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May 6, 2021

Is there a reason that citizens should engage their government? Of what use is talking to a government that citizens perceive continues to fail without their problems being solved?

Citizenship engagement is very challenging, especially in many African countries where the leaders have repeatedly failed the people and there is widespread corruption. Citizens in these countries, including Nigeria, have lost faith in the ability of the elected officials to deliver the holy grail of quality leadership they so much seek from their leaders.

Despite this concern, citizens’ engagement is very essential to holding public officials accountable and enriching the democratic process. Through citizens’ engagement, the government is able to understand the genuine concerns of the people and their needs. It is also an opportunity for the government to carry citizens along within its programs and policies. Once the people are involved and feel involved, they take on their citizenship status, which in turn translates to a better community. The citizens are eager to get the word out
about government policies and programs and follow through.
At @PolitiKIT_NG, we give opportunities to young people to be trained in the areas of community mobilization, advocacy and political leadership. This fellowship program equips the fellows with the necessary skills for community and national engagement.

Here are 7 Reasons why you should be involved in community engagement

  1. Engaging with the government will enhance community building and reduce anti-government sentiments.
  2. Getting involved will inspire other people to join you and may lead to more extensive types of government participation.
  3. Government policies and programs will be improved in terms of administrative feasibility and acceptance. These policies will mostly be tailored according to the needs of the people – thanks to your engagement.
  4. You will help the government have a better understanding of the problems, needs, and priorities of the people.
  5. You will force the government to be more open and transparent which will help build citizens’ trust in government.
  6. You will not be one of the people who sit down and lament the deplorable state of things in your community.
  7. That is how you become a leader because leadership is about solving problems and not lamenting about problems.

May 6, 2021

It is a truism that funds are very critical to the proper and effective running of political parties. Without funds, it would be absolutely difficult for political parties to articulate their ideas and visions to the public and, without which the electorates cannot make informed choices during elections.

Political parties are funded mainly through contributions from party members and individual supporters (e.g. membership fees, dues, subscriptions and donations). Funding of political parties can also come from organizations that share the parties’ political views (for instance trade union affiliation fees), or business establishments that can benefit from party activities (corporate donations).

However, in the Nigerian situation, not many political parties are able to generate funds to fund its activities except for the two dominant political parties. Consequently, these other parties who do have as much financial muscle as the “Big two” are unable to compete favourably against the big two.

At a recent event, stakeholder’s meeting on political party reforms, organized by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), political parties present noted that the inherent danger with the shortcoming is that it allows a few moneybags to hijack the party for selfish and personal interests and godfatherism. These political parties believe that if parties are given funds to operate, it will create a leveled playing field where the so-called smaller parties can compete.

Another argument has been that, because the smaller parties are not able to compete, they are susceptible to being recruited by the bigger political parties to work for them. Instances of these include agent of a party working for another party on election day, candidates stepping down for candidates of the “big two”, coalitions in support of major candidates as seen the cases of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and Coalition of Progressives Political Parties (COP3) which both worked for the PDP and APC candidates respectively.

These kinds of situations no doubt pose a threat to the democratic processes in Nigeria. But is government funding of political parties the solution to this? And if it is, how should this be implemented? Will the other big two political parties and others who have won elections be eligible for this government funding? What would the parameters be for government financing of political parties?

In many democracies around the world, political parties are funded through subsidies or public funding. These are sums the government pays directly to political parties to fund some or all of their political activities. This happens in countries such as Kenya, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Zambia, etc.

In 1998, a subsidy was introduced in Nigeria to encourage the formation of political parties ahead of the transition to democracy. Over the years, this subsidy was thoroughly abused by parties, as many parties got registered and merely awaited election periods for government’s subvention. Most of these funds ended up in the pockets of a handful of party leaders. Between 2003 and 2009, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) provided funds to political parties as subventions. This made setting up political parties
quite attractive in Nigeria, as a group of persons could obviously come together to form political parties just for INEC’s ‘free money’. The requirements for registering political parties were so simple that it made it easy for various groups to abuse this provision. Arguably, the last time political parties received such from the Federal Government was in 2009, during the dispensation of late President Umaru Yar’Adua when the subsidy was removed in a 2010 constitutional amendment. That year, each registered party received N6 million.

Presently, Nigerian political parties have a wide range of avenues for raising funds. Parties can levy dues from their membership, either regularly or upon registration. They can solicit donations from supportive interest groups such as labour unions and private business. Parties also finance themselves by charging would-be candidates for nomination and expression of interest forms before elections. Finally, some parties include in their internal constitutions the right to levy a percentage of salary—usually about five per cent—from their elected and appointed public officers.

If government funding of political parties is re-introduced, how should we ensure we stem the proliferation of political parties with the aim to abuse this policy? If political parties are unable to source funds to pursue their aims and objectives, should they even be registered in the first place as political parties? More importantly, can Nigeria afford the extra expenses of funding political parties? Should this even be a priority?

May 6, 2021

Many Nigerians, every day, are concerned about various issues that border from economy to health to education to social development. Many of us wish we could do something about it and many of us are doing something about it through advocacy. The majority of those working on advocacy has also been
engaged at the community level mobilizing for change. Today’s post discusses the possibility of social change to reduce social inequalities that undermine peoples’ opportunities to equity and economic
prosperity, and the role of community mobilization in facilitating such change. So how do you begin to mobilize for a social change?

  1. Firstly, you need to identify a problem in your community or society that tickles your passion. An issue that you feel very strongly about. It could be degradation of the environment, social injustice, human rights abuse, etc. Don’t be discouraged when people ask you why you choose to advocate for a particular issue over another one which in their opinion is more important. For instance, someone might ask you, why are you advocating for the environment when there is so much injustice around. Don’t be perturbed, there is definitely someone else, whose interest is advocacy against injustice.
  2. Now that you have identified your passion, begin to talk to friends who you think will support your cause. Invite people to come and be part of something bigger than themselves.
  3. Approach community leaders and authorities within your community and discuss the problem with them.
  4. Ask your supporters to refer friends and family. From school to places of worship, to the gym, to professional organizations, and social media, your supporters are in meaningful places you can’t always be. Arm your supporters with creative ways to evangelize on your behalf and make it easy for them to invite their friends and family to join them in supporting your cause.
  5. Encourage the people who support your cause to write an online review or anywhere else they can. A positive review can go a long way in impacting the impressions of prospective donors.
  6. Win real, immediate, concrete improvements through short-term, attainable goals (otherwise known as “issues”). The ultimate goals may not be reached for years or even decades, but you achieve small wins to keep the movement going.
  7. Give your supporters a sense of their own power by promoting the self-confidence of your cause and its individual members. Because people who develop a sense of their organized power are more likely to stay active and take on larger issues.
  8. Continue to engage community leaders, lawmakers and policymakers. Write petitions and get as many people as possible to sign the petition

May 6, 2021

It is less than 23 months before Nigerians will once again go to the polls to elect their political office leaders in an election that is already touted as the most important election in Nigeria’s history. Political watchers and analysts postulate that the 2023 general elections will either break or mar Nigeria; that is, it will ultimately determine the fate of the country and its about 200 million citizens.
So much is at stake such as Nigeria’s unity, which region should produce the next president, who should be Nigeria’s president, restructuring, and so on. Unlike in 2015, when the choices before Nigerians were either APC or PDP, the choices ahead of the 2023 elections are plethora, unique and diverse in their ways. The unemployment rate in the country has shot up to 33.3% from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020. What this means is that over 69 million able Nigerians are unemployed. The combination of a bulging population of unemployed Nigerians and soaring prices of commodities in the market has
brought untold hardship to the citizens. Job creation is very critical to the economic prosperity of Nigerians at this time. The mood of Nigerians towards the current administration, which has been tainted with accusations of nepotism, incompetence and insensitivity, has been nothing short of disappointment and dissatisfaction. The economy has refused to blossom, job opportunities have plummeted and unemployment soars, high levels of insecurity, rising ethnic and religious tensions, massive corruption, etc have made it all imperative that Nigerians must make conscious choices to restore Nigeria’s stability and growth in all sectors. Also in contention, in addition to competence and capacity, is the youthfulness of the president. Recent debates about the actual age of the national leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he marked his 69th birthday in the city of Kano, is a clear indication that Nigerians will vote an individual who is not only competent but also has age on his/her side. It is not surprising that the age of a man who has been rumoured to be
courting the presidency in 2023 can be of public concern. This is because the tedious responsibilities of a president befit someone of a younger age who still has lots of energy in-store; someone who is innovative and a creative leader.

One of the most important choices before the country is either there are deliberate efforts to strengthen the unity of the country with a shared purpose or allow it to continue to wallow in religious, ethnic, and partisan infractions. Should the eventual choice be strengthening Nigeria’s unity, then the country must be restructured as a foundation towards unity. The actualisation of these choices hinges greatly on the political participation of young people. Participation in the political process gives opportunities to individuals and groups to effect the changes they want to see or influence policymakers to effect those changes. This is the work that an organization like Raising New Voices has been doing with young people across the country to ensure youth participation and inclusion in politics and governance.