THE IMPACT OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN SUSTAINING DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria experience with democracy has been epileptic since 1960 when she got her independence from the British administration, 1999 will be the third attempt,(if the third republic is excluded as it was abolished even before it started) in coming to grasp with democratic ethos. In each, practices widely accepted to be at variance with true spirit of democracy was perceived to be the major reason for democratic demise in Nigeria, violence, corruption, political association and very recently, godfatherism has not only undermined her democracy but has gone a long way to threaten it’s very sustenance.
Civil Society is that segment of society that is distinct from the state and political society. It consist of civil associations or independent groups formed by people with common interest or aspirations, either politically, economically, socially or culturally, with the view of checking the activities of the state such as exercise of power, civil and human rights and distribution of resources. Civil Society exists as the engine of democratization. It sets the pace to facilitate the democratic process, providing basis for the limitation of state power. It also supplements the roles of political parties by stimulating political participation; promoting the development of democratic attributes and creating channels other than political parties for the articulation; aggregation and representation of interests. It also monitors state activities and disseminates information, which can help the citizens to pursue and defend their interests and values.
Nigeria has spent most of the forty-nine years since independence struggle with political, social and economic failure. Repeated attempts to sustain and consolidate democratic government have faltered. The resurgence of ethnic and religious conflict all over the country has once again fueled pessimism concerning not only the future of democracy in Nigeria, but also the existence of Nigeria as a political entity. The way the government resolves these challenges will determine whether Nigeria’s fledging democracy is transient or sustainable and more importantly, whether Nigeria disintegrates or reconfigures itself as a nation-state
In the light of these concerns, it becomes imperative to reconsider the concept of Civil Society as a possible antidote for Nigeria’s democratic failure. To think about the concept of Civil Society in the context of Nigeria’s political theatre is an exhilarating task. The question that first comes to mind is; will this theorem hold in an environment so different- in every social and physical sense- from that of the West, the citadel of democracy? The answered requires going beyond a prescriptive approach and to employ an approach that linked the concept of Civil Society inextricable to the social, cultural, and historical institution of a society. Thus, Civil Society becomes a representation of the value of those experiencing it and not that of the West.
In recent years, the concept of “democratic government” has become increasingly prominent in the literature on development and the buzzword “civil society” has become a key element of the post-military zeitgeist in the developing world. An increasing attention is paid to democratization’ human rights, popular participation, regime stability, transparency, accountability, probity, privatization, and reducing the size of the state, the important role of Civil Society can no longer be ignored. The growing universal consensus on the relevance of Civil Society to the survival of democracy can be trance to phenomena ranging from the decline of the West state to the transformation of the former soviet bloc to resistance against authoritarian regimes in the developing world.
Democratization in Nigeria has not benefited from this new consensus on Civil Society- post colonial statism and the protected year of military dictatorship have provide a scant basis for the aggregation of private interests and the attenuation of state authority. Consequently, corruption has become widespread in Nigeria society. When Civil Society functions well, it can champion government reforms, confront corruption, advocate respect for human rights, promote, and defend democratic processes and institutions.
In an attempt to explain why the concept of Civil Society is vital for sustaining Nigeria’s nascent democracy and in seeking to forecast future democratic development. These fundamental question will be ask pertinent to the role of Civil Society in democratic consolidation as stated in the research questions below.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
It is widely argued that, the development of any democracy depends largely on some supportive institution in the political system. The most -important of these institutions is the Civil Society. This research will look into the role of Civil Society in sustaining democracy in Nigeria.
Over the year, the Civil Society Groups we have in the country have not been performing their specific, primary, and statutory role. This inability to perform their roles has led to a form of deficiency in the kind of democracy we practice in the country. This research work is directed towards looking at these roles and how why they have not been adequately performed.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This work is designed to provide answers to the following questions:
What is civil society and why is it critical to democratic survival?
What is the relationship between civil society and the state?
Is the consolidation of democracy feasible in Nigeria with reference to the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC)?
Why has the civil society failed to adequately perform and what is the consequences of this failure?
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
To critically assess how Nigeria Labour Congress has contributed in sustaining democracy in Nigeria between 1999 to 2014
To identify factors that shapes the activities of the Nigeria Labour Congress from 1999 to 2014
To understand the nature of state-civil society relations in Nigeria.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It will look critically into the role of Nigeria Labour congress in sustaining democracy in Nigeria.
It will serve as basis for further research and knowledge production on issue of Nigeria Labour Union in sustaining democracy in Nigeria.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The researcher shall restrict the scope of analysis to the geographical entity known as Nigeria and the various civil society group found in it. These various groups will be used as case studies from time to time as the circumstances demands, however, these does not mean that when the situation demands, references will not be drawn from other countries in as much as it will help to advance our case.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
As the case usually is, there are certain limitations the researcher will be faced with in the cause of this work. One is in the area of finance which might have a direct consequence on the quality of suitable materials. Apart from finance, also considering the fact that research work of this nature is often done within a time frame. The study therefore can not be exhaustive in its entirety.
However, it is hoped that these constraints so named, will be checked mated by making the best use of the materials we have and spending more than the necessary time in the research work, therefore, we strongly believe that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study.
Secondary sources of gathering data will be largely employed for our variables. This again will be based on content analysis, what these involves is the critical review of related materials, literatures, journals, magazines and textbooks, it will also involve sourcing or browsing the net for materials. Communication with authorities in the field will also not be overlooked.