In a bid to advance advocacy programmes aimed at empowering citizens and institutions in Nigeria in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders, two civil society organisations, Citizens Media and Development Network (CIMEDEN) and CLEEN Foundation came together to form partnership for the development of the Nigerian society, writes SAMUEL ODAUDU.
THE JOB of developing the society is multidimensional. From the public sector institutions, officials, private sector players, the citizens and the civil society organisations, it requires synergy of purpose, strength, focus, determination and courage among relevant stakeholders in order to make it work. It is even better if the collective efforts are on sustainable basis. That was what played out on Friday, June 23, 2017, between two civil society organisations, Citizens Media and Development Network (CIMEDEN) along with their volunteer media partners and CLEEN Foundation when the former paid an advocacy visit to the later in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. In a bid to mutually promote and enhance efficiency of their respective civil society advocacy programmes, CIMEDEN) and CLEEN Foundation have agreed to work together so as to promote their respective developmental advocacy programmes in the media and other public awareness platforms. In his opening remark earlier at the occasion held in the Conference Room of CLEEN Foundation’s office, Abuja, the Director of Inst. Services/Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation, Mr. Peter Maduoma, formally introduced the Foundation and it’s advocacy programmes to the visitors. He said “On behalf of our Director, Dr. Benson Chinedu Olugbo, who is unavoidably absent because of a commitment elsewhere,
I welcome you to CLEEN Foundation. He extends his goodwill to this occasion. “CLEEN Foundation focuses mainly on public safety, justice sector reform and related concerns. We work with security agencies, especially the police. Our target is to empower relevant institutions and Nigerian citizens through seminars, workshops, conferences, media and research publications about law enforcements, human rights, gender mainstreaming among others”, he said. Mr. Maduoma expressed his appreciation to CIMEDEN’s director and his team for demonstrating good knowledge and awareness of advocacy programmes of CLEEN Foundation adding that he envisaged a “fruitful partnership” between the two civil society organizations (CSOs). He added that CSOs need to form a synergy for the purpose of achieving their targets of contributing to the building of a better society. He thus welcomed any purposeful partnership between CLEEN Foundation and other like-minded civil society organisations like CIMEDEN because according to him, the job of developing our society is a huge task that necessitates all hands to be on desk. He also noted that the role of the media in social advocacy programmes was key because in his view, the media is the mouthpiece of any society and so it must be carried along. Publicity and mass awareness of civil society organisations’ programmes, he said, “are definitely important aspect of our work and so we should take it with all seriousness that the media must be integrated into advocacy programmes”. In his response, CIMEDEN team and its media partners was led by its director, Mr. O. Samuel and Alh. Ibrahim Biu, a member of CIMEDEN’s Board, paid an advocacy visit to the Abuja office of CLEEN Foundation on June 23, 2017. Mr. Samuel told the hosts that CIMEDEN has interest in the activities of the Foundation and sought for “technical partnership and collaboration” with it, especially in projects that are of interest to the two organisations. CLEEN Foundation’s partition was particularly sought on CIMEDEN’s special platform called Nigeria Conversation Forum (NCF) where critical issues relating to public policies on public safety, security, electoral rights and security, etc, will feature prominently. He expressed willingness and readiness of CIMEDEN to use it’s wide media reach to promote advocacy programmes of the Foundation if invited to participate. Mr. Samuel equally explained the core thematic focuses of CIMEDEN: (1) Social Development: This relates to public sector policies on economy, citizens’ rights, security and interest on essential social services with a view to examining their impacts on citizens or their failures; need for institutions and policy makers to engage citizens or intended beneficiaries of public policies in policy-making process. (2) Community Services deal with empowerment and enlightenment support system for the rural communities, especially in the areas of public schools – basic and secondary -, healthcare, education, water and sanitation. (3) Media Advocacy whose concern is mobilizing and using the media to expose weaknesses in any of the sectors above for the purposes of drawing attention to policy makers and relevant authorities in order to motivate them into taking appropriate action. (4) Research: This project is designed to produce creative ideas on developmental challenges through constructive engagements with scholars and intellectuals, critical analyses of issues that affect societies and recommend appropriate solutions to them. This is usually achieved through seminars, fora, conferences, publications, among others. According to him, coming from the media background, CIMEDEN and himself have been following the activities of CLEEN Foundation for years and duly acknowledge the immense positive contributions to democratic, security, justice system and social developments in Nigeria. Ruth E. Olofin, Program Manager of CLEEN Foundation, Abuja office, agreed with Mr. Maduoma, saying that the discussion of the day has helped them at the Foundation to know that there is a need to do a lot more in media publicity of their advocacy programmes. She is also optimistic that working in collaboration with CIMEDEN, a platform that is well rooted in the media sector, would give CLEEN Foundation the needed media publicity boost. This position was well emphasised by other members on the roundtable discussion, especially Ibrahim Muhammed, CIMEDEN’s Head of Media and Information and Oluwole Ojewale, CLEEN Foundation’s Senior Program Officer, as well as a media partner of CIMEDEN, Mr. Victor Onu. The meeting agreed that there should be a sustainable communication between the two organizations with a view to, if possible, draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on specific areas and term of partnership. Reflecting on the outcome of the meeting, Alhaji Ibrahim Biu, a respectable elder, veteran newspaper editor and former deputy director in the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), while encouraging the two organisations to work together towards achieving positive results in their activities emphasised the need for greater impacts of advocacy programmes in the public and social sectors. Addressing CIMEDEN’s leadership at the end of the meeting, he called for enhanced media strategy to give voice to the activities of civil society organisations in the country. “It is important that the role of the media in advocacy activities should be properly underscored if CSOs want to see the effects of their hard work in the society. If you are advocating for improved police-citizens relationship and your programme stops inside boardrooms or conference halls, what have you achieved? “There is therefore the need to not only involve the media, the people, the citizens, public players, as well as relevant institutions and stakeholders who are supposed to benefit from our projects should all be fully involved. This is one of the best ways to maximize the constructive engagements in public discourse”, said Alhaji Biu.