20 Nigerian CSOs Equipped to Reclaim the Country’s ‘Repressed’ Civic Space

20 Nigerian CSOs Equipped to Reclaim the Country’s ‘Repressed’ Civic Space

[Abuja, 4 March 2024]- “It was such an impactful and enlightening experience. From compliance to freedom of speech, we thoroughly explored critical issues relevant to our work. I am grateful to have been part of this training,” remarked Osariemen Grace Omoruyi, Founder of Restorative Justice for Africa, Nigeria.  

Omoruyi is one of the 20 civil society leaders who represented their organisations at the first in-person training for the second Nigerian cohort of the West Africa Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) held in Abuja from 26 February – 1 March 2024.  

Nigeria’s prominence in civil society contributions across West Africa was underscored by a recent study conducted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).  

Launched in November 2023, the report titled “Contribution of CSOs to the Economic, Social, and Political Development of West Africa” hailed Nigerian civil society organisations (CSOs) for their pivotal role in driving job creation, policy influencing, and poverty reduction initiatives throughout the region. 

However, despite their invaluable contributions, Nigerian civic actors face a myriad of challenges. From pressures by both state and non-state actors to unlawful attacks, and the stifling effect of draconian laws on their freedoms, the civic space in which they operate is severely restricted. The classification of Nigeria’s civic space as “Repressed” by the CIVICUS Monitor in 2023 emphasises the uphill battle confronting these actors. 

In response to these challenges, CSR-Hub has taken proactive measures to enhance the capacities of Nigerian CSOs. By empowering them to overcome restrictions imposed on both digital and physical civic spaces, CSR-Hub aims to enable these organisations to effectively pursue their mandates.   

The training thus is one of a nine-month series of capacity strengthening initiatives outlined for the 20 CSOs who constitute the second Nigerian cohort of the Hub. 

In an address to officially open the five-day training, Omolara Balogun, Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy at WACSI, stressed the urgent need for interventions to safeguard the shrinking Nigerian civic space. 

“Civic space is shrinking really fast, and there is a need for us to act now,” she noted. 

Oyebisi Babatunde, Executive Director of the Nigerian Network of NGOs (NNNGOs), who facilitated the session, emphasised the importance of regulatory compliance and implored the organisations to prioritise it. 

“Before you can criticise the actions of others, it’s important to put your house in order,” he said. 

The workshop parked a heightened interest among participants in regulatory compliance and anti-money laundering issues. 

Through case studies, practical sessions, and role plays, participants gained essential skills and strategies to navigate the challenging landscape. 

“After returning, I plan to share the valuable lessons from this training with my colleagues during our Monday meetings to ensure our organisation is fully compliant with all necessary regulations,” remarked Victor Eboh, Senior Advisor at Lawyers Alert, Nigeria. 

Ngweshie Augustine, Executive Director of the Center for Peace Advocacy and Sustainable Development Nigeria, shared his intentions upon identifying several gaps in their organisation’s regulatory compliance during the training. 

“I will immediately convene a meeting with our board members to strategise ways of addressing these gaps,” Augustine affirmed. 

Other members of the cohort who participated in the training included the IREDE Foundation, the Muslim Peace Network (MPN), YouthHubAfrica, and the Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy & Development.  

Alongside these, other notable participants included Hope Behind Bars Africa, the Novel Alliance for Development Aid (NADA), the Development Communications Network, the International Centre for Peace Charities and Human Development, and the Justice, Development, and Peace Commission in Ibadan. 

Furthermore, the cohort the Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI Nigeria), Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, the Center for Advocacy Transparency and Accountability Initiative, the ElectHER Development Initiative, and the International Press Centre in Nigeria.  

Notably, prominent entities like Media Rights Agenda, Global Rights, the World Impact Development Foundation (WIDEF) were also part of this gathering, contributing to its diversity and enriching the workshop. 

The 20 participants who represented the organisations join a larger pool of 154 others from Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria who have also received training under this initiative. 

CSR-Hub is a component of the broader Weaving Resilience programme, an $80 million initiative funded by the Ford Foundation. Developed in collaboration with partners across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Weaving Resilience seeks to fortify and interconnect CSOs and movements at the forefront of the global struggle for social justice. 

Co-implemented by WACSI and Spaces for Change, Nigeria, the Hub is a capacity building platform for CSOs pushing back restrictions to open civic space, enabling environment, civil liberties, and open society in West Africa.  


Leave your comments


Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.