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Table of contents




  • General Introduction
    • Background to the study
    • Statement of the Research Problem
    • Research Questions
    • Aims and objectives of the study
    • Significance of the study
    • Assumption of the study
    • Theoretical framework
    • Scope and Limitation of the study
    • Methodology
      • Research Design
      • Instrument of Data collection
      • Identifying the variables
      • Validation of instrument
      • Method of Data collection & Analysis
    • Definition of terms



  • Literature

2.1  Introduction

2.2  Civil Society and Democratic Governance in History

2.3 Civil Society And The Consolidation Of Democracy In Nigeria

2.4 Problems Affecting the Effectiveness of Civil Society in Nigeria

2.5  The Way Forward




3.0  Democracy: Between Cynicism And Fatalism

3.1  Cynicism And Fatalism

3.2  State and Civil Society in Nigeria

3.3  The State and Civil Society: Nigerian Perspectives

3.4  Hegemony and Power in the Nigerian State

3.5  Defining Civil Society

3.6  Some Characteristics of Civil Society

3.7  Some Enemies of Civil Society

3.8  Despotism / Dictatorship

3.9  Civil Society and State in Nigeria

3.10 Democracy and the SAP Trap

3.11 Democracy and the Politics of SAP

3.12 Religion, Ethnicity and Democracy

3.13 Ethnicity, Religion and Nigerian Politics

3.14 The Nigerian State, Democracy and the Secular

3.15 The Nigerian State and Democracy




4.0  Democracy and the Organs of civil Society

4.1  The Nigerian Bar Association

4.2  Religion and Civil Society

4.3  Democracy and the Common Good

4.4  Military Dictatorship, Civil Society and the Collapse of the Common Good

4.5  The Impact of Myownised Power on Civil Society and Democracy

4.6  Options for Civil Society

4.7  Cloning Civil Society

4.8  From Prisons to the Trenches

4.9  The Politicization of the Human Rights Movement

4.10 The Gani Fawehinmi Phenomenon

4.11 The Annulment of the June 12 Presidential Elections

4.12 The Role and Contribution of Religious Organizations

4.13 The Intellectual/Professional Classes

4.14 The Military

4.15 Engagement, Disengagement or Incorporation

4.16 Co-option, Incorporation and Rejection

4.17 Cloning Civil Society and Reshaping Political Space

4.18   The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

4.19 Commission for States Creation

4.20   National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON)

4.21 Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF)

4.22   Council of Leaders of Thought

4.23   Earnestly Seeking Abacha




5.0  Summary

5.1  Conclusion

5.2  Recommendation




The role of civil society in democratic sustenance in Nigeria is an indisputable fact of the nation democratic and developmental aspiration must be realized. The installation of democratic governance was largely in part to civil society activities. However, there has been genuine concern as to the continued effectiveness of civil society consolidating democracy in Nigeria. This study is therefore a critical analysis of civil society in Nigeria. It straights and limitation and how such limitations can be over some. In doing this, we made use of secondary data. Using the group theory our chief recommendation is that civil society can be more effective of they maintain a high degree of independence from the government.






1.1  Background of the Study

Nigeria experience with democracy has been epileptic since 1960 when she got her independence from the British administration, 1999 will be the third attempt of the third republic is excluded as it was abolished even before it started) in coming to grasp with democratic ethos. In each, practices widely accepted to be at variance with true spirit of democracy was perceived to be the major reason for democratic demise in Nigeria, violence, corruption, political association and very recently, godfatherism has not only undermined her democracy but has gone a long way to threaten it’s very sustenance.

Due to the way it’s been pursued, democracy in Nigeria has come to mean many things to many people. A lot of people have not been able to extricate on distinguish if from dictatorial regimes despite the fact that there are perceived elements of major characteristics of democracy. For instance, it has been alleged that in many quarters that even when elections are conducted, citizens are not allowed to go pass the voting process in having a good share in the elected government of the day (Adele, 2001).

The role of civil society is not only strengthening but also ensuring it’s sustenance becomes very imperative. However, civil society roles in consolidating democracy in third world nations has been doubted, this is because why credit must be given to them for ensuring that democratic transitions are successful, they lack what it takes to assure it’s continuation. According to (Bondi, 1995), there are many factors responsible for this, lack of funds, depending on government and of course political polarization are some of the many reasons that has contributed to the effective weakness of civil society in third world nations specifically Nigeria. Civil society is defined by (Diamond, 1999), as “The realm of organized social life that is voluntary, self generating (largely), self supporting, autonomous from the state and bound by a large order and a set of shared rules” the need to reexamine their functions in a organized state. This is because according to (Diamond, 1999), it is distinct from society in general in that it involves citizens acting collectively in the public sphere to express their interest, passion and ideas, exchange information, achieve initial goals and make demands on the state and hold local state officials accountable. Civil society is an intermediary entity standing between the private sphere and the state.

The lack of mutual set goals and exchanged information which has risen due to the politicization of civil society has rendered it so weak to hold state officials accountable. Third World civil society is no longer intermediary entity standing between the private sphere and the state, rather as earlier asserted lack of finance (find) has been by many to have been co-opted by the state in advancing their selfish interest. A good example is the infamous June 12, 1993 election allegedly won by M.K.O. Abiola. Though it was adjusted as the freest of election in Nigeria till date, it was annulled by the military leadership of General Ibrahim Babangida. However, according (Chikendu and Kalu, 1996), the polarization of civil society especially as it reflects their geographical location (North/East-West dichotomy) especially strengthen the military resolves to be adamant to the peoples’ wish. Nevertheless, it is believed that civil society have great role to play in sustaining democracy in Nigeria for as indeed all third world nation, if the concept of civil society by Diamond as quoted is true of third world nations, civil society then consolidating democracy in Nigeria for instance will be are instance will be a reality, but as already shown above, the role played by these civil groups have become questionable, given the constraints that hinders their effective organisation.

This research therefore, is very timely in that it will rigorously and systematically look at civil society to be of immense help in consolidating democracy in Nigeria by overcoming their weakness. Many reasons given for these weakness which ranges from co-optation of such associational group will be looked at. In other words, the problem, bedeviling civil society in Nigeria will be highlighted and prospects of s strong civil society as it helps to consolidate Nigeria nascent democracy.


Professor Bayart opined in essay and other writings of his as one of the most sympathetic scholars on the African condition. He first of all enters a caveat when he says from the onset of his essay.

The concept of democracy and human rights are the product of Western history. They derive from the value placed on the idea of the individual (as opposed to the person) which precolonial societies did not share and which was introduced into Africa in the wake of colonial rule (Dean-Francois Bayart, 1986).


There are, however, others who would argue that civil societies existed in Africa before the experiences with colonialism. We cannot progress with our reflections on civil society in Africa in general until we situate our study in the historical context of African experiences before, during and after colonialism. The issue of the role ad place of the state in pre and post-colonial Africa has been a source of intense contestation in African academic discourse (Claude Ake, 1981).

This was for him, the basis for the convergence of morals and politics. If morality and politics were inseparable or intrinsically linked, this was so because it was a necessary condition for confronting and resolving the human predicament. (Adele Jinadu, 1996)


1.2  Statement of the problem

The lack of an effective and viable civil society has called to question the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Therefore, this project work intends to look at the role of civil society can play in effectively ensuring the continuation of democracy in Nigeria, it will also highlight some of the problems that could mitigate against the mergence of a viable civil society and look at how the strength of Nigeria civil society could be enhanced.

1.3  Research Question

Most students of African political scene agreed on the fact that both ethnicity and religion are the most dangerous threats to the attainment of democracy in Africa. Ethnicity and religion has been a major concept in civil society, which raises a lot of research question on democracy. Such questions are: Does religion had a role to play in democratization process of any nation?

Such institutions as labour, the Academia, women, the Bar Association and student union. These institutions has it provided the leadership and the spark for the process of democratization to commence? How and why have these institutions been unable to offer the same leadership and dynamic drive in Nigeria.

What is it that made democracy unable to take roots in former colonies such as Nigeria? Was it the case that colonizing states were seeking to give the new state what they did not have, or were they victims of the internal contradictions inherent in the principle of colonialism itself.

It seems necessary to make this diversion so as to make the point that time is not on our side on the project of democracy and development. Why democratic failure in Nigeria?

1.4  Aims and Objective

The aim and objective of this study is to critically evaluate the role of civil society in third world nations particular reference to Nigeria and how such role can effect positively or negatively to democratic sustenance in Nigeria. The effectiveness of civil in casing democratic transition in Nigeria with special reference to it’s consolidating role has been perceived too weak. It is therefore, timely and pertinent to look into the issues and proposed a way forward despite the outline weakness: democracy is still largely adjudged as the best form of government because of the freedom (bill of rights) it ensured in any given polity.


1.5  Significance of Study

The significance of this study will lie in the difference it is capable of making to the enhancement of democratic ethos in the Nigerian political system. It’s premise is that civil society have a great role to play in expanding Nigeria nascent democracy across its territorial boundaries. It will also contribute to the advancement of knowledge as it relates to this field of enquires. It is hoped that it will provoke further researchers in the nearest future.


1.6  Assumptions

The following assumption will be of immense importance in researching the above problems.

Multi ethnic composition of Nigeria society has no significant effect on the viability composition of civil societies in Nigeria

The politicization of civil society in Nigeria has no significant effect on their perceived weakness in playing their role as intermediary between the state and private sector.

The economic decentralization and expansion of the private sector have no significant impact on civil society that are fully independent of the state.


1.7  Theoretical Framework

The theoretical thrust which these work will be based is the group theory of the state. The advocate of the group theory contend that every society includes within it a large number of groups which remained engaging a perpetual struggle for power and domination over each other. These groups were engaged in a process of balancing and limiting each other, through which harmony between the various interests in society of which groups were the exponents could be maintained. The intellectual root of the group theory lies in the doctrines of pluralism which was developed in the early twentieth century by a number of scholars, why the pluralist had produced some brilliant insight in to the group basis of society and recognized a multiple pattern of group affiliations and loyalties, the group theorists saw in this pattern functional basis of government, Bentley (1908), to whom the origin of the group theory in it’s present form can be traced introduced the concept of “interest” in trying to answer the question as to what gives direction to group activity.

According to him, it is this interest that differentiates a genuine group from a coincidental collection of people or what he refers to as “castigational group”. However, this interest which is a shared attitude concerning a claim or to be made by one group upon certain other group in a social system sometimes are in conflict. Vanna, (1975). The ability or capability of the state therefore to absorb these various interest which are later expanded on the state as demanded could go a long way to ensure stability for the entire system as a whole.

Civil society group ineffectiveness in Nigerian political system which some of these groups gravitate towards these states (co-opted) can explain in terms of lacking the necessary pre-requise to stand independently from the state. As a group therefore, there is need not only to define their interest but also to have access to decision making or influence decision making in the party.


Therefore, as a guide, the group theory, will help us to look at civil society and how they can play an effective role in Nigeria.


1.8  Scope of the Study

We will restrict our scope of analysis to the geographical entity known as Nigeria and the various civil society group found in it. These various groups will be used as case studies from time to time as the circumstances demands, however, these does not mean that when the situation demands, references will not be drawn from other  countries in as much as it will help to advance our case.


1.9  Limitation of the Study

As the case usually is, there are certain limitations the researcher will be faced with in the cause of this work. One is in the area of finance which might have a direct consequence on the quality of suitable materials. Apart from finance, also considering the fact that research work of this nature are often done within a time frame. The study therefore can not be exhaustive in it’s entirety.

However, it is hoped that these constraints so named, will be checked mated by making the best use of the materials we have and spending more than the necessary time in the research work, therefore, we strongly believe that despite these constrain, it’s effect on this research report will be minimal. Thus making the objective and significance of the study.


1.10       Methodology

Secondary sources of gathering data will be largely employed for our variables. This again will be based on content analysis, what these involves is the critical review of related materials, literatures, journals, magazines and textbooks, it will also involve sourcing or browsing the net for materials. Communication with authorities in the field will also not be overlooked.


1.11       Definition of Terms

Conceptual clarification is a major requirement for any scientific or empirical research. It lay the basis for outright understanding of major concepts that will be used, this is because concepts is the “building block” of any given discipline. The following concepts therefore, needs operational clarification.

Civil Society: A whole range of social groups that seek to operate independently of the state such as, private business, enterprises, labour unions, trade association, religious bodies, student organizations, artistic and publication (Gold 1999).

It has also been seen as an intermediary entity standing between the private and the state, it is distinct from society in general in that it involve citizens acting collectively in the public sphere to express their interest, passion and ideas, make demands on the state and hold state officials accountable (Diamond 1995).

Democracy: A political system providing for the participation of citizens in political decision making, often by the representatives of governing bodies (Giddens 2001).

Sustainable democracy: A state of affairs in which none of the major political actors, parties organized interest, forces or institutions consider that there is any alternative to democratic processes to gain power and no political institution has a claim to veto the action of democratically elected decision makers.




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