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Civil society organizations and democratic consolidation in Nigeria's fourth republic: an appraisal of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)

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The transition from military autocracy to democracy in Nigeria came after a tortuous, brave and determined struggle. Civil society organizations engaged in agitations and protests that led to the eventual withdrawal of the military from governance in Nigeria. However, after more than a decade and a half year of democratic experience, the rising hope among Nigerians is gradually fading away, giving way to apprehension and despondency. Whereas civil society is ubiquitous in academic and political discourse, labour unions are far less popular as subjects of analysis. It is in this context that this thesis examined critically the role of civil society organisation (with a special focus on Nigeria Labour Congress) in the democratic consolidation process in Nigeria’s fourth Republic. The study adopted the qualitative approach and group theory as the theoretical framework. The data for this research work was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were collected through interviews with relevant stakeholders on labour and democratic issues. A total of twenty-eight (28) respondents were interviewed using interview schedule. The secondary data for the study were derived from books, journal articles, magazines and newspaper articles, reliable and verifiable internet materials. While primary data obtained were analysed using the combination of both the manual qualitative method and the Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS), the existing data used were subjected to substantive and extensive analysis through the instrumentality of content validity, content analysis and textual criticism. The study noted that Nigeria Labour Congress (as a member of civil society organizations) played significant roles in the transition from military autocracy to electoral democracy. The study also noted that while the aftermath of the transition had attracted some concerted efforts from organized labour geared towards democratic consolidation, the momentum of the struggle, as well as the vibrancy of labour unions in Nigeria, is not satisfactory. The findings of this study are largely base on fieldwork which is a significant departure from desk analysis that has defined most works on the phenomenon. In order to enhance the effectiveness of organized labour in Nigeria, the study recommended that: first, the issue of centralized trade unionism should be constitutionally restored; second, the government should restrain itself from interfering in matters that are strictly internal to the unions and lastly, the leaders should not be partisan in politicking.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.