Tuesday, 20.09.2022 - FES Nigeria Office, Abuja

#NigeriaRoadTo2023 – CSOs Alliance

Besides the technical issues associated with the 2023 general elections, there are also ambitious attempts for better coordination among civil society organizations (CSOs) and groups, especially in articulating collective charter demands that will positively improve the country’s development trajectory.

Put rightly, what outcomes do the CSOs expect from the 2023 general elections, and what is the disposition of political actors to those expectations? In addition, beyond the polls, what kind of economic, sociopolitical, and institutional environment do CSOs expect in Nigeria? We have seen from past events like #Nottooyoungtorun that when CSOs form a coordinated coalition, they can move the needle to achieve policy change.

The Road to 2023 Civil Society Organisation Engagement meeting brought together Civil Society Organisations to articulate the outcomes CSOs expect from the 2023 general elections and to formulate demands and commitments from contestants and political parties ahead of the 2023 election and collectively push forward a progressive agenda beyond the 2023 elections.

Civil Society Organisations and other actors were actively engaged at the meeting. Some of these Organizations present were Media Rights Agenda, RULAC, Women in Politics Forum, AFRICMIL, Open Minds Young Voices Network, Raising New Voices, The Electoral Hub, PWAN, JADESEMINARS, CLEEN Foundation, Proactive Gender Initiatives, PLAN International, Action Aid, Centre for Democracy & Development, The Albino Foundation, YouPaD, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Inclusive Friends Association, Alliance for Credible Elections.

Ahead of the elections, several concerns were identified including vote buying, low participation, security of voters, electoral materials and officials, marginalisation of young people and the need for inclusion. The meeting deliberated on these and other issues. After the project overview and brainstorming, participants were divided into three groups to articulate the demands of the Civil Societies ahead of the elections.

The three groups had the following terms of reference: articulating the issues, identifying the framework/structure, identifying the tools and activities to advance the issues.

Some of these issues identified were prioritisation of marginalised groups to increase their participation and inclusion in the electoral and political processes, the safety, security, and role of the media during electioneering, election security to ensure the safety of all stakeholders in elections (election officials, voters, journalists, election monitors, etc), voter education drive to bridge the civic knowledge gap among voters, prosecution of fake news peddlers and election offenders amongst others.

Regarding the structure of the alliance; a loose network alliance because of other individual and organizational commitments was proposed with a secretariat domiciled at FES. Proposed tools to engage and tackle some of these issues were the utilisation of the FOI Act, the 2022 Electoral Act, legislations that deal with people with disabilities, leverage media to create opportunities for inclusion of marginalised groups, Code of conduct for security officers on electoral duties, review existing security documents to include other CSOs working in same areas.

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