The European Union (EU) has restated its commitment towards engendering and strengthening democratic governance in the country.
The EU, through its Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) funded programme, stressed that it would further deepen its engagement with young people, women, and persons with disabilities. It said these groups of people have the number and passion to positively influence and impact the socio-political space. The EU said while there were some positives and good achievements in the just concluded general elections, there were also some issues that needed to be addressed going forward.
Speaking at the end of a two-day retreat for the EU-SDGN cohort in Lagos, the European Union’s programme manager for Democracy and Rule of Law, Laolu Olawumi, explained that the retreat assessed the interventions of the cohort in the last 12 months, with a view to understand what worked and what didn’t work, identify the challenges encountered, and chart better ways to address them.
Olawumi while stating that it is important to introspect on the just concluded elections, also urged the EU-SDGN cohort not to lose sight of states like Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo who will be having elections in just over 100 days.
She said, “Over the last 12 months, we have had an intense work plan where different members of the EU-SDGN cohort have been delivering several activities and technical support to critical stakeholders that we have jointly identified.
“The retreat, therefore, sought to see whether the interventions that we have planned for the next couple of months would help us address the challenges that we have seen in the period leading to the elections, and the immediate aftermath of the election.”
She said the retreat created an opportunity for all the partners to discuss their intervention areas, the precise actions they undertook during the elections and what the cohort considers the critical issues that need to be addressed moving forward.
“In terms of what we are doing around capacity building, one thing to really highlight is the fact that the EU-SDGN programme is Nigerian-led and is mainly implemented by civil society organizations. And that in itself, is our way of contributing and building the civil society space in Nigeria.
“How do we provide a platform with which civil society can better engage with the government and build capacity to ensure that they are focusing on the issues, and they are operating within an environment that helps them properly harness the voices of ordinary Nigerians, and better serve the needs and the will of Nigerian people?
“So, that in itself for me, I think is a huge positive. But in doing this, we are engaging with all identified critical stakeholders as well. And when I say this, I mean, the government, civil society, and the public,” she added.