Etta Michael Bisong
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has condemned the incessant and stereotyping speeches used by politicians and their candidates to campaign ahead of the 2015 general elections in the country.
This, according to the over 85 civil society coalition, has the capacity to increase fears about the elections and digress attention from the actual problems facing Nigerians.
Executive Director of the Policy and Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo, while rising alarm on the issue yesterday during a stakeholders meeting on Advocacy for Issue-Based Campaigning, said it is important as civil society group to condemn this practice in political campaigns, as well as redefine the course of discussion to include development issues.
Nwankwo observed the many challenges bedeviling the country such as poverty, inequality and other related issues, which in his view is what should form the core of political campaigns.
Nigeria, he argued, has huge both human and natural resources to contribute to the growth of the nation, and urged political parties and their candidates to focus on how to harness these potentials for the benefit of the citizens.
Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, in his presentation dubbed – Economic Development & the Economy, challenged the concept of economic growth, which he said does not reflect in the actual livelihoods of Nigerians.
Dr. Abdu, who gave statistics of some of these problems, revealed that unemployment has increased from 8% in 1999 to 24% in 2014, with 50% of the figure representing youth spread across the country.
Other issues in his view that Nigerians should worry about and engage politicians include – unemployment; poverty and inequality, crisis of the oil sector; corruption, resource drain, public debt; budge implementation, taxation and cost of governance.
While agriculture decreased from 33.1% to 22% in 1999, he said, crude oil and gas suffered more falls from 37% to 15.8%.
He urged Nigerians to raise these issues and find-tune measures on how to engage politicians to respond on how they intend to address them if voted into office.
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) was setup in 2010 ahead of the April 2011 general elections with a broad coalition of civil society groups, for information sharing and resources, anticipating problems during elections and responding rapidly when they occur.
Borne out of the need to not only address problems and challenges in the electoral process, the Situation Room has evolved into a platform of a broad range of civil society groups that engage the socio-political process in Nigeria by initiating action for the resolution of identified and publicised challenges.