Non-governmental organization and Policy-Making in Nigeria Essay
Policy making is an important step in the actualization of any vision, whether it be embarked upon by the government or a private institution. All over the world, there has being an increasing level of input from NGOs into policy making in nations. NGOs are legally constituted organisations whose influence has become indispensable to society.
The paper seeks to highlights the role these organisations play in policy making in Nigeria. Relevant literature has been extensively consulted and reviewed to assess their relevance and level of participation in the formulation of public policy in the country.Introduction In the past, people saw popular participation as exclusively voting or exercise of civic right at elections. However this view of participation is no longer acceptable, because people want to make demands on the polity in their role as interest or pressure groups; and they want to take direct charge of their own destiny. One way popular participation has had impact on policy is the way people are able to take part in activities in their neighbourhoods and in community governance.
How neighbourhood decision-making is able to have impact on the bye-laws or edicts of local and State Governments.How elected officials are made to become sensitive or responsive to the needs and demands of the people. How they consult their people on all critical issues before they vote or formulate policies. This yearning to be a part of governance has led to the proliferation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Indeed the rising popularity of NGOs is based on the premise that the people in power alone cannot satisfactorily provide the quality of leadership the people desire, without the direct input of those concerned.In Nigeria, there is a need to periodically assess the level to which this desire of NGOs has been actualised in the vital sector of policy making.
Definition of Terms Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO): the World Bank defines NGOs as organisations that include many groups and institutions that are entirely or largely independent of government and that have primarily humanitarian or cooperative rather than commercial objectives. Policy: According to the Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary, a policy is a ‘plan of action, statement of ideas, etc proposed or adopted by a government, political party, business etc.Policy-making: This can be described as the act of formulating a plan of action or a statement of ideas seeking the actualization of a specific goal. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) The Growth of NGOs A striking upsurge is under way around the globe in organizing voluntary activity and the creation of private, nonprofit or non-governmental organizations.
People are forming associations, foundations and similar institutions to deliver human services, promote grassroots economic development, prevent environmental degradation, protect civil rights and pursue a thousand other objectives formerly unattended or left by the state.The scope and scale of this phenomenon is immense. Salamon (1994), argues that pressures to expand the voluntary sector seem to be coming from at least three different sources: from “below” in the form of spontaneous grassroots energies; from the “outside” through the actions of various public and private institutions; and from “above” in the form of governmental policies. There have been a variety of outside pressures: from the church, Western private voluntary organizations and official aid agencies.Emphasis has shifted from their traditional humanitarian relief to a new focus on “empowerment.
” Official aid agencies have supplemented and, to a considerable degree, subsidized these private initiatives. Since the mid-1960s, foreign assistance programs have placed increasing emphasis on involving the Third World poor in development activities. In the last one and a half decade, development actors have adopted “participatory development” as its strategy.Finally, pressures to form nonprofit organizations have come from above, from official governmental policy circles.
Most visibly, the conservative governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher made support for the voluntary sector a central part of their strategies to reduce government social spending. In the Third World, including Nigeria, and former Soviet block, such governmental pressures have also figured. From Thailand to the Philippines, governments have sponsored farmers cooperatives and other private organizations.Egyptian and Pakistani five-year plans have stressed the participation of nongovernmental organizations as a way to ensure popular participation in development.
In Nigeria, at the local levels, for instance, community based organisations and development associations who have good experience in community governance and “internal democracy” and also have a lot of experience to bring to local government. They can assist local governments in the setting of development priorities and projects.At this level, participatory methodologies can and should be adopted to bring peoples’ voices to bear in the decision-making process. Policy-Making There are many different models to explain the policy process, but one of the oldest and most common approaches to the study of policy-making derives from the early work of Lasswell, (1951).
This American political scientist was the first to have taken into account and analyzed policy as a process, that is, as a set of phenomena organized in time and led by a number of specific and self-induced mechanisms.The model that he helped build is usually known as the stages model of policy, since it separates policy-making into its component steps, or stages, and analyses each in turn. The original version of the model included seven stages, though more recent versions have reduced the process to fewer steps, varying between four and six. Broadly speaking, such stages include:•The identification of policy problems or issues, through demands for action; •Agenda-setting, or focusing on specific problems/issues (this stage is sometimes merged with the previous one); •The formulation of olicy proposals, their initiation and development, by policy-planning organisations, interest groups, and/or the executive or legislative branches of government; •The adoption of and rendering legitimate of policies through the political actions of government, interest groups, political parties; •The implementation of policies through bureaucracies, public expenditures, and the activities of executive agencies; and, •The evaluation of a policy’s implementation and impact.
It has been said that the stages model gives the illusion that policy-makers arrive at a decision through a rational and systematic approach to problem-solving: defining the problem, analyzing alternative solutions, adopting a solution, and testing and evaluating that solution. But policy-making only rarely follows this pattern. A vast number of players are usually involved in the policy process, and this tends to result in a process in which decisions are made collectively, often after resolving conflicting interests by bargaining.