- Hamzat Lawal has said there is a deliberate clamp down on civic groups ahead of the 2019 general elections
- The activist made the statement during a public forum tagged 'SPEAK' held in Abuja
- Its major focus is breaking down barriers between citizens and communities, and at national levels ahead of 2019 elections
An activist, Hamzat Lawal, says there is a deliberate clamp down on civic groups ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Lawal made the comment while speaking to Legit.ng on the sidelines of a public forum tagged SPEAK! held on Saturday, November 24 in Abuja.
SPEAK! is a global campaign, domesticated in Nigeria by Oxfam International, to help give voice to everyone.
In Nigeria, the campaign is focused on peaceful communal co-existence as a panacea to strengthen the country's fragile systems; individual and groups roles and active citizenship as it affects Nigeria's civic space, elite political capture, and the 2019 general elections in perspective.
Lawal, the chief executive officer of Connected Development (CODE), is partnering Oxfam for the campaign, which major focus ahead of the elections, is breaking down barriers between citizens and communities, and at national levels.
His words: “Today, we know that the polity is quite heated and for us we are advocating and promoting this so that come 2019, the electorates can go out and cast their votes which is their civil responsibility.
“But most importantly, we are engaged in this movement because there is a deliberate clamp down on civic groups. When I say civic groups, I mean civil society organisations, community based organisations, activists, journalists and media houses.
“And for us, we are coming together to say let us create that safe space where young people can share their views and we can share knowledge and information and we can collaborate more in holding government to account.
“CODE is collaborating with Oxfam to lead this movement in Nigeria and we hope that leaving this space, a lot of young people will be better informed and they would spread the message across their various groups and to ensure that come 2019, they will cast their votes, but before then, also get their PVC, engage in public debates and keep holding government to account.”
On his part, Abdulazeez Musa, head, influencing and public engagement at Oxfam, said: “SPEAK! is basically a platform for citizens to engage with one another, to find solutions to issues that affect us as a society.
“That is, talking about issues around closing civic space, basically our ability to enjoy our fundamental human rights. Ability to speak freely, ability to use the social media without any form of intimidation or arrest. Ability to assemble freely or protest freely.
“If you look at our country now, the spaces are either threatened or closing. As citizens, we know what our right is so we can demand for what is right.
“What we intend to achieve here is to get young people to start these conversations. Even the system itself is not responding to our needs because we are not united. We need to come together and know what will want and also feel empowered to engage.
“More importantly, as we come close to the 2019 elections, we want them to participate and by participating means taking part of the conversation either offline or online, going out to vote and asking the right questions.”
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The event held at the Millennium Park, had hundreds of young Nigerians in attendance which was creatively loaded with dances, drama, poetry, comedy and mimes.
There was also a mind-blowing interactive session where attendees shared their experiences in the society, especially as it relates with politics.
Meanwhile, a new initiative, DOS support group, arrow headed by a group of young professionals have been designed to seek the democratization of campaign funding while ensuring a level playing field for all candidates irrespective of party lines and ideological leanings ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Legit.ng gathered that the initiative is an online structure that would transparently seek to attract retail campaign funding from the massive potential donor community online and then direct the funds towards credible aspirants vying for political offices.
According to the promoters, these funds would go to all aspirants no matter the party lines of ideological affiliation depending on the choice of the donor or contributor.
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