The State, Market and Citizens’ Sector in Post-Transition Societies: Towards an Inclusive Framework of Governance in Nigeria

Abdulhamid Ozohu-Suleiman, Ph.D.


The crisis of governance being experienced by states in the continent of Africa since the fourth quarter of the last century has provoked widespread debates on good governance and its requirements. These debates revolve around the premises of welfarism aimed at evaluating the capacity of the state to deliver existential requirements of citizens. The point at issues is that the most significant ends of good governance are citizens and their quality of life. Thus, in connecting government with the society as a whole (to secure this mandate), scholarly preoccupation has been on the changing tripartite relationship among the state, market and the citizens’ sector. This paper seeks to interrogate this relationship in Nigeria in terms of what has been achieved and the prospects for improved quality of governance, bearing in mind the constraints imposed by certain tendencies in the democratization process. It argues that the post-transition impact of civil society (broadly referred to as citizens’ sector), which constitutes a significant part of the environment in which the state operates has not received sufficient scholarly attention in states of Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper observes that the triumph of market economy and the concomitant shrinking of the state have significantly altered the institutional landscape of governance for the citizens’ sector to deepen its engagement with a trimmed government. In other words, outside the formal institutions of the state and market, the citizens’ sector has a crucial role to play in the good governance project. In states like Nigeria, liberal political conditions have provided the needed impetus for this inclusive framework of governance to flourish. It acknowledges that though, civil society (operating under a variety of organizations) has established its visibility in the political space, none-the-less, proactive and sustainable engagement with the state on policy issues is required to effectively drive the good governance project. Be that as it may, this paper recommends among others that the legal framework in respect of this tripartite relationship should be strengthened for optimal results, and that in (specific terms), in order to deepen the collaboration between the state and the citizens’ sector, the National Assembly should make law to provide a legal framework aimed at institutionalizing the Office of the Senior Special Assistance to the Presidents on Civil Society. This institutionalization will cascade into the role of civil society in the citizen engagement process.

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