A Professor in Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ayodele Olukotun has called for the reawakening of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to deliver the nation from the brink of catastrophe.
He bemoaned that CSOs have declined in the activities they are known for under the military era due to their involvement in partisan politics, adding that their low response on issues combating the nation in recent times is detrimental to democratic system in the country.
Olukotun spoke recently at Oba Kayode Adetona second annual Professorial Chair in Lecture tagged: ‘Civil Society and governance in Nigeria’s evolving democracy 1999-2018’ held in Ogun State.
He maintained that CSOs must assert itself more daring than before in the public sphere with a view to pushing more in the frontiers of the struggle against impunity and democratic consolidation.
The Don lamented that CSOs involvement in partisan politics is undermining their role on issues of public interest demanding urgent attention, saying, endorsing President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term by some of them is anomaly.
“Where else do you find CSOs endorsing somebody? How do CSOs who are not state funded endorse a candidate, I think it is anomaly.”
Citing examples, Olukotun said civil society organisations ought to have developed facilities to challenge Senators take home as revealed by Senator Shehu Sani, saying, “Is this not an issue for CSOs attention irrespective of political parties.
He said: “Undoubtedly, civil society can no longer be the informal parliament or opposition which it was under the military, given that many civil society activists are now members of political parties and obviously reflect partisan rather than society-wide perspectives.
“Indeed by now, CSOs ought to have developed facilities for entering the public space to contest such issues and mobilise opinion without resorting to violence.
They cannot be cherished if they fail to speak to the anguish and woes of a blighted citizenry in a country where the political class has gone gaga with stupendous cornering of the nation’s resources.
“Similarly, reinventing civil societies must include campaigns to get the people to own democracy saying for as long as people are viewed as bystanders or objects of policy making to be wooed only at election seasons, will Nigerian democracy remain shallow and unconsolidated.”
Also speaking, the Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Adetona lamented the non-involvement of traditional rulers in policy making in the country as it were in the colonial era.
He stated that the traditional rulers are more closer to the people hence the need for them to be included in making policies in the country.
The monarch stated that before the arrival of the colonial masters, traditional rulers were in charge of the administration of towns and communities, and they ensured peaceful coexistence among their people.
He, however, lamented that as soon as the politicians took over governance, the politicians neglected them in policy formulation.
Adetona said, “When the colonial masters came, they recognised the role of the Obas in the society and there was peace and stability. It is sad to note that our present political leaders do not recognise the role of traditional rulers in the society.
“They are supposed to consult with the Obas because they are closer to the people and they know the problems and yearnings of the people.
Today, Obas are speechless and sidelined; they cannot contribute to government policies; this is why we are experiencing killings, armed robbery, thuggery and violence in the country.
“Obas are not worshipers of idols, they are in charge of the people. Government should contact the Obas before they roll out policies because they know the yearnings and the needs of their people.
Adetona also urged the Federal Government to invest more on the security of lives and property and not infrastructure alone.
According to him, if lives are not secured, who will utilise the infrastructure?
“This is why we established this lecture to contribute and advise government so we can help Nigeria overcome its challenges.
The N250 million Oba Sikiru Adetona professorial chair at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye was launched in 2016 with the aim to promoting good governance in Nigeria and to improve standard of education in the country.
As explained by the monarch, the endowment was aimed to see Nigeria take giant strides in the area of good governance stemming from quality education, research, mentorship and community engagement.
He noted that education has a pivotal role to play in the quality of governance, saying that he decided to lend his little support in that area as a royal father.
According to him, “I made the move with high hopes that it would help the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye start a production-line of leaders who will be molded for good governance.