Advocacy as an instrument of agitation has been employed in years past by the Nigerians to demand from their leaders.
From the past; the 1962 Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact protest, 1993 election annulment protest to the ‘bring back our girls’ protest of recent time, Nigeria has witnessed series of advocacies and agitations which has stirred the course of the nation’s ship towards development.
However, the exercise many times tend to degenerate into aggressiveness. More so, the methods used in the past seem not to be working again. What is the way forward?
In a bid to fashion out effective advocacy strategies and tactics of the 21stcentury, people of like minds recently gathered at the Blue Western Hotel Ikeja Lagos for the project ‘the 2.0 Mindset Series.’
Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 2.0 mindset was set out with the aim of strengthening civil society’s ability to influence the development and implementation of key democratic reforms through sharing of skills and experience of successful practitioners to strengthen the capacity of partners and the general public.
Five Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in the area of advocacy were selected to share experiences and recommend how to go about the business in the new era and realities.
The panelists were carefully selected to reflect the supply side (government) and the demand (people).
First was Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria who posited that it is high time activists’ eschewed violence.
“First, we need to turn our arrogance of knowledge into useful information so that the people will be aware and fight for themselves. Also as advocates, we should fortify ourselves with education, avoid agitating for selfish reasons and always endeavor to step into the shadow as long as the right thing is happening in the light,” he advised.
Speaking from his activism and political experience, Hon. Segun Olulade, a member of the Lagos state House of Assembly said that a lot of people are involved in aggressive agitation and call it advocacy.
“Advocacy is fundamental to national development, but when it is done with aggressiveness, you may not get the needed result.”
“Many protesters will come to the state house; they talk, they sing, dance and even abuse the government and when you ask for their petition, they have none, many are just there not knowing what they came to do.”
Hon. Olulade stated that the Lagos state government ensures a public hearing before passage of bills and this makes it easier to relate with civil societies and the people.
In corroboration, Mrs. Ayo Obe, a legal practitioner and human rights activist and Hon. Adunni Akindele, the Executive Secretary, Mosan Okunola Local Council Development Area, Alimosho noted that protests are no longer glamorous.
Hon. Adunni emphasized that every protest should have a positive cause and carry along the people.
Sharing the experience of what she has learnt in advocacy over the years, Ngozi Iwere, the Executive Director of Community Life Project (CLP) noted that technology is a driving force in advocacy.
“Clarity, impact, platforms, partnership and the use of technology are veritable tools for modern day advocacy.
“In the last election, we trained people of the grassroots on how to monitor election and they were the first to call the attention of INEC to deficiencies. We need to set realistic goals and create a platform for the people to be involved”
Earlier, the Chief of party, USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement programme, Charles Abani said that the 2.0 mindset is a follow-up on the 1.0 which focused more on skill acquisition and raising competence of partner organisations.