Civil Society Organization And Democratic Consolidation In Nigeria And Ghana

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Civil Society Organization And Democratic Consolidation In Nigeria And Ghana


Civil Society Organizations played an instrumental role in the restoration of democracy in Nigeria and Ghana and in recognition of their important role in democratic transition in both countries they were considered by both scholars and international organizations as a veritable tool for democratic consolidation. The argument that CSOs aid democratic consolidation in both countries and account for the dissimilarities in democratic consolidation necessitated this study.

Therefore, the study examined the nexus between civil society organizations and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana and noted like in other studies that CSOs in both countries suffer from lack of unity, communication gap, inadequate personnel, among others. Hence, this study deduced that civil society organizations in both states perform similar functions and share the same problems. In this context, the study argues that it is not CSOs that account for the differences in democratic consolidation as regards free and fair election and the alternation of power between the two major political parties in Ghana. The study posited that the differences in the nature and character of both states are the underlying factor that account for the marked differences in democratic consolidation in both states.

The study made use of ex-post facto research design, qualitative method of data collection, qualitative/descriptive method of data analysis and adopted the theory of post-colonial states. The study noted that CSOs do contribute to democratic consolidation in both states but are facing problems associated with post-colonial states and that the nature and character of both states influence the roles of CSOs in the process of democratic consolidation and this is what account for the differences in democratic consolidation in both countries. It recommended among others, the strengthening of CSOs by government of both states, adequate funding by donor agencies and adoption of effective method by CSOs stakeholders to engage the state.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) among several forces played an instrumental role in the restoration of democracy in developing countries, and such pivotal roles ushered in the third wave of democratization in Africa especially in Nigeria and Ghana (Huntington, 1993; Diamond, 1999; Gyimah-Boadi, 1996; Aidoo, 2006; Imade, 2007; Ojo, 2011; Majeed, 2011; Odeh , 2012). Before the return to democracy in Nigeria and Ghana, the governments in both states especially during the military regimes, hitherto were unaccountable and despotic, and became even more authoritarian as they embarked on unpopular and belt-tightening policies like Austerity Measures, Structural Adjustment Programmes, among others. Also, during this period, the governments were marred by executive lawlessness, human rights abuse and reckless political decisions making. This activated the civil society, determined to check-mate the erosion of rights, freedom and civic values. The conjecture was characterized by intense restlessness among citizens and civic groups, which demanded for democracy, participation and justice (Odeh, 2012).As a result of their above roles, CSOs are considered very central to the current wave of democratization in Africa, in terms of its restoration; were democracy has been absent or was scuttled and consolidation; were their exist democratic institutions but requires to be strengthened. Little wonder, scholars like Diamond (1999); Young (2000); Kew (2005); Imade (2007); Ojo (2011); Majeed (2011); among others have in their various studies posited strongly that civil society organizations were crucial in the restoration of democracy in Africa and according to these scholars, CSOs have greater roles to play in the consolidation and deepening of democracy in Africa. They argued separately and strongly that, if democracy is to be sustained and consolidated in Africa, then vibrant CSOs are not only important but necessary. In line withthe above, Hadenius and Uggla (1996) cited in Majeed (2011:12) contends that: An active civil society is a necessary condition for the development of a democratic system of governance only the free practice of democracy found in civil sphere can promote the development of the democratic popular culture that makes the rule by the people a feasible option. According to Encarnacion (2003), a consolidated democracy appears to depend on the existence of a vibrant civil society. They do this by performing the following functions thus: In recent times, CSOs do execute diverse programs such as voter’s education, election observation, campaign finance monitoring, election tribunal monitoring, electoral reforms advocacy, conflict mitigation, access to justice, public interest litigation, budget tracking, constituency outreaches as well as research and documentation in thematic areas of democracy and governance (Odeh, 2012:61).Furthermore, CSOs are considered catalyst for change, healthy for enhancing good governance and democracy because they are placed in the limelight to fight for, maintain as well as deepen democratic values in Nigeria and Ghana. According to Monga (2009) CSOs have been identified as one of the key actors that are capable of facilitating the processes of democratic consolidation, particularly in emerging democracies (Nigeria and Ghana). In this context, Hearn (1999) posited that a thriving civil society can widen democracy by promoting pluralism, and can deepen democracy by embedding the values and institutions of liberal democracy within society at large, not simply at the state level but also nationally, and indeed, globally. Nigeria attained political independence on 1st October, 1960 and adopted the British type parliamentary democratic system of government. As a result, the country experienced democratic governance between 1960 and 1966; thereafter the military took over political power from the democratically elected government of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (from the eastern part of Nigeria) – then constitutional president without executive powers, and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (from the northern part of Nigeria) – the then prime-minister with full executive powers, (Oronsaye, 1993:18-39; Ikelegbe, 2004:77-82).During the period between 1960 and 1966 (now referred to in Nigeria as the First Republic), the country was under a democratic rule organized under a federal system of three regions – North, East and West. The period also witnessed the interplay of democratic norms when people had the opportunity to elect their political representatives in government. However, the activities of civil society organizations (CSOs) were viewed by government as anti-democratic, even though it is on record that the roles played by these CSOs contributed immensely in Nigeria‘s struggle for independence in 1960 (Okhaide, 1995:188-196; Orji, 2004a:41-51). The culture of intolerance of the opposition and CSOs was the hallmark of the government then to the extent that any contrary views or suggestions were seen as treasonable offence against the government, which actually earned for a number of prominent CS activists prison terms. It was the resultant effects of intolerance of opposition and the CSOs that led to a political stalemate and a near state of anarchy in the then western region of Nigeria, and which eventually contributed largely to the first military coup of 15th January, 1966 that terminated the democratic government of the First Republic. The coup claimed the lives of prominent politicians including those of the nation‘s Prime Minister – Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and Premiers of the Northern Region – Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, and of the Western Region – Chief S. L. Akintola (King, 1988; Asia, 2000:19-25; Ikelegbe, 2004:80-88). The country was governed by the military between 1966 and 1979 and between 1983 and 1999. During these periods, the CS and professional organizations such as the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Campaign for Democracy (CD), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) were at the forefront in the fight against military rule and for the restoration of democracy and democratic governance in Nigeria (Orji, 2004a:41-51). Despite the different military governments that governed the nation, and the difficulties experienced by civilian governments, Nigerians believe that democratic governance based on election of political leaders is preferable to unelected military governments. This preference is based on the fact that a multiparty system, free press and CSOs are supported and better accommodated within the sphere of governance under a democratic civilian rule than in a military administration (McCormick, 2004; Ajayi, 2006:49-62). In the early 1990s, many Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries made transitions to democratic rule during the period described by Huntington (1991) as the third wave of democratization. During this period, democracy spread across Eastern European countries following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As a result of the third wave of democratization, Francis Fukuyama declared in 1989 that with the end of the cold war and the triumph of liberal democracy over communism, the world had reached the end of history. There was a great optimism that with the right kind of support from the western world, the rest of the world would eventually make the transition away from authoritarian regimes. Once democratic transition is complete, these new democracies with the support of the international community would stabilize, ultimately consolidating and mirroring the western democracies. However, as many of these countries did not make any progress and there was no sign of consolidation, the optimism that greeted their transition to democratic rule was replaced by pessimism. As a result of this, some scholars became very critical of these erstwhile democracies. For example, Larry Diamond (1996) called for a distinction to be made between liberal democracies and electoral democracies. FareedZakaria (1997) decried the rise of what he described as “illiberal democracy.” Thomas Carothers (2002) argued that the international community should abandon the transition paradigm, which has been the guiding principle for aiding and promoting democracy in the developing world. The record of ‘third wave’ democratization in SSA too, was as elsewhere, abysmal. According to Manning (2005), between 1990 and 1995, 34 out of 47 countries in SSA had organized some form of legislative elections. Bratton and van de Walle (1997) observed that by 1994 there was no single de jure one party state in Africa. However, by 1998, only Benin, Botswana and Cape Verde were rated Free by Freedom House. The rest of the countries were rated Partly Free or Not Free (Freedom House, 1998). Almost two decades after the third wave, the situation in SSA does not look promising. According to The Freedom in the World 2013 Report, coups and conflicts overshadow electoral successes in Sub-Saharan Africa as countries such as the Gambia, Nigeria, 2 South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Madagascar registered declines in their levels of democracy. Mali, a country ranked in the past as one of the most democratic countries in Sub-Saharan Africa “suffered one of the greatest single-year declines in the history of the Freedom in the World, dropping precipitously from Free to Not Free”.1 Ghana is one of the few countries in SSA that has remained politically stable. It has been improving its democratic credentials since the transition to democratic rule in 1993. Ghana is considered a shining star of a successful democracy on the continent and it has so far organized six successful elections. In July 2012, Ghana organized one of the smoothest political successions in the continent following the death of President John Evans Atta-Mills, who assumed office in January 2009. This political succession saw the transfer of executive power to Vice-President John DramaniMahama. Unlike other political successions in SSA, which were characterized by political crises and uncertainties, Ghana showed political maturity as the government fully complied with the Constitution regarding presidential succession when a president dies in office. The Constitution provides for the vice-president to succeed the president where the president dies before his term expires. Again, in December 2012, Ghanaians went to the polls to elect a president and 275 Members of Parliament (MPs). At the end of the elections, the Electoral Commission (EC) declared the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) as the winner of both the presidential and the parliamentary elections. The NDC candidate and incumbent president, John DramaniMahama, won 50.70 percent of the votes and the party won 148 parliamentary seats. The main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by Nana Akufo-Addo won 47.74 percent of the votes in the presidential election and 123 parliamentary seats.Hence, internationalorganization and governments tend to invest significant amount of resources in strengthening civil society, particularly in developing countries (Nigeria and Ghana) with the goal of consolidating their democracies.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The role of CSOs in governance particularly on the African continent has been established as vital. Ekiyor for instance noted that CSOs have been important catalysts for ending military dictatorship, advocating for pluralist and open societies, and promulgating democratization and good governance. Odeh similarly notes in her research on CSOs in Nigeria that, Nigeria’s return to constitutional democracy is mainly attributable to the work of CSOs in Nigeria. On account of the foregoing, the increasing proliferation of CSO should reflect on the level of good governance prevailing within the sub-region. This notwithstanding, Governance within countries in the sub-region can still be regarded as weak, lacking transparency and accountability with public sector corruption in particular soaring to unprecedented heights in almost all countries. In Ghana, the history of CSOs dates as far back as 1868 when a group of chiefs came together to form the Fante Confederation to address the threat posed by the Europeans in the coastal areas. In recent times, the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) began its operations in 1987 addressing issues such as social and economic rights of people. Since then, CSOs have proliferated, registering their presence in virtually all the regions of Ghana. However, similar to other West Africa regions, there has been a disjoint between the presence of numerous CSOs and the state of governance in Ghana and Nigeria. This constitutes the research problem.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The study mainly examines the CSO-and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana as a case study. Other ancillary objectives are:

  1. To give an overview of the state of governance in the sub-region.
  2. To review the strategies adopted by CSOs in their bid to promote and see to the implementation of the good governance agenda in the sub-region.
  3. To explore the trajectory of good governance in Nigeria and Ghana and the role played by CSOs in this process of good governance.
  4. To identify the factors behind the performance of CSOs in Nigeria and Ghana
  5. To propose recommendations towards enhancing the contribution of CSOs to the good governance agenda in Ghana and the sub-region as a whole

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher to aid the completion of the study,

  1. H0: CSOsdoes not play any role in the trajectory of good governance in Nigeria and Ghana
    H1: CSOs does play a role in the trajectory of good governance in Nigeria and Ghana
  2. H02: CSOs have not critically influenced good governance and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana
    H2: CSOs have critically influenced good governance and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the management of civil society organization as the study seeks to explore the role of the organization in consolidating democracy in West African state with emphasis on Ghana and Nigeria. The study will also be of importance to public office holders as the study seek to explore the benefit of democratic consolidation and good governance among Nigeria and Ghana, the study will also be useful to researchers who intends to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies, finally, the study will be useful to researchers, academia’s students, teachers, lecturers, and the general public as the study will contribute to the pool of existing literature in the subject matter and also contribute to knowledge.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers and assessment of civil society organization and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana. But in the course of the study, there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

Civil society

Civil society is the “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens


Democracy, in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a legislature

Democratic Consolidation

Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was on assessing civil society organizations and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of civil society organization and democratic consolidation in Nigeria and Ghana.

5.2 Summary

In responding to the objectives of this study, it is observed that CSOs have embarked on various activities and strategies which have been influential to some extent. Despite the fact that governments have not been collaborative CSOs have within themselves faced constraints, mostly by their own doings thereby causing their ineffectiveness to a certain degree. It is therefore concluded that CSOs have greatly influenced good governance. Governments must therefore embrace CSOs as partners rather than enemies to help further promote and sustain good governance.

5.3 Conclusions

The study examined civil society, democratic governance and development in Nigeria, and found that CSOs are the engine room of democratic norms in societies. It observed that the nation‘s inability to enjoy democratic governance for development in the past is as a result of, among others, the absence of continuous vibrant civil society arising from weak support and lack of tolerance for their activities by those in government. In addition, the non-adherence to democratic norms by public officials — corruption in the management of government business, has contributed immensely to further underdevelopment of the different spheres of the Nigerian society. Also, the study established a relationship between democratic governance and development, and showed that development is more likely to manifest in a society where democratic norms hold sway, such as popular participation in the elections of political leaders and involvement of the people either directly or through their elected representatives in decision-making, fundamental human rights, freedom of the press and association, freedom of expression and curbing of all forms corruption in government as basis for a developed society. However, for the CSOs to achieve their goals of entrenching democratic norms for development in the different spheres of the Nigerian and Ghana society there is the need for them to unite in their activities against any repression, and resist every attempt by the government to cause division amongst their ranks through the weapon of mass action or protest against undemocratic actions of the government.

5.4 Recommendations

The concern of sustainability of CSOs in promoting good governance is directly linked with their source of funding. CSOs must prioritize generating funds locally by collaborating with private businesses and other local organizations. Through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes of private companies, CSOs can partner with these organizations as the aim of the CSR is geared to ensuring development and empowering citizens. Also, CSOs can consider collaborating with the government and other institutions such as Academic institutions as an alternative source of funding. In developing new funding strategies CSOs will still need to ensure that strategies adopted do not conflict with the main mandate. CSOs could also produce publish books for sale in the core areas they work. To be able to effectively utilize these options, CSO need to create a corporate brand and streamline their processes to be able to attract the appropriate private businesses.Also in the area of sustainability and succession planning, it is recommended that CSO need to make this a priority to build trust and confidence in its stakeholders. It will also provide a strong governance structure that will survive the test of time and bring in the needed technical and other expertise needed to raise funds for the organization. Further this will also ensure that they are able to position themselves to partner the private sector in raising funds and collective action strategies to enhance their research, advocacy and policy input.

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