The Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oluseyi Oyebisi, has appealed for the inclusion of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the COVID-19 decision-making framework.
According to a statement signed by Oyebisi, there has been an increase in demand for services delivered by non-profits organisations across the country, adding that findings show that the pandemic has offered fewer promising signs of improvement in relationships and collaboration between civil society and authorities.
He also stated that CSOs have been at the core of providing support to the vulnerable as Nigeria responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"From providing food palliatives, financial support, information, and awareness-raising, access to health care services through to being involved in the debate and advocacy around vaccine rollout, civil society organisations have been at the core of providing support to the vulnerable as Nigeria responds to the COVID-19 pandemic," he noted.
According to him, after a difficult year, the urgency of the pandemic ought to have seen more engagement between CSOs and government in working more closely to respond to immediate challenges, "we see across communities however this is not the case."
He further stated that ahead of the work being done by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and the May 10 phased restriction of movement, CSOs more than before need to be included in the framework for decision-making.
He remarked that it was important that there are clear criteria to guide decisions on whether to maintain, tighten or relax the lockdown one which must be guided by evidence through citizens participation--crowdsourcing ideas, comments, "and recommendation through carefully established platforms for engaging citizens and citizen organisations in the decision-making process for keeping the virus away from creating further harm."
He posited that they have taken steps to contain the virus are unprecedented and have changed life as those efforts are centered around the principles of human dignity, autonomy, respect, and equality.
According to him, "The defining factor in the country's response however is how citizens have responded to the public health advice and directives from the government.
"We have seen too great extent defiance on the part of citizens. This again calls to mind the Resolutions from the 66th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission) in August 2020 which should serve as some refresher for the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19."