By Sunday Ani

The Principal Consultant, Social Impact Consulting, Efua Edeh, has lamented that the positive impacts of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) had remained largely unappreciated and unknown to many Nigerians; a development she said had led to several misconceptions about the CSOs among the citizens.

She noted that few bad civil society organisations that receive funds without necessarily carrying out the work for which the funds were meant, had given a bad name to many other genuine organisations that positively serve humanity and contribute to societal development and growth, thereby leaving people with lots of misconceptions ranging from the fact that some receive funds without serving the citizens, to the belief that many are government’s representatives and only promote state agendas.

She stated this yesterday in Lagos while addressing journalists on the role of the civil society in development.

She noted that the varied messaging on the CSOs had negatively affected the civil space, in this case, freedom of speech, association and expression, such that advocacy organisations and civil rights defenders had become subject of attacks by state actors, who physically and judicially harass them.

This development, she noted, has vindicated the Civicus monitor, which posited that the Nigeria civic space ranking has been downgraded from being obstructed to being repressed.

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To address the disconnect between the CSOs and the public knowledge of their critical role in democracy and social development, her organisation, Social Impact Consulting, launched a seven-point episode documentary on the role of civil society in development.

Speaking about the episode, Edeh said: “This includes the role of civil society in education, health, nutrition and three other areas that address the marginalized group – the youths, women and persons with disabilities. These thematic areas are some of the multiple areas that civil society organisations have made significant impacts.”

The documentary, according to her, was powered by Ford Foundation, Macarthur Foundation, Open Initiative Society West Africa, Luminate and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation.

She stated that as Nigerians prepare to go to the polls next month, it was imperative that politicians understood the critical roles that the CSOs play in development. “Since we are currently in election season, this documentary further communicates a message to political candidates to involve the civil society in development and implementation of national policies,” she said.

She thanked all the CSOs that participated in the documentary, particularly the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC, Akin Fadeyi Foundation and Ford Foundation for their support.