Opposition Politics in Emerging Democracies: Appraising the Roles and Challenges of Civil Society Organizations towards Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria

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Musa Kabir Umar
Abubakar Sani Tambai

Abstract

Objectives: This paper investigated the roles and challenges of Civil Society organizations (CSOs) as opposition actors in their drive towards democratic consolidation in Nigeria. As the third sector, Civil Society is known to be at the forefront in the democratization process for quite a long period, however, their contributions are continuously being relegated especially by the state who viewed them with negative lenses, particularly when they are opposed to their heinous political practices. The paper had, therefore, tried to pinpoint the tremendous task of three civil society organizations, namely Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Alliances for Credible Elections (ACE), and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) by unveiling their unflinching roles and challenges towards democratic consolidation in Nigeria. Methodology: It achieved this objective by using a qualitative semi-structured face to face interviews supported with secondary sources of data through which thorough discussions and analysis of how the civil society organizations serve as the major player in opposition politics rather than the misperception that the political parties are majorly at the forefront in democratic consolidation process. Results: It finds out that Civil Society is more enduring and trusted in seeing that the ideals of democracy are strictly followed for the smooth consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. The study revealed that CSOs in Nigeria had promoted the reliability of election by observing every phase of the country’s electoral process. They have also stimulated policy changes in some crucial governmental socio-economic policies such as the Freedom of Information bill. Indeed, the CSO’s have promoted democratic principles of civic participation, political engagement, and tolerance in the population, thereby advancing democratic citizenship, which immensely contributed to democratic consolidation in the polity. Again, the study revealed that CSO’s faced challenges of funding, which seriously distresses their operations and sustainability. Implications: The paper concluded by suggesting that the Civil Society must devise a means of economic survival as well as further strengthens their capacity through training and retraining to fully understand how governments operate for effective and concrete criticisms that would enhance democratic productivity and development.

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Research Article