There’s this book written by Chimamanda Adichie, she explained how she always hated been regarded as inferior because she was a girl. In the book, she told a story from her days in grade school; Her teacher gave them a short test and told them that whoever scored the highest would become the class monitor. Chimamanda eventually had the highest score but the teacher didn’t give her the position because she was a girl. You can imagine how devastating that would be for an excited little girl.
A lot of people in our beloved country suffer from ignorance while some are just apathetic towards exercising their civic and human rights.
Many times, we hear stories of how people are prosecuted or killed by their family members because they chose to change their religious beliefs. In some cultures, people are killed for disobeying flimsy laws. This is inhumane and I’m pretty sure you think so too but sadly, many people live in this bondage.
In Nigeria, election periods were like holidays to many families. They just stay indoors and watched the electoral process from their homes, most parents never participate. They never discuss anything about voting or elections, and as children, we dared not raise such a topic at home. Sometime in high school, when we discuss topics that relate to the rights and obligations of a citizen and even Civic Education teachers would blatantly admit that in their entire lives, they’re have never voted for once. Most of them claim that whoever ‘they’ wanted to win would always win, so they don’t want to waste her time, energy, and resources on a lost course -‘they’ means the government and political godfathers. And you would agree that things aren’t supposed to be so but it seems to be a norm in society.
As time goes on, you’d discover that so many people have this mentality of passively exercising their rights. Many citizens believe that no matter what they do, Nigeria can not experience change. They believe that bad governance will always be a part and parcel of Nigeria. Sadly, most people also believe that governmental positions belong to a particular set of people.
What Nigeria needs is a wake-up call, something to remind us of our civic rights, something to take the ignorant out of their darkness into light. This is why Nucleus Africa has created a program called CIVICS. This program is aimed at educating Nigerian citizens on their human and civic rights.
Imagine if the EndSars protesters were oblivious of their rights. If they had chickened out and remained silent, the government wouldn’t have taken necessary action and many others would have fallen victims to police brutality. This shows that the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.
CIVICS program is not just another program that involves seminars and pep talks, but it is aimed at empowering citizens with knowledge of their civic and human rights to enhance the quality of governance.
One major problem I’ve noticed that Nigerians -human beings generally- have is that we enjoy blaming others for our shortcomings. In Nigeria, citizens tend to blame the government for every single drawback in the country. Truth be told the government has their share of the blame but do you know that public participation on the part of citizens can go a long way in national development. If citizens learn to exercise their franchise, participate in peaceful protests, and most importantly if they know their rights, it would be very difficult for any government to oppress the populace.
This is another reason why CIVICS was created. We believe that citizens have a role to play in social development and in enhancing the quality of governance. But this can only be achieved if citizens are empowered with knowledge of their civic, human, and democratic rights. Our vision is to inspire development by public participatory governance.
There’s a reason why Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It’s because, in a democratic government, every citizen is expected to actively participate in government activities.
CIVICS is a program aimed at helping us build a Nigeria of our dreams. I believe that Nigeria would be a better place if citizens are not just aware of their rights but if they also actively practiced them.