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Friday, January 21, 2022

Shrinking CSO space: CAFSO-WRAG urges reversal – ITREALMS

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The CAFSO-WRAG has called for reversal of shrinking and closed civic space in the country, reports 
ITREALMS.
Dr. Tola Winjobi
This was contained in the communique arising at the end of a one-day roundtable on strategy for reversing the shrinking and closed civic space and human rights abuses in Nigeria, organized by CAFSO-WRAG in Ibadan, Oyo State recently.
According to the 10-point communique endorsed by the National Coordinator of CAFSO-WRAG, Dr. Tola Winjobi, government should respect CSOs as a key pillar of democracy accountable to the people, and as development actors in their own rights; and should hold effective, inclusive and transparent consultations with CSOs regarding national development priorities and guarantee meaningful CSOs’ participation in decision-making so as to leave no one behind.

They also charged the governments at all levels to operate open and accountable governance and seriously fight corruption by bringing to book all persons found culpable regardless of political party affiliation or status in the society and account for all recovered loots from past and present politically exposed persons.

Equally they said governments should engage with, provide support and emergency assistance to, and take action in defense of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Internally Displaced Persons, stressing that by taking concrete steps to reverse the trends of shrinking and closing civic spaces in development, to protect and enable space for civil society, including enabling laws and regulations, democratic accountability based on human rights norms and human rights standards, and the full protection of civil society under attack – such as social leaders, human rights defenders and gender rights activists, and release those in detention across Nigeria.

As said by them, government should repeal and halt all obnoxious laws, policies, and bills stifling operations of civil society including CAMA and social media bill targeted at the press as these policies are reminiscent of the Satanic Decree 2 of 1984.

“Government should respect democratic country ownership of national development plans, and recognize the importance of the inter-connected themes in achieving Agenda 2030 - civil society voice, eradicating poverty, women’s empowerment, fighting inequality, decent work, climate action and environmental justice -- without which the realisation of the SDGs would be a mirage in Nigeria,” part of the communique said.

Further, the group called on Federal Government to tackle war against insurgency headlong rather than treating killer herdsmen, bandits and terrorists with kid gloves and instead attacking defenceless citizens asking for self-determination and good governance.

“Civil Society should promote, uphold and respect the 8 Istanbul development effectiveness principles by being fully accountable to their development practices,“ Winjobi said.

The group maintained that citizens should be proactive in making government accountable, access information and strategically engage government officials for good governance and sustainable development. While tasking development partners and donors to provide necessary support to CSOs in order to enable them perform their tasks as development actors, and help to promote and strengthen the work of CSOs.

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