Sunday, September 18, 2022



Oluwatoyin Mathnuel Publisher INSIGHT MAGAZINE MAGONLINE NEWS 

  As Nigeria inches towards the 2023 General Elections, various interest groups have begun engagement of the electorate towards making the best use of opportunities being offered by the elections to improve the nation.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) in this group, which operate under the Campaign for Transformation Governance, held a two-day public enlightenment workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 6 and 7, 2022 at Toprank Hotel, Ikeja-Lagos.

The move was to proffer what style of governance suits the masses as the people march towards the election.

Throughout the workshop, the concerns that were brought to the fore were the promotion of trade unions and CSOs collaborations in the protection of democratic civic space in a fragile democracy like Nigeria.

The event, which was held under the auspices of Campaign for Transformation Governance, included pro-labour and civil society organisations. There were representatives from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) and several pro-masses CSOs.

Co-Convener of the group, Jaye Gaskia, in a chat with the media, maintained that the aim of the gathering was to evaluate the campaign for good governance so far and influencing the emergence and evolution of democratic governance in Nigeria.

He maintained that the focus of the campaign is to ensure that pro-people organisations, labour and civil society engage with the politicians, influencing their interests in campaigns, the elections and the aftermath.

Comrade Gaskia maintained that the groups have been holding town hall meetings with participants in the elections and engaging the candidates on their programmes for the people.

He identified most of the problems facing the citizens as those bothering on lack of electricity, poor healthcare sector and lack of good water, etc.

He stressed: “We want to ensure that the 2023 general elections are fought on crucial issues concerning the people and not on trivial issues.”

He also stressed the need to ensure effective access to public service delivery in the form of education, healthcare, energy, transportation, housing and environmental issues, among others.

Gaskia also spoke on the need for the security of the people to be taken care of and access to good road governance. He maintained that if there is human security, there will be reduction of crime and insecurity.

Hwe also stressed the need for public education of citizens to make them politically informed to make crucial political decisions.

“We intend to deepen the spread of the discussions. We need to organise debates at national and state levels’ we plan to mobilise Nigerians to make informed decisions during the elections. We have to draw up Charter of Engagements and get the different candidates to commit themselves to.

“The campaign is not just for the elections, but the nature of governance. We are committed to defending civil space. We are mobilising all efforts to defend the right for people to organise themselves, the right to associate and the right to assembly and the right to express ourselves,” he explained.

Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, the General Secretary, Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) and Co-Convener, Coalition for Revolution (CORE), in his speech, said the ongoing campaign by the CSOs and labour movements is to ensure that the working people are pushed forward in political discussions. 

This, he said, has become necessary considering the condition the ruling class has left the people, almost prostrate with myriads of problems.

According to him, “When people are sick, they seek medical solutions that aggravate their condition because the state of public health is nothing to write home about. The students are at home because the necessary equipment to make university education worthwhile are absent.

“There is no electricity.  There are no programmes to organise work places in clusters. What we have here are activities that throw people to the streets.”

Komolafe stressed that the issue of unemployment is not well handled by the federal and state governments, hence there is an increase in crimes. He cited the ban on okada operations in parts of the country without provision of alternative means of living for the people, a move which he said will lead to rise in crime rate.

He also tackled the government for acquiring the places where informal sector workers operate and do their business, and turning such places to estates or plazas out of the reach of the original informal sector workers. He lamented that in the same way, the government demolished markets and put up model structures which the ordinary traders cannot afford.

Komolafe stressed: “Workers should be more informed of their rights. We want to get the politicians to be accountable to the people. The constitution provides for social welfare, security, healthcare. The politicians should ensure that they implement the provisions of the constitution as it affects the people.”

Several other speakers harped on the need to track the performances of the politicians even up to their constituencies and that the people should demand their rights from their representatives in government.

For instance, the representatives of Organised Labour said: “Good governance is a right and should be demanded from the politicians. This time, people should vote for individuals or personalities and not political parties. We need one who can turn our economy around.

“Nigeria should no longer be a dumping ground for imported goods. We need one who can guarantee security. We want everyone to be involved. We will talk to all the candidates, although Labour has a party.

“In the 2023 general elections, let us vote wisely. Salaries are not paid. The take home pay is not enough. People are suffering. We must hold the politicians accountable. We want politicians that will be compassionate and accountable to the people.

“How can we harmonise house rents? Housing is a problem. We need politicians who can implement their programmes. We should be able to exercise our power to recall non performing politicians.”

Also another contributor maintained that most of the youths cannot be employed, hence they go in to cyber crimes and rituals for money. They maintained that the incoming government should ensure that the youths are fully and gainfully employed, by providing the enabling environment for job creation and business to thrive.

A particular contributor urged mothers to discourage their sons from getting involved in thuggery. The speaker, a lady, pointed out that the children of politicians do not engage in thuggery and electoral malpractice, but the children of the poor.

She said that the youths should not allow themselves to be used by bad politicians to cause chaos during the coming elections. She lamented that several youths, mostly children of the poor are bought by evil politicians to engage in killings and destructions during elections, while their own children are safely abroad studying in privileged higher institutions. This, she stressed, should no longer be allowed to thrive.

During the workshop, the youths were taught several other things including grassroots mobilisation, their civil rights and responsibilities as well as the good use of social media.


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