Policy making is an important step in the actualization of any vision, whether it be embarked upon by the government or a private institution. All over the world, there has being an increasing level of input from NGOs into policy making in nations. NGOs are legally constituted organisations whose influence has become indispensable to society. The paper seeks to highlights the role these organisations play in policy making in Nigeria. Relevant literature has been extensively consulted and reviewed to assess their relevance and level of participation in the formulation of public policy in the country.
In the past, people saw popular participation as exclusively voting or exercise of civic right at elections. However this view of participation is no longer acceptable, because people want to make demands on the polity in their role as interest or pressure groups; and they want to take direct charge of their own destiny. One way popular participation has had impact on policy is the way people are able to take part in activities in their neighbourhoods and in community governance. How neighbourhood decision-making is able to have impact on the bye-laws or edicts of local and State Governments. How elected officials are made to become sensitive or responsive to the needs and demands of the people. How they consult their people on all critical issues before they vote or formulate policies.
This yearning to be a part of governance has led to the proliferation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Indeed the rising popularity of NGOs is based on the premise that the people in power alone cannot satisfactorily provide the quality of leadership the people desire, without the direct input of those concerned.
In Nigeria, there is a need to periodically assess the level to which this desire of NGOs has been actualised in the vital sector of policy making.
Definition of Terms
Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO): the World Bank defines NGOs as organisations that include many groups and institutions that are entirely or largely independent of government and that have primarily humanitarian or cooperative rather than commercial objectives. Policy: According to the Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary, a policy is a ‘plan of action, statement of ideas, etc proposed or adopted by a government, political party, business etc.’ Policy-making: This can be described as the act of formulating a plan of action or a statement of ideas seeking the actualization of a specific goal.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
The Growth of NGOs
A striking upsurge is under way around the globe in organizing voluntary activity and the creation of private, nonprofit or non-governmental organizations. People are forming associations, foundations and similar institutions to deliver human services, promote grassroots economic development, prevent environmental degradation, protect civil rights and pursue a thousand other objectives formerly unattended or left by the state. The scope and scale of this phenomenon is immense.
Salamon (1994), argues that pressures to expand the voluntary sector seem to be coming from at least three different sources: from "below" in the form of spontaneous grassroots energies; from the "outside" through the actions of various public and private institutions; and from "above" in the form of governmental policies.
There have been a variety of outside pressures: from the church, Western private voluntary organizations and official aid agencies. Emphasis has shifted from their traditional humanitarian relief to a new focus on "empowerment." Official aid agencies have supplemented and, to a considerable degree, subsidized these private initiatives. Since the mid-1960s, foreign assistance programs have placed increasing emphasis on involving the Third World poor in development activities. In the last one and a half decade, development actors have adopted "participatory development" as its...