Today, National Orientation Agency, in partnership with Connected Development (CODE) and OXFAM held a dialogue series on Shrinking Civic Spaces and the way forward. The series involves Government representatives, Media partners, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and is focused on promoting Civic Inclusion through Digital Media & Communications.
During the program, the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) highlighted the program’s focus on deepening and expanding the civic space, which is a global challenge, in order to ensure that democratic dividends are accessible to those beyond the reach of government. This involves promoting the inclusion of vulnerable groups, particularly Nigerian youth who played a crucial role in the recent election, as well as women who require further interventions despite previous efforts. The Director-General emphasized the need for further exploration and interventions to address the challenges faced by these groups.
In her opening remarks, the Project Coordinator, Seun Durojaiye, emphasized the significance of having all stakeholders involved in the dialogue, to facilitate a thorough discussion, identify gaps and establish effective partnerships that will promote healthier conversations in Nigeria’s civic space.
During the event, Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive Officer of CODE, highlighted the impact of civil society in improving people’s lives. However, he expressed concern about the targeting of civil society organizations. He also noted that hate speech and fake news pose a significant threat to democracy and appreciated the efforts of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in combating these issues, but emphasized that more needs to be done. Lawal commended NOA for taking a leading role in the conversation and for their commitment to the cause.
During the discussion, it was emphasized that governance conversations should be participatory, with civil societies playing a vital role. It was also stressed that the takeaways from the program should not be limited to individual civil society organizations working in isolation, but rather expanding the scope of opportunities for all stakeholders in the shrinking civic space. The aim is to entrench democratic values in the country and ensure that everyone is involved.