By Emmanuel Mogbede
Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) has advised the country`s political leaders to develop a more positive disposition towards Civil Society Orgnisations (CSOs).
He gave the advice in a statement on Monday in Abuja, adding that a better relations between CSOs and the Federal Government would facilitate and improve government, citizen engagement.
“Political leaders in the country should be encouraged to develop a more positive disposition towards civil society in the country.
“To achieve that, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be able to provide leadership in initiating and implementing activities to facilitate negotiations for improved relationship between the Federal Government and civil society.
“Part of the objective should also be to enhance processes of political leadership recruitment in the country, which are hardly planned and largely impulsive.
“This can be achieved if political parties in the country broaden membership mobilisation to include engagement with civil society as a strategy for leadership recruitment,’’ Lukman said.
He, however, emphasised the need for CSOs to change the orientation of operating with a mindset of being in opposition to the Federal Government.
He noted that repressive military rules in the past, mutual distrust and dislikes between government and civil society leaders had led to a broken relationship between the two sides.
According to him, this has led to civil society getting funding from foreign organisations.
He further noted that the background of repressive military rule had made campaigns for human rights and democracy the primary focus of CSOs.
He said this had fueled the negative mindset that translated to opposition to government which was deeply rooted among civil society leaders.
The PGF DG said while civil society leaders believe that opposition to the government is a requirement for their work, government functionaries on the other hand, has contempt for civil society and their leaders.
“A major problem is when being independent from government is applied in a way that blocked relationship with Nigerian government, but encourages relationship with foreign governments,’’ he said.
He wondered why CSOs’ relationship with Nigerian government is considered bad, but relationship with foreign governments is seen as good.
Lukman said there should be continuous negotiation between government and civil society going forward, with a framework that guarantees their independence.
He advised that the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the party in government should work towards developing this relationship, adding that the NOA needed to initiate and implement activities to facilitate negotiations.
This, he said, could facilitate strengthened engagement between the Federal Government and citizens and democratic development.