Civil society groups are critical stakeholders in the Nigerian electoral
process. Civil society groups in Nigeria got their first taste of organized
electoral participation in 1998-99. During the 1999 elections, the Transition
Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of civil society groups working to
promote democracy and good governance in Nigeria coordinated the activities
of many civil society groups that participated in the elections. By 2003 the
scope and quality of participation by civil society organizations extended
significantly: four large civil society groups the Labour Election Monitoring
Team; the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations of Nigeria
(FOMWAN), the Muslim League for Accountability (MULLAC); and the
Justice, Development and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church (JDPC)
joined TMG in election observation. Also, a number of smaller women’s groups
and conflict mitigation networks participated. Apart from observing elections,
Nigerian civil society was also involved extensively in civic education with
support from donor agencies; notably the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID), the UK Department for International
Development (DfID) and the European Union (EU). This admittedly reflects
the newly emerging trend in development assistance which sees political party
reform as a major area requiring systematic intervention.
By 2007, not much improvement was recorded in the area of civil society
engagement with issue of political financing. Today, however, there exists a
network of civil society groups and other stakeholders -the Political Finance
Monitoring Group (PFMG). Members of this network meet periodically to
discuss methods for developing solutions to problems of political finance. The
expansion of groups involved in this network and its consolidation is desirable.
It will measure the ability of the Nigerian civil society to watch over the
electoral process, accounting for the influence of money in politics.

In a nation-wide survey on the perceptions of Nigerians regarding
corruption and governance conducted in 2001 by a consortium of experts from
Nigerian universities, over 80% of the sampled population regarded corruption
as “serious.” Respondents also ranked political parties among the most corrupt
institutions in the country.1 The details of the findings from the survey listed the
30 top most corrupt institutions in Nigeria with the police as number one. In
ranking government agencies and parastatals according to their levels of
involvement in corrupt practices, the first and second most corrupt government
agencies in Nigeria are the police and the National Electric Power Authority
(NEPA) (now Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN), respectively. The
third, fourth, fifth and sixth most corrupt institutions of government are political
parties, the executive arm of federal, state and local governments, members of
the national and state assemblies and the court. The Customs and Exercise
Department, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) offices of the
Accountant-General at federal and state levels and Water Boards are also
among the top ten corrupt governmental agencies.