Being excerpts from the recently concluded National Conference:
RECOMMENDATIONS ON CIVIL SOCIETY ISSUES
1. The Public Order Act and Remand Law: In order to enhance the work of civil
society and to enable it perform its mandate to the people and enthrone a truly
democratic and just society, the Conference decided to recommend the REPEAL of
2. Regulation of Civil Society and its Organizations: The establishment of a selfregulatory
Commission is recommended to be peopled by civil society activists and which shall be free from undue state’s interference that will regulate the conduct and activities of civil society organizations in Nigeria. The Commission shall be known as “Civil Society Regulatory Commission (CSRC)”. Its functions shall be to:-
(a) Register Non-government organizations in Nigeria.
(b) Sanction CSOs that abuse the ethics or rules of the Commission.
(c) Propose Grants on behalf of Non-government organizations to the National Assembly and make them available for the CSO’s access to do their work to the society.
3. Justiceability of Socio-Economic Rights: The merger of Chapters Two and Four of the 1999 Constitution while causing them to be executable or justiceable under our law as it is the practice in other civilized societies of the world.
4. The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which we have domesticated is incorporated into our Constitution.
5. Appropriate Grants for Civil Society Accessibility: That statutory funds to be known as “Civil Society Grants/Fund” be annually appropriated by the National Assembly for civil society activities to strengthen them to perform their watchdog roles, act as checks against impunity by state actors and to enthrone an open, just and accountable society. The Fund/Grant shall be managed by the CSRC.
6. Weak Institutions
a) We recommend the strengthening of the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC), the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Anti-
Corruption Agencies and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to help them judiciously discharge their functions by being independent in appointment, operations and funding; and
b) That Judicial officers convicted or found guilty of corruption and perversion of justice be liable to 50 years imprisonment and loss of all official entitlements including gratuities and pensions and all ill-gotten gains without an option of fine. We note that what revived the Asian nations were the enactment of such strong laws that frowned at corruption, abuse of due process and the rule of law in their countries.
7. Social Security for the Unemployed, Disabled, Aged and Children
1. A National Jobs Creation Agency be established through the merger of the
National Directorate for Employment (NDE), the Small and Medium
Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), the YOUWIN Department, the Community Services, Women and Youth Employment Project (CSWYE) and graduate Internship scheme SURE-P. This will lead to a coordinated job creation approach;
2. The agency will receive and review applications against a set of criteria and eligibility factors. The funding will be allocated on a competitive basis;
3. The agency’s activities will be governed by three committees: Advisory, Investment and Technical Evaluation Committees.
a. The Advisory Committee will be responsible for providing advice on the job creation strategy to the government;
b. The Investment Committee will have fiduciary responsibility for the approval of funding applications. The Investment Committee is independent of the management of the agency; and
c. The Technical Evaluation Committee is responsible for technical assessment of proposals and recommendations to the Investment Committee.
8. Popular Participation and Inclusiveness: To encourage popular or people’s active participation in government and achieve optimal reduction in corruption, the policy of Participatory Budgeting to cause the citizens to participate in deciding how they are governed, including choosing projects they want in the Appropriation Laws and the contractors who will execute these projects be entrenched in our Constitution.
9. Minorities’ Rights and their Fears: In order to build a just, free, stable, equitable, peaceful and strong nation, it is recommended that all the executive and strategic positions in all the tiers of government rotate among all the Zones or States or ethnic nations making up Nigeria; Senatorial Districts or Local governments making up a State, or wards making up a local government. This shall ensure that all parties are equitably and justly treated.
10. Funding of Education: In order to revive our educational sector and build a strong nation, we propose 30% allocation for Education in Annual Appropriation Laws of our Government at all the tiers: from federal to local government.
11. The Plight of Nigerians in Foreign Lands: In order to adequately cater for the welfare and security of these Nigerians in foreign lands, Conference decided to recommend the setting up of a National Commission on Nigerians in Diaspora to take care of the issues affecting this category of the population.
12. Abuse of Women’s Rights and Rape: That a law shall be enacted to provide for life imprisonment with hard labour for any person convicted of rape and sodomy, and death penalty for the rape of a minor.
13. Creating An Enabling Space for Civil Society and its Operations: To do this Conference decided to recommend the enactment of a Civil Society Consultation Act (CSCA) which will amongst other things:
a) Formalize some level of civic power around the three tiers of government in Nigeria;
b) Smoothen the loose ends between citizen rights to participate in governance and actual participation itself;
c) Make it mandatory for government to put in place structures and programs for consulting and dialoguing with citizen organizations;
d) Define the level of civil society representation and participation in public regulatory bodies;
e) Provide in clear terms, the way in which government must involve civil society in drawing up the budget and implementing it;
f) Provide for Annual General Assembly between government and civil society or Annual National Conference between civil society and government;
g) Provide for Town Hall Meetings between Civil Society and Chairmen of Local Councils; and
h) Provide for periodic evaluation of both official and unofficial spaces of citizen participation in governance. This will be with a view of reinforcing both models and getting the best out of them.
ISSUES RELATING TO LABOUR
1. Unemployment: To tackle the challenge of unemployment, Conference decided that:
a) A Labour and Employment Exchange or Job Centres should be established in major cities throughout the Federation;
b) It should be mandatory for all employers of labour to provide First Aid Corridors in their workplaces;
c) Revival and development of domestic industries through:
i) Enactment of fundamental policies to provide incentives to and protect domestic industries;
ii) Promotion of added value to local raw materials;
iii) Fixing of the power sector to enable industries thrive; and
iv) Encouragement and protection of farmers to produce raw materials for industry. This can be done through guaranteed markets for agricultural produce.
d) Skills Acquisition Development:
(i) There should be an overhaul of existing skills acquisition programmes to make them more functional and effective through the revival of Vocational and Technical Education/schools;
(ii) The ITF should be strengthened to provide effective linkage between Educational Institutions and Industries. Adequate financial support should be made to the ITF to support the establishment of Skill acquisition centres across the country; and (iii) There should be funding of skills acquisition projects through revolving loans for take-off.
e) Disability and Unemployment
i. 15 percent of employment places in public and private sectors of the economy should be reserved for persons with disabilities and ensure that they are given work that matches their qualifications;
ii. ILO Convention No. 159 should be ratified and implemented by developing a National Policy on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities to ensure entry to the
labour market; and
iii. Reasonable accommodation should be provided in work places according to Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which Nigeria had signed and ratified.
f) Casualization of Labour: All multi-national companies and government agencies that have employed casual workers for more than six months should be mandated to take immediate steps to convert the same to permanent employment.
2. Precarious Work and Vulnerable Workers
a) Regulations guaranteeing casual workers permanent employment after working for six months, irrespective of the number of contracts making up the period should be enacted.
b) Policies and laws which extend labour and social protection to domestic workers should be put in place urgently. Such laws should regulate working hours, pay, maternity protection and other conditions of work.
c) It shall be mandatory for all employers of domestic workers, who are between ages 18-25 to ensure they acquire Secondary education or vocational training;
d) The National Child Rights Act should be strengthened and made applicable even where states have not domesticated the Act; and
e) There is the need to revive and strengthen the Labour Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Labour.
6 Minimum Wage
a) The National Minimum Wage, as currently provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 should remain on the Exclusive Legislative List; and
b) All stakeholders, including state governments should avail themselves of the tripartite framework for determining the minimum wage to ensure ownership and acceptability.