The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah has said that the civil societies play a great role in widening democracy.
He stated this on Thursday when he appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily where he threw his weight behind the Non-Governmental Organisation’s bill.
Although the controversial bill has passed the second reading before the National Assembly, it has however come under heavy criticisms in some quarters.
One of such groups is the Amnesty International which called on all Nigerians to oppose its passage by the lawmakers as it seeks to “take away the freedoms of Nigerian people.”
In reaction, Bishop Kukah explained that America’s democracy was being driven by associational life and that Nigerian politicians are obsessed with deepening democracy rather than widening it.
“We should be talking about widening democracy (in Nigeria). No other institution exists so far to operationalize this than civil society,” he said.
The cleric further explained that the Berlin wall of Germany collapsed without a single gunshot because the civil societies were the driving forces and that America and the Soviet Union spent billions of dollars building up arsenals.
He added, “In 1989, the Berlin wall collapsed, it was as a result. The war had spent 50 years dealing with the whole questions of what options were best. Is it communism, is it liberal democracy?
“Communism collapsed in 1989 because civil society groups were the driving forces and it is an irony that America and the Soviet Union that spend billions of dollars building up arsenals that this system collapsed without a single gunshot.”
The cleric also hinted that his presence at NASS on Wednesday became imperative because he needed to throw his weight behind the civil societies who are the drivers of democracy.
If passed into law by the federal lawmakers, it will give birth to the NGO Regulatory Commission to regulate activities of NGO’s and civil society organisations, CSOs, across Nigeria.
The hearing had in attendance Civil society organisations, religious leaders among others.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara was represented by the chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Honourable Babangida Ibrahim.