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The effective implementation of WACSI's interventions is dependent on civil society's contributions and feedback on the Institute's work in promoting an open, safe and prosperous West Africa. WACSI's interventions are guided and inspired by the critical voices from key stakeholders and engagement by different communities and groups across West Africa. At WACSI, we are conscious that civic space affects everything civil society does and everything civil society does affects civic space. A safe, open, free and enabling space for all to form and voice opinions, debate, be heard and peacefully protest, is also an essential prerequisite for achieving the ECOWAS Vision 2020. Civic freedoms including the freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, safe environments and effective participation are therefore essential. This Op-Ed critically assesses the civic space environment in 2019, predictions for 2020 and issues that need more introspection and collective action.
Over the last two decades, technology tools available for civil society actors in Africa have tremendously evolved. Journalists and activists relied mostly on print media to call out dictators and authoritarian regimes. To avoid being incarcerated, they hid their identities or never stayed in one location. Today, they use digital technologies to mask their identities and digital footprints, and communicate in real-time with informants and reporters using technologically advanced tools . To keep pace with the world and be effective in the work that they do, such media and civil society actors have had to embrace new and emerging technologies to facilitate their work.
Drug use in general is a topic that rarely features in Nigeria media outlets. The focus has mostly been on arrests and seizures of drugs by law enforcement agencies to show how well the government is doing in terms of fighting the "war on drugs". Aside specific global campaigns such as the Support Don't Punish Global Day of Action (26 June) , very few programmes and documentaries report and discuss drug use from a public health perspective. Even though the non-medical use of codeine has been occurring for the past decades in the country, it has rarely been discussed as much as now. The coverage helped to reveal how codeine-based products are smuggled out of pharmaceutical companies.
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