About CHRICED and its role in the conference
The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education is registered under the law of Federal Republic of Nigeria as an independent, nonprofit, and non partisan Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). CHRICED will be in charge of the project consultancy for this conference. CHRICED will organize all Secretariat support and the general preparations towards the hosting of the conference, including the invitations, logistics arrangement, as well as any other relevant secretariat functions within the purview of the Project Consultants.
Rationale for the formation of CHRICED
The Transition from military to civil rule in Nigeria gave rise to new forms of citizen mobilization and new definitions of citizenship. The pro-democracy movements in most cases exerted the pressure, which resulted in the transition to civil rule. The objective of the pro-democracy groups was to get the voices of the ordinary citizen heard in the political and governance processes.
But after over one and half decade of the latest democratic dispensation, Nigeria is increasingly experiencing the emergence of blocked transition where the popular participation does not exist. There is increasing monopolization of political power by the ruling elite. There is also the acute economic crisis generated by the burden of debts, corruption, unemployment, and the lack of sustainable policy for the development of Nigeria. This has resulted in increased violent upheavals, misery and mass poverty in the country.
Thus, CHRICED is born out of consideration that:
- Democratic elections without genuine political participation lead to a government and legislatures which deny inclusiveness. Genuine participation implies a rigorous engagement with citizens on their fundamental rights, the political system (including political parties, electoral procedures, representative institutions), and civic roles and responsibilities.
- Institutions which are not democratic in their functioning inhibit democratic outcomes. In a transitional democracy such as Nigeria, there is need to reform the Constitution, the electoral system, and key political institutions such as the legislature, judiciary, and local governments to ensure they represent the aspirations of citizens. Rule of law is a basic requirement of democracy. It is the glue of a democratic system which must be guaranteed by establishing, among other things, civilian control of the military and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
- Political parties are the classic vehicle for the articulation of the voices and interests of civil society in the political arena and state institutions. But a gap has developed between civil society and political parties/state institutions in Nigeria. There is need to reflect on the reasons for that gap and bridge it.
- Political parties should be democratic, representative, inclusive, and open to civil society oversight and alliances. Most parties in Nigeria today are either (a) representing oligarchies or former power holders, (b) composed of former radicals that have not adjusted to norms and practices of partisan politics, or (c) individuals united by their personal interests in seeking power, without coherence, credibility and innovative political platforms. There is need for internal party reforms and the party system in Nigeria to evolve towards aggregating citizen interest in the democratic and governance processes.
- There is need to strengthen the State to ensure the accountability of duty bearers, transparency, efficiency and the democratic oversight of public institutions, and policies.
- The conditions for political participation are guaranteed when there is a free press, access to information, freedom of association, and the prevalence of the values of tolerance, equal opportunities and non-discrimination. While the State is responsible for establishing the safeguards, the development of a democratic culture is a process rooted principally in civil society and is part of the claims that are articulated by organized actors.
- Citizenship is intimately connected to the nature and level of political participation. The various dimensions of citizenship, i.e., its social, economic, civil and political, ought to improve through the process of democratic transition and consolidation, but this is not necessarily the case when political participation is blocked and thus limited to few elite. Civil society’s articulation of demands and proposals to develop and enhance the quality of citizenship in relation to the State and political institutions is a key component of democratic development.