Cross section of civil society participants at the ACT launch ©


January 2020

Globally, civil society organisations (CSOs) are recognised as important non-state agents of development. They are saddled with multi-faceted responsibilities of providing social welfare, economic empowerment, humanitarian services, political participation, enabling effective democratic governance, and the rule of law. 

In Nigeria, CSOs operate under weak and complex regulations and this has hindered their effectiveness and limited their potential. 

To increase the understanding of the context in which civil society organisations operate and to better understand the challenges, the Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (ACT) Programme conducted a political economy analysis (PEA) with selected CSOs, community-based organisations, and faith-based organisations. 

Broadly, the PEA is commissioned to increase the understanding of the civil society environment, to support ACT to strengthen the capacity of CSOs to operate in an enabling environment, to be accountable to their constituents and to respect citizens’ rights and freedoms, gender and social inclusion, and improve their transparency and legitimacy.

The research approach included desk research, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Findings from the PEA are expected to inform the design and implementation of the programme support for CSOs over the next four years. 

Additional PEAs will be conducted across other states in Nigeria, including the South-East and North-Central. 

‘There is limited understanding of the complementary roles that NGOs could play with government.’ 

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Sokoto state

‘The first set of rights-defending CSOs were mainly domiciled in the South-West. After the annulment of the June 12 election, pro-democracy solidarity groups began to emerge across Nigeria.’ 

Dr Atiku Nuhu Koko, Former Executive Director, Shehu Shagari Foundation, Sokoto state