are facing problems associated with post-colonial states and that the nature and character of both states influence the roles of CSOs in the process of democratic consolidation and this is what account for the differences in democratic consolidation in both countries. It recommended among others, the strengthening of CSOs by government of both states, adequate funding by donor agencies and adoption of effective method by CSOs stakeholders to engage the state.
1.1 Background to the Study
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) among several forces played an instrumental role in the restoration of democracy in developing countries, and such pivotal roles ushered in the third wave of democratization in Africa especially in Nigeria and Ghana (Huntington, 1993; Diamond, 1999; Gyimah-Boadi, 1996; Aidoo, 2006; Imade, 2007; Ojo, 2011; Majeed, 2011; Odeh , 2012). Before the return to democracy in Nigeria and Ghana, the governments in both states especially during the military regimes, hitherto were unaccountable and despotic, and became even more authoritarian as they embarked on unpopular and belt-tightening policies like Austerity Measures, Structural Adjustment Programmes, among others. Also, during this period, the governments were marred by executive lawlessness, human rights abuse and reckless political decisions making. This activated the civil society, determined to check-mate the erosion of rights, freedom and civic values. The conjecture was characterized by intense restlessness among citizens and civic groups, which demanded for democracy, participation and justice (Odeh, 2012).
As a result of their above roles, CSOs are considered very central to the current wave of democratization in Africa, in terms of its restoration; were democracy has been absent or was scuttled and consolidation; were their exist democratic institutions but requires to be strengthened. Little wonder, scholars like Diamond (1999); Young (2000); Kew (2005); Imade (2007); Ojo (2011); Majeed (2011); among others have in their various studies posited strongly that civil society organizations were crucial in the restoration of democracy in Africa and according to these scholars, CSOs have greater roles to play in the consolidation and deepening of democracy in Africa. They argued separately and strongly that, if democracy is to be sustained and consolidated in Africa, then vibrant CSOs are not only important but necessary. In line with
the above, Hadenius and Uggla (1996) cited in Majeed (2011:12) contends that:
An active civil society is a necessary condition for the
development of a democratic system of governance…….only the free practice of democracy found
in civil sphere can promote the development of the democratic popular culture that makes the rule by the people a feasible option
According to Encarnacion (2003), a consolidated democracy appears to depend on the existence
of a vibrant civil society. They do this by performing the following functions thus:
In recent times……, CSOs do execute diverse programs
such as voter’s education, election observation, campaign finance monitoring, election tribunal monitoring, electoral reforms advocacy, conflict mitigation, access to justice, public interest litigation, budget tracking, constituency outreaches as well as research and documentation in thematic areas of democracy and governance (Odeh, 2012:61).
Furthermore, CSOs are considered catalyst for change, healthy for enhancing good governance
and democracy because they are placed in the limelight to fight for, maintain as well as deepen
democratic values in Nigeria and Ghana. According to Monga (2009) CSOs have been identified
as one of the key actors that are capable of facilitating the processes of democratic consolidation,
particularly in emerging democracies (Nigeria and Ghana). In this context, Hearn (1999) posited
that a thriving civil society can widen democracy by promoting pluralism, and can deepen
democracy by embedding the values and institutions of liberal democracy within society at large,
not simply at the state level but also nationally, and indeed, globally. Hence, international
organization and governments tend to invest significant amount of resources in strengthening
civil society, particularly in developing countries (Nigeria and Ghana) with the goal of
consolidating their democracies.