On 29 May 1999, Nigeria crossed an important milestone when it made the transition to civilian democratic government after many years of brutal military dictatorship.
There have since been four successive elections in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. But paradoxically, the longest period of unbroken democratic government has also coincided with upheavals and insurgencies in many parts of the country.
Having recently emerged from its worst recession in 25 years, Nigeria’s macroeconomic indicators are much improved on account of the fact that it is a major exporter of crude oil and natural gas. However, 60% of its total national population is still classified as poor.
The reality is that with a fast-growing population, governments at all levels have always struggled to satisfy the basic economic and social needs of citizens.
The 1999 Constitution’s guarantees of the freedoms of association and expression have undoubtedly helped to catalyze the rapid expansion and deepening of Nigeria’s civil society.
What is also evident is that parallel to the rise of civil society and beyond the traditional forms of giving from family, faith-based organizations and informal self-help groups, there has been a discernible trend towards the formalization or corporatization of philanthropy structures.
The result is the growth and expanding influence in national development of private and corporate foundations, charitable companies and corporatized charitable trusts.
Founders, donors, governments and beneficiaries will now have to ensure that these various philanthropic bodies are effective and efficient with reference to their governance, administration and programmes.