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Three-Day Capacity Building Training Workshop for Young Democracy Drivers on Democracy and Civic Engagement in North-West Nigeria

Communiqué

Three-Day Capacity Building Training Workshop for Young Democracy Drivers on Democracy and Civic Engagement in North-West Nigeria

Preamble


A 3-day Capacity Building Training Workshop for Young Democracy Drivers in North-West Nigeria on Strengthening Youth Political Participation in North-West Nigeria with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was organized by the Organization for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN) from August 29 – 31, 2019 held at K-Suite Hotel, Race Course Road, Kano. A total of 36 participants took part in the workshop. This number comprised 20 males and 16 females. These participants came from diverse groups in the five North-West states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Zamfara, including youth organizations, student union bodies, civil society groups, media, political class, etc. The conduct of the workshop involved presentations, contributions, questions and answers on various themes.

Objective of the Workshop
The main objective of the Training Workshop was to strengthen the capacity of youth to demand for good governance and political accountability in North-West Nigeria.

Key Issues from the Presentations
A total of 7 papers were presented on various topics throughout the three days of the Workshop. On Day 1, two papers were presented on these topics: “The Concept of Youth Democracy Drivers and Reporting Format” and “Introduction to the Concept of Open Government Partnership”.

On Day 2, three paper presentations were made on “The Concept of Democracy and How Democracy Work”, “The Concept of Political Party and Political Parties Development in Nigeria” and “The Concept of Civil Society and their Role in a Democratic Society”. Similarly, on Day 3, the last day of the Workshop, three papers were as well presented on “The Concept of Political Pluralism”, “Election and Electoral Process” and “The Rule of Law and Human Rights”. The last day was devoted to the development of “Action Plans on State-Level Activities” by the participants, presentation of workshop proceedings and communiqué. Arising from the paper presentations, some key issues were raised, discussed and deliberated by participants during the 3-day training workshop. These issues were as follows:

1. Youth Democracy Drivers is concept coined by the OCCEN that describes how a trained youth engages in democracy education. It implies how a person specially trained by OCCEN can carry out an intensive democracy education at the grassroots level.


2. Open Government Partnership refers to “a multilateral initiative that aims at securing concrete commitments from government to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technology to strengthen governance”.


3. Democracy involves a process of electing leaders who would form a government of the people with a view to representing the interest of the generality of members of the society. It is a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.


Democracy is made up such essential elements as recognition of the fundamental worth and dignity of each and every person, respect for the equality of all persons, faith in majority rule and minority rights, necessity of compromise, individual freedom, etc. The two main types of democracy are direct and representative/liberal/constitutional democracy.


The pillars of democracy are sovereignty of the people, government based upon consent of the governed, majority rule, minority rights, guarantee of basic human rights, free and fair elections, equality before the law, due process of law, constitutional limits on government, socio-economic and political pluralism, values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation and compromise.


4. Political Parties are political organizations that typically seek to attain and maintain political power in a political system usually by participating in electoral politics, educational outreach or protest actions. Political parties often espouse an expressed ideology.


The functions performed by political parties are that they:


a) Act as platforms for socialization and mobilization.
b) Promote a broad set of core beliefs to reach their members as well as other voters
c) Serve as core avenues for elite formation and leadership recruitment.
d) Articulate varied interests and aggregate public opinion because of the common agenda.
e) Provide mechanism for Representation in the political process.
f) Formulate goals and set policy tone for society.


5. Civil Society refers to the domain that mediates between the public and private sectors offering community members space for activities that are voluntary to unite the private and public sectors for the general good.


Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) refers to the full range of informal and formal organizations through which citizens pursue common interests. CSOs comprises autonomous associations which develop a dense, diverse and pluralistic network, it develops, it will consist of a range of local groups, specialized organizations and linkages between them to amplify the corrective voices of civil society as a partner in governance and the market. CSOs are recognized as the essential “third” sector of governance.


CSOs are important to democracy because they can:


a) Can mobilize citizens for civic action.
b) Provide additional opportunities for the people to participate in the democratic system and processes.
c) Help to oversee the conduct of state officials.
d) Help to advocate and give voice to citizen’s political desires and ideals.
e) Complement the services delivered by the state, particularly at community level.
f) Help to inform citizens, educate them about democracy and remind them of their rights and responsibilities.
g) Help develop citizens’ skills to work with one another to solve common problems, to debate public issues, and express their views.
h) Provide a training ground for future political leaders, etc.

6. Political Pluralism is a term “used to analyze political actions in modern democratic states”. Philosophically, it implies diversity of conflicting values. Sociologically, the term is used to apply to a society whose groups are characterized by religious, cultural and ethnic differences. Pluralism and democracy are not incompatible; they are mutually reinforcing foundations of healthy, stable and prosperous societies. Therefore, pluralism refers to “a society, system of government, or organization that has different groups that keep their identities while existing with other groups or a more dominant group”. Scholars that espouse pluralism include among others: Harold Laski, Ernest Barker, MacIver, Lijphart, Crowford Young, G.D.H. Cole, etc.


The characteristics of pluralism include the fact that:
a) The theory of pluralism is mainly based upon a perspective that citizens are involved in political arenas through different interest groups.
b) In plural democracies, sovereignty resides NOT with the state but with many other institutions (social, political, cultural and economic).
c) It also suggests that political power should be dispersed to secure its legitimate interests and none of these groups will dominate the system.
d) In plural state, there exists no single source of authority.

7. Election is the process by which political leaders and/or public office holders are recruited and produced. It is also a decision making process where people vote for preferred candidates or political parties to act for and on their behalf in government. It connotes a decision making process where people vote for preferred candidates or political parties to act for and on their behalf in government.


There are two types of elections in most democracies: Primary and Secondary Elections. In primary election, before people are elected, they are usually nominated or selected as candidates from among all individuals who aspire to a particular office either at the local level, state or federal levels in federal systems. Secondary election is when those produced after the parties primaries compete with other candidates from different political parties, and the voters at the end, determined which among the nominated candidates shall hold office.


Electoral Process is defined as “the entire gamut of the process leading to the conduct of elections, and to some extent, activities in the aftermath of the conduct of election elections. It includes the totality of activities that span over a period of time with each stakeholder having a role to play in order to see the overall success of the process”.


8. Rule of Law means “any legal system in which public powers are conferred by law and wielded in the forms and by means of the procedures the law prescribes”. It denotes legal and political systems in which all powers, including legislative power, are constrained by substantive principles normally provided for by the constitution, such as the separation of powers and fundamental rights, etc.
The essence of the rule of law is to serve as a guarantee against arbitrary rule in the society. Under the rule of law, no one is above the law, not even the government or leader. Democratic governance thrives on constitutionality, respect for rule of law, delivery of services and the protection of human rights of the citizens. Thus rule of law constitutes one of the pillars or foundations of democracy


Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to very person in the world, from birth until death. They are the totality of rights and liberties, immunities and benefits to be enjoyed by human beings. Human Rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language or any other status. We are equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible
On December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly (Resolution 217) adopted fundamental human rights contained in 30 Articles to be universally protected. These rights include: Right to Equality, Right to Private and Life, Liberty, Personal Security, Right to Own Property, Freedom from Discrimination, Right to Equality before the Law, Right to Education, Right to Dignity of Human Person, Right to Fair Hearing, Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press, Right to Freedom of Movement, etc.


The Communiqué
At the end of the 3-day training, the workshop issued the following as the major issues discussed and observations agreed upon during the three-day event:


1. Even though democracy has its age-old tenets which demand equality before the law by all citizens and that the interest of the people should always prevail, it is not practiced in Nigeria today in line with these doctrines because of the selfishness of elected office holders.
2. That the rule of law in Nigeria’s democracy is inhibited by such factors as executive lawlessness and impunity, certain cultural practices, weak institutions, low public political education, prevalence of corruption, etc.
3. There is the problem of human rights abuses in Nigeria as exemplified by torture of citizens by security agents and extra-judicial killings of citizens in the country.
4. That transparency which involves operating in an open, honest, non-secret manner by leaders so that others particularly the followers can see and understand what is going on is lacking in Nigeria’s democracy.
5. Similarly, there is little or no accountability among Nigerian leaders because of their overriding selfish interests over public good, corrupt tendencies, poor display of leadership qualities, lack of the fear of God and inadequate awareness among Nigeria’s electorate regarding their human rights.
6. CSOs and the media have great roles to play in deepening democracy in Nigeria and they must not relent but redouble their efforts in performing their functions.
7. Freedom of expression connotes the ability to express oneself without hindrance. It also implies the ability to criticize government actions or inactions, hold independent contrary opinion and the right to be heard or given audience.
8. Elections remain the only mechanism of acquiring political power in modern democracy. However, in Nigeria, elections lack the required democratic ingredients of transparency and credibility.
9. That Nigerian political parties lack internal democracy, have no ideology and cohesion necessary to sustain democracy. This is further demonstrated by the uncultured behavior of politicians who hardly remain loyal to their political parties.
10. That constituency engagement which enhances grassroots participation in policy making and community involvement in governance is absent in Nigeria as a result of lack of civic consciousness, indifference by members of the public to participate in the political process, lack of unity of purpose in the communities and the influence of other factors such as corruption and godfathers on the practice of democracy in Nigeria.
11. In order to make positive impact in society, the youth should serve as democracy drivers in their various communities by undertaking youth policy events, town hall meetings in order to open up the space for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.
12. That capacity building seminars and/or workshops should be organized to educate political party members (i.e. card-carrying members) on party policies and action plan.
13. That all political parties in Nigeria should be based on principles and ethics such as supremacy of parties over their members, upholding the constitution of parties, engaging with party members in the decision making process, making party manifestoes public, etc.
14. That the judicial system should be strengthened to properly midwife democracy.
15. That we should ensure that there is compliance to the law mandating representation from young people, PWDs and women.
16. That separation of powers should be practised by changing the system of governance adopted in Nigeria i.e. separation of powers should be institutionalized and should not just be on papers.
17. That all democratic institutions in Nigeria need to be strengthened to reflect democratic ideology.
18. We advocate for the independence of labour unions/bodies to enhance their contribution in the policy and governance processes.
19. That CSOs should be allowed to actively participate in budget preparation process to ensure that every facet of the society is fully carried along, and for easy follow-up after implementation.
20. That there should be transparency in the activities of labour unions in order to gain public confidence i.e. their agitations and negotiations should be done publicly so that union members and the general public will be aware.
21. That all labour unions should champion a singular cause that is for the interest of the public rather than fighting for their personal interests.
22. That all state legislatures in Nigeria should be totally autonomous.
23. That there should be checks and balances using OGP as a tool at the state levels to ensure that the state affairs are run in the open.
24. For political parties in Nigeria to be functional and proactive, there should be provision of rules and/or laws to ensure transparency within the parties and among the party members.
25. That for political parties to be functional and proactive, it should be ensured that funds generated through registration for the party should be spread across to ensure that the party is sustained even at the grassroots level.
26. There should also be massive sensitization of political party members in Nigeria.
27. That for Nigeria to improve the internal democracy of her political parties, the following are recommended: critical stakeholders’ engagements, policy regulations, legal & regulatory measures and media awareness.
28. In order to regulate the influence of State Governors on political parties, political ideology should be strengthened.
29. Also, the SIECs at the state level should be given total independence in order to minimize the influence of State Governors on political parties.
30. It was agreed that a two party system is better for Nigeria in the following ways: It will help minimize wasteful spending on elections; it will also minimize confusion during voting; credible candidates will be selected and elected into public offices; it will provide a good atmosphere for healthy competition among the candidates contesting for elected positions; and it will reduce unnecessary cross-carpeting thus, making the electoral process easier for the INEC to manage.
31. To enhance the performance of CSOs in Nigeria for them to be effective, there should be more focused capacity-building for them, provision of more security and financial support for the CSOs, and they should be mobilized on time so that they can in turn, create more awareness in the electorate towards improved future elections in Nigeria.
32. That political parties and electoral umpires needs to ensure that proper and well-followed electoral education (voter education) is done before, during and after elections, in order to do away with electoral violence, voter apathy, vote selling and buying and other electoral irregularities.
33. That competent and well trained security personnel should be engaged to man elections in Nigeria.
34. That there should also be synergy between electoral bodies at all levels.
35. That god-fatherism in Nigerian politics should be avoided because of its negative influence on the electoral process.
36. The challenges identified in the Nigerian electoral process are numerous; they are noticeable in the pre-election period, during election and in the post-election period. Some of such challenges in the pre-election period include: Lack of internal democracy in the political parties, incompetent electoral staff, external influence on electoral body, inability of INEC to issue PVCs on time and late distribution of election materials. During elections, the challenges are: Untimely distribution and arrival of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, faulty equipment (Card Readers), provision of inadequate electoral materials, omission of party logo on the ballot paper, ballot box snatching, non-compliance with the electoral guidelines, non-usage of ICT gadgets to transmit election results from polling units and vote buying and violence during the voting process. In the post-election period, some of the challenges include: Post-election violence, hate speech, election petitions and corruption in the judiciary which leads to prolong petitions.


Pre and Post Workshop Assessments

In order to ascertain the value of the workshop and its positive impact on the participants, two mild surveys were made in order to assess the level of participants’ understanding of the issues discussed before and after the workshop. The result of the survey is presented below in tables, pie charts and bar graphs.

Table 1a: The Level of Understanding of Youth Political Participation before Workshop

 

The Level of Understanding

Frequency

Percent

Poor

2

5.7

Fair

11

31.4

Good

17

48.6

Excellent

5

14.3

Total

35

100.0

Table 1b: The Level of Understanding of Youth Political Participation after Workshop

The Level of Understanding

Frequency

Percent

Poor

00

00

Fair

00

00

Good

13

37.1

Excellent

22

62.9

Total

35

100.0

Figure 2a: The Knowledge about the Concept of Open Government Partnership (OGP) before workshop

 Figure 2b: The Knowledge about the Concept of Open Government Partnership (OGP) after Workshop

Figure 3a: The Level of Understanding Youth Inclusion in the OGP Process before Workshop
 

Figure 3b: The Level of Understanding Youth Inclusion in the OGP Process after Workshop

Table 4a: The Level of Understanding of the Concept of Democracy before Workshop

The Level of Understanding

Frequency

Percent

Fair

8

22.9

Good

24

68.6

Excellent

3

8.5

Total

35

100.0

Table 4b: The Level of Understanding of the Concept of Democracy after Workshop

The Level of Understanding

Frequency

Percent

Poor

00

00

Fair

00

00

Good

17

48.6

Excellent

18

51.4

Total

35

100.0

 Figure 5a: The Level of Understanding of the Concept of Political Party before
Workshop

 

Figure 5b: The Level of Understanding of the Concept of Political Party after Workshop


 

Figure 6a: The Level of Understanding of Concept of Civil Society and its Role in Democracy before Workshop

 Figure 6b: The Level of Understanding of Concept of Civil Society and its Role in Democracy before Workshop

 Table 7a: The Level of Awareness of Political Pluralism before Workshop

 

The Level of Awareness

Frequency

Percent

Poor

14

40.0

Fair

12

34.3

Good

8

22.9

Excellent

1

2.9

Total

35

100.0

Table 7b: The Level of Awareness of Political Pluralism after Workshop
 

The Level of Awareness

Frequency

Percent

Poor

00

00

Fair

1

2.9

Good

7

20.0

Excellent

27

77.1

Total

35

100.0

 

Figure 8a: The Level of Familiarity with Election and Electoral Process before Workshop

 Figure 8b: The Level of Familiarity with Election and Electoral Process after Workshop

Table 9a: Level of Understanding of the Rule of Law and Human Rights before Workshop


 Table 9b: Level of Understanding of the Rule of Law and Human Rights after Workshop

 

Assessment of the Workshop by Participants

Table 1: The Relevance of the Workshop Content

The Level of Relevance

Frequency

Percent

Strongly disagree

00

00

Disagree

00

00

Somewhat agree

2

5.7

Agree

9

25.7

Strongly agree

24

68.6

Total

35

100.0

 

Figure 2: The Comprehensiveness of the Training Content

 

 Figure 3: The Ease of Understanding Training Content

 

Table 4: The Workshop was Well Spaced

 

The Workshop was Well Spaced

Frequency

Percent

Strongly disagree

00

00

Disagree

00

00

Somewhat agree

6

17.1

Agree

17

48.6

Strongly agree

12

34.3

Total

35

100.0

Figure 5: The Workshop was Participatory

Figure 6: The Workshop was Knowledgeable

 

Table 7: The Workshop was Well Prepared

The Workshop was Well Prepared

Frequency

Percent

Strongly disagree

1

2.9

Disagree

1

2.9

Somewhat agree

00

00

Agree

10

28.6

Strongly agree

23

65.7

Total

35

100.0


Figure 8: The Best Thing I liked about the Workshop

 

Table 9: The Least Thing I Liked about the Workshop

The Least Thing I Liked

Frequency

Percent

Disrespect for time

8

22.9

No variety of food served

2

5.7

No time for networking

6

17.1

Others

12

34.3

No response

7

20.0

Total

35

100.0

Figure 10: Usefulness of Activities in Learning Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

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