Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Founder and Director of Research and Policy at Spaces for Change (S4C), has blamed the ugly global trend of shrinking civic space to governments’ thirst for power.
According to her, the ceaseless attacks on the media by the ruling class were attempts to silence dissenting views and consolidate their hold on power. She said the country had experienced three types of civic space contractions from closed to open, and now repressed.
“We are drifting towards repression. The spaces appear to be opened, but when you take steps to challenge constituted authority, you are likely to run into trouble,” she said.
She added that the various moves through the duplicated laws and amendments were targeted at increasing governmental powers to control the media spaces, which is the most important tool to propagate, express, and disseminate ideas to many people simultaneously. She opined countries around the world are drifting towards authoritarianism that operationally represses opposition.
“Check the closing spaces database. You will see that the highest numbers of incidents are attacks on press freedom,” she noted.
Ibezim-Ohaeri criticised the dangerous national security and national interest mantra used by successive governments as the most popular rhetoric to justify the crackdown on civic space as captured in section 45 of the 1999 Constitution that allows maximum force with limited scrutiny.
She advised that Nigerians must match their online energy with offline action and activate available mechanisms to demand action and protect the civic space.