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Fake Civil Society: The Rise of Pro-Government NGOs in Nigeria

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Summary

The Carnegie Endowment is grateful to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office for research funding that helped make the writing of this paper possible. The views contained herein are those of the author alone.

Nigeria’s dynamic and expansive civil society is one of its greatest strengths and is crucial to maintaining what democratic space still exists in the country. Yet its independence, outspokenness, and unwavering commitment to democracy, transparency, and human rights have long antagonized the kleptocratic, power-hungry—but also image-conscious—ruling elites. To help protect themselves from domestic pressure and outside scrutiny, Nigeria’s top powerbrokers have cultivated a new generation of pro-government non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Like the fake grassroots groups bankrolled by past military juntas, these surrogate organizations masquerade as authentic civil society groups, singing the praises of top…

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