SPACES FOR CHANGE (S4C) Volume Two I May – June 2012 I Nigeria I West Africa 2
This is the E-Newsletter of Spaces for Youth Development and Social Change Website: www.spacesforchange.org
From the executive desk
In this edition: -
Demolishing Foundations of Peace
Abuja Forced Evictions: „Refugees in Our Homeland‟
Linking Research Information with Action
Dana Airlines Crash: Empowering Survivors to Engage
Protecting DevelopmentAffected Communities through Litigation
Experts Launch Inquiry into the Eko Atlantic City Project
Towards Greater Youth Participation in the Electoral Process
Murder at Dawn
Ministry of Housing - One Year Scorecard
more complicated. Across the northern states, buildings where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other ● ● ● dangerous weapons were found are demolished following violent True to our promise, we military raids. Consequently, the concluded our documentation of Boko Haram terror campaign these security-linked demolitions provides a ready-made excuse for and released the report, both urban planners and security “Demolishing Foundations of agents to forcibly evict the poor, Peace” on June 12, 2012. and demolish their homes with impunity, in the name of security. Follow-up campaigns and
The last two months have been incredibly loaded with travels, meetings, and documentation of housing rights violations across the country. Forced evictions and displacements often perpetrated by state actors are engagement with city planning spreading across Nigerian authorities, security agencies and True to our promise, we concluded cities like a wild fire. From affected communities (ravaged by our documentation of these Abuja, the down nation’s the Boko Haram insurgency) are security-linked demolitions and capital to Lagos, to Port yielding important results and released the report, “Demolishing Harcourt, deep agony and impacting positively on the peaceFoundations of Peace” on June 12, livelihood losses trail the keeping interventions. 2012. Follow-up campaigns and incessant demolitions and engagement with city planning forced displacement of Spaces for Change authorities, security agencies and predominantly poor families the affected communities are and communities. It seems as ● ● ● yielding important results and though the state governors in impacting positively on the peaceNigeria are engaged in an unkeeping interventions. refereed competition, with each working assiduously to outdo others in Weekly blog posts, daily tweets, hourly Facebook the scale and frequency of house community postings and several other web-based debates demolitions. and online discussions involving over 1,500 members of the S4C network across the globe continued to provide a Not only that, it is also commonplace for no-holds-barred platform for discussing and analyzing governments, often colluding with private the underlying legal and human rights issues associated actors, to trample upon the housing rights with forced evictions in particular, and development of citizens under the guise of development. planning in general. We also ensured that our Policing Critical dialogue among stakeholders and the Policy (PtP) quarterly policy briefing papers reflection by communities affected by emerging from these online conversations reached development initiatives such as the Eko relevant policymakers and critical stakeholders. Atlantic City project and the ChadCameroon Oil Pipeline and the West To cut the long story short, we invite you to read through Africa Gas Pipelines (WAGP) helped local the following pages and share your feedback with us. actors and advocates to understand and analyze laws and policies relevant to these projects, and how they can be used to Happy Reading! bolster participation, transparency and accountability in the projects’ design and implementation stages. Demolition exercises occurring in the crisistorn northern part of the country are much
Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri Executive Director
Demolishing Foundations of Peace
S4C's executive director at the launch of the study report, held in Lagos
After four months of dedicated situation monitoring, rigorous collation and analysis of data gathered from 6 states in northern Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram terror attacks, Spaces for Change (S4C) released its study findings, DEMOLISHING FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE, at a book launch held in Lagos on June 12, 2012. The study critically examined the effectiveness of using house demolitions as a counter-terrorism strategy in Northern Nigeria. It also profiled the specific impacts of the counter-terrorism and deterrence strategies employed by Nigeria‟s security forces on vulnerable groups such as women, children and the youth. Beginning from June 2011 when a suicide bomber rammed into the Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, Nigeria‟s capital city, and detonated an explosive device that killed and injured several persons, the country‟s security crisis assumed a frighteningly alarming dimension, as what began as sectarian crises in the north eastern part of the country gradually mutated into full-blown terrorist activities. Ever since, no day passes without news of shootings, bomb blasts, kidnappings, gun battles and violent confrontations between Nigeria‟s security forces and members of the dreaded Islamist insurgency group, popularly known as Boko Haram, resulting in enormous loss of lives and properties, internal displacements and massive human rights violations. Founded by late Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, the terrorist sect is working to overthrow Nigeria‟s secular and constitutional order and replace it with an Islamic regime. A counter-terrorism unit, named the Joint Task Force (JTF) and the Special Task Force (STF) –
comprising the Nigerian Army, Air force, Navy, Police, Immigrations, Customs, State Security Service, and the Defense Intelligence Agency - were constituted to take over security management and help restore order in the Boko Haram violence-ridden states. The security outfits were empowered to make arrests without proof, and conduct searches without warrants, including demolishing homes on security grounds. Demolishing and burning houses, private residences and properties suspected to be owned or occupied by members of extremist groups is a popular counter-terror strategy adopted by the JTF and STF in response to the mounting security challenges. Across the northern states of Borno, Kano, Plateau and Yobe where terrorist attacks have snowballed into catastrophic proportions, buildings where improvised explosive devises (IEDs) and other dangerous weapons were allegedly found have been demolished following violent military raids. The study established that mere suspicion of harboring the sect members have consistently been used to justify arson on private residences, properties and businesses of citizens. IEDs recovered from terrorists These types of demolitions are generally, extremely violent, bloody, unplanned and carried out with utmost disregard for the due process of law and the human rights of the occupiers of such buildings. They are usually preceded by gun battles - lasting for hours between militant groups and Nigeria‟s security operatives. They happen very instantaneously, without prior warning and often during the night, giving the inhabitants little or no time to evacuate their properties. No particular procedure is followed to determine the actual owners of the buildings or to establish the complicity of such house owners in terrorist activities. S4C‟s deep concern and condemnation for this military approach is premised on the finding that these demolitions are in most cases, unrelated to the activities of the house owners and occupants. Quite often, the
demolitions are hinged on the erroneous belief that the demolished houses either belong to the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, or to individuals and communities supportive of the attacks, whether by planning it, or providing some sort of assistance to the terrorists. Families who lose their homes to punitive demolitions are not given the right to rebuild their homes even after an error of the demolishing act has been established. Importantly, there is no evidence showing that house demolitions effectively deter terrorist groups. Instead, evidence shows that the counter-terror demolitions increase local population‟s support for terrorist groups, while fuelling hatred and animosity towards security forces. S4C‟s regular feedback from, and interactions with residents of Maiduguri communities that have been the locale of fiery security invasions reveal that the greater the force employed by the JTF in the areas designated as military targets, the greater the sympathy affected communities have for the Boko Haram sect, to
Private shops allegedly burnt by JTF soldiers following a bomb blast within the locality
the extent that majority of locals are hesitant, or unwilling, to provide information to security operatives about the hideouts and activities of the sect members. Consequently, absolute mistrust, suspicion, and fear characterize the relationship between the security operatives and the civilian populations in the volatile states, undermining intelligence undertakings that would lead to the definite identification and extirpation of the sect‟s members and activities. Another disturbing finding is that both the terror campaigns and counter-terrorism actions have provided
justification for the criminalization of the youth populations living in the slums of the volatile communities and states, while encouraging the continued exclusion of the youth in local governance and public-decision-making. Not only have the youths comprised the highest number of both military and civilian fatalities, the attendant crippling of social and economic activities have drastically limited their access to education, and totally destroyed their sources of livelihood. Clearly more and more, discussions are gradually moving away from addressing the root causes of the crises, including the trigger factors that draw the youth into criminal and extremist activities, but rather, political emphasis has been placed on lesser important matters that play no roles in facilitating peace-building and conflict resolution as manifested by the latest calls for increased revenue allocation to northern states. Generally speaking, security officials perceive human rights as obstacles to effective intelligence, police and military action, resulting in the current procedures to fight terrorism in a “war” mentality. While taking cognizance of the importance of adopting stringent security measures where necessary, the continued retention of the demolition strategy has greater potentials to inflict harm on communities, particularly where the aim is to either punish local inhabitants for “harboring” the sect members, or to deter other communities from doing so. Reacting to the report, John Ogunlela, a member of S4C‟s network noted that majority of the citizenry, including security operatives “are thinking more in terms of vengeance, exterminations and genocide, not solutions. In irregular warfare, the most important factor for success is winning the friendship of the local population among whom you prosecute a bloody, surgical military operation against embedded guerillas. This is hard for organized armies operating without concealment and employing heavy weaponry due to the weight of collateral damage that must be incurred. This side to the debate is new to the society and unfortunately to those directly affected; they are voiceless and distant. So, it is an inescapable tightrope the government must walk”. Aligning with above view, we further take the view that for every home demolished, the foundations of peace are further threatened. While acknowledging the bravery and commitment of the Nigerian security forces
toward containing the mounting insecurity and fundamentalism witnessed in the northern part of the country, concrete steps must be taken to integrate respect for human rights into their engagement strategies, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts.
Abuja Forced Homeland”
Recent demolitions carried out by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and security agencies without adequate consultation with communities, and without providing adequate notice, compensation, or adequate resettlement, have affected homes, schools, clinics, churches, mosques, and businesses. From Gosa 1 village to Iddo, Kpaduma, Gishiri, Bassa Jiwa, to Galadimawa, the homes of both indigenes and non-indigenes have been demolished leaving thousands without shelter and sources of livelihood.
During its May 3-5, 2012 fact-finding mission to document the renewed forced evictions in Abuja, Nigeria‟s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Spaces for Change (S4C) visited Gosa 1 village located along the Airport Road, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where thousands were forcibly evicted and their homes demolished on Thursday, April 26, 2012 on the orders of the FCDA. The demolition of over 100 ancestral homes, businesses, churches, mosques, schools, farmlands, crops, shrines and important cultural relics belonging to indigenous Gbagyi farmers and low-
income families were carried out without adequate prior notice, without adequate consultation with affected persons, without payment of compensation or provision of alternate shelter, rendering several families homeless including children, the youth, women and the aged. Majority of the locals had gone to farm or workplaces only to return to meet their homes completely flattened. The Gosa natives‟ occupation of the land predates the FCT. As Mama Hauwa Abdulahi, 78, said in Hausa language, (who was seen sleeping in the open with two of her grand-children), "I was born and raised in this community. I feel so much pained that I am now a refugee in my homeland". The demolition squad also ignored the legal action pending before the Federal High Court in Lugbe instituted by the indigenes to enforce their human rights. The demolition squad comprising heavily armed soldiers of the Nigerian Army and officers of the Nigerian Police Force claimed that the Federal Government has earmarked the demolished areas for the construction of a military barracks. A signpost mounted on the cleared site warned indigenes to keep off from the land. Only a primary school built by the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) was spared, which now serves as temporary shelter for some of the evicted families. Ten days after the demolitions, scores of families were seen sleeping in the open, near the ruins of their demolished homes because "they have nowhere else to go", and cannot afford the soaring rental costs in the city. Some of the evictees have faced multiple evictions. A local resident, Yomi Emmanuel, 32, taxi driver narrated how his home was demolished in Gosa in April 2012, forcing him to move into his brother‟s house in Iddo, also along Airport Road. Some weeks later, his brother‟s house was again demolished, rendering him and his family of three homeless. He now “lives” in his car, and sleeps wherever he finds parking space at night. Some other evictees, especially the children and youth populations were disproportionately affected by the evictions. Miss Onyeka Ani, 24, hairstylist was among those living in the open despite her pregnant state. “This is the third
time our home will be demolished”, she told Spaces for Change. The soldiers used extreme force in carrying out the demolitions. Some local youth who protested against the demolitions were tear-gassed, arrested and detained, until the village head, Chief Micah Wakili and the local government chairman, Honourable H. Micah intervened, and secured their release. In the neighbouring Iddo Sariki village, also along the Federal Capital Territory, S4C counted about 48 demolished houses, comprising mainly of bungalows and high-density tenant dwellings. The demolitions started on Thursday, May 3, 2012, and the 2 (two) bulldozers stationed at the Iddo Police Station signaled that the demolitions were still continuing in the following week. Heaps of properties belonging to evicted families were stacked in almost every corner of the community. As with other demolished locations across the city, no offers of relocation had been made, neither is there any projection of compensation in sight. Displaced families have been largely fragmented with many of them forced to send their families to their respective states. In an effort to recoup their investments on the buildings, and to raise transportation costs for moving to new locations, evictees were seen auctioning roofing sheets, window blinds, protectors, upholstery chairs, bed springs, iron gates and so forth, forcing a booming trade in building materials in and around the area. In all the locations visited, we provided evictees with on-the-spot legal counseling, compiled documentary and material evidence, and then followed up with meetings with the city planning authorities. A
campaign for resettlement and compensation pursuant to FCT‟s resettlement and relocation policies was also launched. In addition to working together with the Gosa 1 community‟s legal representative, Barrister Panya Baba to resolve some of the underlying legal issues and court action arising from the demolitions and forced evictions, S4C petitioned the National Human Rights Commission; the House of Representative‟s Committees on Human Rights; Housing and Habitat to urgently launch an investigation into the circumstances of the demolitions, and accompanying human rights violations perpetrated by state agents and armed security forces. Follow up engagement and meetings with top FCDA officials also emphasized the urgency for state actors to respect the evictees‟ right to seek legal redress in national courts, and to provide them with relief in the form of alternative housing and/or fair compensation. S4C‟s May 5, 2012 press statement regarding the Abuja demolitions helped increase media attention and reportage of the evictees‟ plight, and the underlying legal and human rights infractions. We are deeply concerned that the demolitions have left evictees vulnerable to other rights violations – such as violence, theft and rape, while obstructing women, children and the youth‟s access to education, water, sanitation facilities and health care facilities. Legally binding housing rights commitments voluntarily made by the Nigerian Government and encoded in wideranging treaties and Covenants, should not be reneged upon, or else the its obligation to protect, respect and fulfill them will be seriously undermined.
Linking Research Information with Action At a high-level dialogue with the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe and the agencyâ€&#x;s senior management team on June 28, 2012, Spaces for Change (S4C) presented the report of its research study, Demolishing Foundations of Peace, and the documentation of the forced evictions related to security and urban planning, occurring in the north and other parts of the country. Having moved from state to state, documenting the root causes, scale and the impact of forced evictions and the resulting displacement, on women, children, the youth and other vulnerable groups, we believe that these appalling events call for resolute remedial action, and a coordinated public condemnation by both the national and international human rights community. Among other issues discussed at the meeting, S4C urged the NHRC to take concrete and immediate steps towards promoting alternatives to forced evictions, especially through the development of a domestic legislative framework which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats on rental (public and private) accommodation, cooperative housing, lease, owner-occupation, emergency housing and informal settlements. We also advocated for an impartial review and redirection of the operational methods, processes and procedures of the Joint Task Force/Special Task Force to be in tune with the democratic environment and attributes of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights. Linking information and action in an efficient way, the meeting yielded a commitment to immediately have the report forwarded to the Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and the Nigerian Security Adviser, Colonel Dasuki Sambo, in order to draw their attention to the human rights atrocities unearthed in the report. Not only that, the meeting yielded a further
commitment by the Commission to inaugurate a threeparty committee, involving Spaces for Change, the NHRC and the office of the NSA; to independently investigate the circumstances in which those atrocities occurred, and proffer policy and program interventions that could be used in re-defining priority security actions. Recognizing that taking action to remedy the reported abuses is a matter of sustained effort and contribution from those within and outside the affected communities, the report was disseminated to national and international human rights and development agencies working to operationalize remedial action for forced evictions. Interactive and social media tools were deployed to amplify the research outcomes, and expand the reach of the study findings. Considerable media mentions, news reportage and repeated online shares and retweets of the report by citizens and public figures, including a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El Rufai all combined to stimulate public interest, discussions and dialogues on the studyâ€&#x;s key findings, and the need for urgent action. Spaces for Change welcomes the bold steps adopted by Professor Angwe-led NHRC in this situation and considers this wise decision-making to have contributed in no small part to the noticeable relaxation of punitive house demolition as a counter-terror strategy by security forces operating in Northern Nigeria. This action has also opened up the space for regular communication and engagement between S4C and security leaders. The relative peace of mind and accompanying shelter protection that the crisis-torn families and communities now enjoy is mainly attributable to these urgent measures.
Dana Airlines Crash: Empowering Survivors to Engage On Friday, June 8, 2012, Spaces for Change (S4C) visited the site of the DANA Airlines plane crash at Iju, outskirts of Lagos to commiserate with the survivors and displaced families; to provide free legal counseling and advisory support; document the impact of the crash on their lives and livelihoods, and work together with them to develop a legal strategy for demanding compensation and resettlement.
the right to propose alternatives to any of the arrangements made for them. S4C‟s executive director, Victoria Ohaeri also met with top Members of Dana Airlines’ management of management team DANA Airlines, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) and officials of the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), to independently ascertain the cause of the crash, the emergency procedures and the post-crash compensation policy, and trauma mitigation provisions for both the survivors and the representatives of the deceased families.
Protecting Development-Affected Communities through Litigation Survivors of the Dana crash
The DANA Airlines aircraft crashed into a block of six flats, 2 rooms boys quarters, and a printing press on June 3, 2012. Survivors comprised mainly of the residents of the apartments crushed by the weight of the aircraft and the ensuing explosion. None of the 163 passengers aboard the Dana aircraft survived. S4C had extensive discussions with survivors and provided them free on-the-spot legal counseling and advisory services. They learned about their rights as displaced persons, especially the rights to receive compensation and resettlement, and the national and international legal regimes that guarantee those rights. In addition, S4C clarified the specific obligations of both the government and the DANA Airline towards them, including the obligations to provide them with full information regarding the crash investigations and insurance policies; opportunities for participation in the design and implementation of the benefit schemes; and
On May 24, 2012, Spaces for Change‟s (S4C‟s) executive director, Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri delivered the lead paper at a workshop exposing the worsening climatic conditions and negative impacts of the World Bank-financed Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline and the West Africa Gas Pipelines (WAGP) projects. The workshop, organized by Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Togo, Ghana in partnership with Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) brought together Friends of the Earth‟s senior legal officers and researchers from Togo, Ghana, Nigeria; representatives of projectaffected communities from Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria; civil society leaders, concerned environmentalists and the media to explore strategies for assisting projectaffected countries and communities to assert and defend their economic, social and cultural rights. Her paper, “Protecting Communities Affected by WBfinanced Initiatives through Litigation” developed an advocacy and litigation strategy for engaging the World Bank and its investors whose handling of the project has caused arbitrary land takings, heritage losses, biodiversity, pollution, outbreak of communicable
diseases, high unemployment rates, mass eviction, food insecurity, and loss of livelihoods. Litigation is considered as a major response to the gross social and economic rights violations exposed in the FoEI‟s recent report, Broken Promises: Gender Impacts of the World Bank-Financed WestAfrican and ChadCameroon Pipelines. Jointly owned by Exxon/Mobil, Petronas Malaysia and Chevron, the 6.7- billion-dollar, 650-mile pipeline, which carries crude from the oilfields of land-locked Chad to a shipping facility off Cameroon's coast, was made possible by World Bank loans amounting to 337.6 million dollars. FoEI‟s research shows how the projects have undermined the rights and livelihoods of entire communities, and placed disproportionate burden on women, young girls, children and the youth. The authors chided the Bank and its investors for “pandering to the patriarchal tendencies of certain communities where their projects – especially resourceextraction projects – are implemented”. Outlining a variety of legal advocacy and litigation strategies that may be employed to demand corporate accountability and remedial action for the projectaffected communities and countries, Ms. Ohaeri educated participants on the national, regional and international legal frameworks and foundations, including the specific provisions that govern such complex initiatives. She further explained how the accountability mechanisms work, with emphasis on the African Human Rights Systems and institutional grievance platforms at the World Bank Independent Inspection Panel. Participants learned about the procedures for engaging those mechanisms, the respective roles of stakeholders and the necessary steps for the launch of an effective litigation campaign: beginning from the identification and selection of plaintiffs, the framing of the issues using the human rights paradigm; the selection of forum; compilation of
legal evidence, seeking technical and research support and amicus curiae interventions, including the effective use of friendly settlement procedures. From that discussion about applicable standards, mechanisms, and procedures, she highlighted the different challenges both communities and their legal representatives may face in a high-profile litigation of this nature, using her experiences gained from nearly a decade of direct involvement and engagement in several complex development initiatives involving oil multinationals, Chinese Consortiums, state and federal governments in Nigeria and Africa. As part of its broader efforts to build support for human rights-centered responses to the prevalence of development-based displacements and the accompanying social and economic rights deprivations, S4C will continue to interrogate the rhetoric and empty promises such as “employment generation, infrastructural development and fair compensation” of multi-billion dollar investments in Africa, which the WAGP project represents.
Experts Launch Inquiry into the Eko Atlantic City Project Experts drawn from diverse backgrounds: oceanography, environmental management, housing rights, urban development, architecture and town planning, law and economics gathered at a forum in Lagos on May 30, 2012, to discuss and voice their concerns regarding the likely impacts of the Eko Atlantic City project on coastal areas and indigenous communities living within the proximity of the project. The meeting, organized by Heinrich Boll Foundation, was necessitated by the growing concerns that ongoing massive dredging, sea defencing and land reclamation works will increase the vulnerability of low-lying communities such as Victoria Island to accelerated sea level rise impacts, beach erosion and excessive flooding. Spaces for Change‟s (S4C‟s) executive director, Victoria Ohaeri was among the expert discussants at the meeting. Experts decried the lack of transparency, participation and community inclusion in the project, evidenced in
large part by the Lagos State Government‟s compliance with state and federal legislations governing the execution of projects of such magnitude. For instance, the Lagos State government failed to conduct the statutory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and publicly display the EIA report prior to the commencement of the project, as required under the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, 1992 (Decree No. 86 of 1992). An EIA was only conducted and submitted three years after the commencement of dredging activities. It was also established that communities that are likely to be affected by the project – such as Okun Alfa, Alpha Beach, Goshen Estate etc were not consulted nor their opinions, perspectives, and experiences sought and reflected in the project‟s conception, design and implementation stages. These communities are currently threatened by coastal erosion and displacement.
S4C‟s director‟s presentation at the event harped on a variety of engagement strategies that the experts may employ to monitor the project, ensure compliance with applicable state, federal and international regulations; and as well demand accountability from the Lagos State government. Sharing the community engagement experiences gained from her direct participation in an array of complex development projects, she drew a comparative analysis between the Eko Atlantic City project and other similar initiatives such as the Lekki Free Trade Zone Project, the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline and the West Africa Gas Pipelines (WAGP) projects, the River State Greater City Development project, clarifying how some specific legislative initiatives such as the Freedom of Information Act and coordinated community action may be deployed to increase protection of human rights and community health, land takings , heritage losses, biodiversity, pollution, loss of traditional livelihoods and so forth. “An entry point to the proposed expert engagement on this issue is by undertaking an assessment of the baseline social and environmental conditions, including a consideration of feasible environmentally and socially preferable alternatives‟, she advised. Experts left the venue with a set of mutually-agreed action plans, and ideas for moving the campaign for environmental protection, community inclusion and public participation forward.
Towards Greater Youth Participation in the Electoral Process
One of the experts, Professor Ako Amadi, executive director of Community Conservation and Development Initiatives, CCDI, who had sighted the Project‟s EIA noted that serious erosion is happening along the coastal areas identified as vulnerable in the draft final EIA. “The affected areas have to be protected immediately; at the same time, a consensus is needed to find alternative solutions to the proposed hard coastal structures”.
"Towards 2015: Increasing Youth Participation in the Electoral Process" is the title of the presentation delivered by Spaces for Change at the Election Situation Room, hosted by Policy Advocacy and Legislative Advocacy Group (PLAC), in Abuja, Nigeria on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Nigeria Election Situation Room is the Platform of Civil Society Organizations working on election observation. Civil society leaders, media representatives, community representatives and top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were present at the event.
Involvement in the democratic process among young people in Nigeria has been poor and has prompted much discussion as to how young people can be actively encouraged to both register for and vote during elections. Evidence shows that the youth constitute the majority of Nigeria‟s population. For instance, Nigeria has over 160million people and 90% of the population is below 65 years. Youth comprise over 50 per cent of the entire voters registered by INEC, making their direct participation critical to the success of any election conducted in Nigeria. S4C‟s presentation compared the youth voting trends in the Nigerian, American, Canadian and United Kingdom elections, showing the factors responsible for both noticeable declines and improvements as the case may be. During the 2011 elections, Spaces for Change capitalized on the accessibility of the social media to promote civic participation, especially of young people in democratic governance, while reinforcing the philosophy of youth engagement in critical issues bordering on peace and security, economic governance, housing, urban development and environmental justice. Drawing useful lessons learned from its observations
much less know about how to effectively influence them; Absence of formal structures of learning, skills and knowledge transfer between old and new voices in election monitoring and citizen engagement; Ignorance or lack of knowledge about the electoral process and how to participate; High costs associated with the electoral/political process Results do not reflect votes cast; and Increasing post-electoral violence, do-or-die politics, including the employment of youths as political thugs and willing tools for perpetration of all kinds of electoral illegalities. Despite the downsides of the electo-phobia syndrome, some best important lessons drawn from other democracies such as the United States and Canada could be adapted to suit local contest, toward reversing that trend. By way of illustration, after each American election, detailed
and documentation of the Victoria Ohaeri (SPACES FOR CHANGE), Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, voting pattern 2011 elections, the Clement Nwankwo (Policy and Legislative Advocacy Center) Ezenwa analyses are presentation clarified what it E. (Partnership for Credible Elections) conducted to described as electo-phobia determine the syndrome among Nigeria participation rate by youths caused by the following factors: age group, and each age group is surveyed periodically. In 2007, Elections Canada provided assistance to the Canadian Policy Research Networks for in-depth studies on youth electoral participation, and that Youth view electoral issues as highly research information informed the direction, focus and complex subjects, disconnected or irrelevant content of youth voter education in the ensuing or „too removed‟ to their current lives and elections. In Canada, voter registration and polling problems. stations were set up on campuses to make it easier for Youth faced barriers to engagement with young people to vote. In Honduras, Bolivia, Austria, political processes, and had no platforms for Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Switzerland among effectively engaging political leaders. others, voting is compulsory for all citizens above the Many young people did not know who their age of 18. political representatives/contestants were,
Apart from useful lessons from other climes, the emergence of new spaces, new voices and modern technologies, including the social media and other high speed information dissemination techniques, present opportunities for increasing and sustaining youth engagement and participation in elections in particular, and governance in general. Alleviating apathy with more education about politics, political issues, electoral process and good governance is also very critical. Introduction of citizenship education in secondary schools/universities should also be considered. Global events such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street protests and the Occupy Nigeria-fuel subsidy protests are clear attestations that the youth can no longer be ignored, and kept away from important decision-making arenas. Are Nigerian youths sufficiently inspired from these events and ready to take up this challenge in 2015? Only time will tell.
Murder at Dawn On May 22, 2012, Spaces for Change (S4C) attended court in Lagos to represent Mrs. Elizabeth Farimade in a murder case: Adeola Agborin Vs. Commissioner of Police. In this case, Mrs. Farimade's (the complainant's) 34 year old daughter, Martha Farimade was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, Adeola Agborin on January 6, 2012. The death certificate and autopsy revealed that the deceased died of asphyxia and fracture-dislocation of the cervical vertebrae. Mrs. Elizabeth Farimade approached S4C for legal aid on March 4, 2012. The boyfriend of the deceased wrongfully suspected that she was seeing someone else. After killing her on the night of January 6, 2012, he put her in a wheel barrow, covered her up with refuse, and then dumped her body at a gutter beside her house in the early hours of the morning.
Adeola Agborin has been remanded in prison custody following the confessional statements he made at Panti Police Station in Lagos. On March 5, 2012, S4C visited the bereaved family, the crime scene and the Panti Police station to get a fuller grasp of the issues surrounding the murder. S4C represented the family at court hearings on March 22, and May 22, 2012 at the Yaba Magistrate Court in Lagos, and continues to follow up with the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure an early issuance of the Legal Advice in the matter.
The Ministry of Housing’s Scorecard under Honourable Ms. Ama Pepple: One Year After In commemoration of the National Democracy Day and the first anniversary of President Goodluck Jonathan‟s one year in office, held on May 15, 2012, the ministers of Police Affairs, Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade and the Land, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple gave the scorecard of their respective ministries during the period under review. Spaces for Change‟s (S4C‟s) executive director, Victoria Ohaeri joined a wide spectrum of Nigerians who gathered to listen to the presentations by the two ministers: discussing and clarifying their common goals and disparate experiences, acknowledging the obstacles to the successful implementation of programs and policies, even as they began sought public opinion on how to shape realistic strategies for overcoming them. Although the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is still young, one year is enough to report on progress being made, says Labaran Maku, Information Minister in his opening remarks. From that note of progress, Navy Capt. Olubolade narrated the variety of initiatives introduced to improve performance and service delivery in the Police Affairs Ministry despite the overwhelming security challenges which now includes terrorism. Prior to the Ministerial Press Briefing, S4C had submitted its Policing the Policy (PtP) Policy briefing Paper, titled Upscaling Low-Cost Housing Development in Nigeria to the Housing Minister and the Federal
Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (FMLHUB), in solidarity with the Ministry‟s strategic objectives of upscaling government-assisted housing development. The policy paper advocates that the FMLHUB‟s target of delivering one million units of mass housing, annually, must not only respond to the growing demand for shelter but, also, that such an ambitious objective is realizable and deliverable, if the
homegrown building methods that increase housing availability and affordability, as well as facilitate job creation and economic growth.
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array of local resources and low-cost technologies within the country are maximally explored and utilized. We proceed upon the premise that the notion of supply actors need to be broadened to leverage individual and collective responsibility for meeting the housing demand and the need to mobilize and enable new actors to perform these roles. The propositions contained in the brief were informed by a robust online debate and discussions among a broad spectrum of young Nigerian professionals on the Spaces for Change‟s (S4C‟s) discussion forum on the social media. The debate drew contributions from a diverse group of Nigerians across four continents including North America, Asia, Africa and Europe. It offered key recommendations and alternate options for meeting FMLHUB‟s one million housing units target, with the hope that it would propel the adoption and institutionalization of new technologies and
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About Spaces for Change (S4C) Established in May 2011, Spaces for Change (S4C) is a non-profit, human rights organization working to infuse human rights into social and economic decision-making processes and platforms in Nigeria. Using the human rights framework and youth-centered strategies, the organization creates spaces for the often-excluded young voices, marginalized groups and communities to become active participants in public decision making, and strong advocates of social and economic justice.
Published on Sep 4, 2012
This e-newsletter provides important updates of Spaces for Change's work around its four thematic areas: oil and power sector reforms; housi...