CSOs WANT CITIZENS TO DEMAND FOR ACCOUNTABILITY FROM GOVT
Civil rights groups or Civil Society Organisations emerged as a result of people in government using their power to intimidate and harass the citizens.
In the United States of America, some individuals who believed that Government should be responsible, came together and fought to free slaves, agitating for their rights against discrimination. The role of Civil Rights Groups in the sustenance of democratic rule has remained unquestionable.
The installation of democratic governance in Nigeria was largely attributed to the activities of civil rights groups. However, there has been genuine concern as to the continued effectiveness of Civil Rights Groups in consolidating democracy in Nigeria.
Some residents of Enugu metropolis interviewed lauded the proactive intervention of some Civil Rights Groups while some frowned at the activities of those they described as the bad eggs among them who were out to make money instead of ensuring that Government remained accountable to the people. A member of a Civil Rights Group and Consultant with Women Aids Collective, Dr Malachy Ochei explained that the Civil Society had a role to play in the country.
According to Dr Ochei, there are inalienable rights that people are entitled to which include transparency in governance, conducting periodic elections, accountability and deepening the root of democracy. Dr Ochei however frowned at the Civil Rights Groups which either antagonized Government unnecessarily or patronized it unduly as a result of being funded by it.
He stressed that Civil Rights Groups should be independent to embolden them to check the excesses of the Government and hold officeholders accountable to the people. An official of Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, Mrs. Virgy Obianyo explained that the groups had played a leading role to deepen democracy since 1999 by helping to track Government budget to ascertain their all-inclusiveness and realization.
According to Mrs. Obianyo the Civil Rights Groups such as Women Information Network, Women Aid Collective, Yordel Africa and CIRDDOC among others are committed to ensuring transparency in governance, organising training, information and educating society on their rights. She however frowned at the activities of some Civil Rights Groups which she said may have necessitated the recent directive by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajamila that the operations of all such groups be subjected to probe by Government.
As Nigeria celebrates its fifty-ninth independence anniversary, officials of the Civil Rights Groups call on citizens to ask questions and demand for accountability from the government.