Pressure group are interest groups which work to secure certain interest by influencing public policy.
They are not affiliated to any political party. Yet they are a powerful group who influence decisions that affect the society.
In Nigeria, there are hundreds of pressure groups who add their voice daily to public discourse and put pressure on government to advance their own interests.
Many of them are unknown to common man on the streets of Nigeria, but some of them are household names.
NAIJ.com lists 7 most influential pressure groups in Nigeria.
1. Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)
The ACF is unarguably the most influential group in Northern Nigeria. The group was established protect the interest of Northern Nigeria and promote healthy co-existence that will sustain the environmental quality, livability, and economic vibrancy of the whole region. Even though the group prides itself as a pressure group that strengthens democracy and brings the North together, criticisms have always trailed their policies and stand. Many say the ACF only advances the interests of the core Hausa/Fulani states leaving behind the other Northern states who are do not have the Hausa/Fulani as their majority.
2. Ohanaeze Ndigbo
The group was created in 1976 to unify Igbos under a common umbrella body especially after the Nigerian Civil War. The group was planned to serve as a clearing house in matters affecting the interest and general welfare of the Igbos in Nigeria and the rest of the world. The group also has a youth and women wing. Although they have at different times veered of their mandate and gotten their own fair share of criticisms, the group is still generally seen and respected as the voice of the Igbos. The group has had the support and endorsement of prominent Igbo personalities like Dr Michael Okpara, Dr Pius Okigbo and Chief Kingsley Mbadiwe.
The Afenifere is a socio-cultural organization formed to advance the interest of the Yoruba people in Nigeria. Many Yorubas regard Afenifere as a legitimate group keen to serve their best interests as well as maintain the waning influences of the Yorubas in national discourse. Many also consider the group as a necessary body to preserve their identities and culture as Yorubas. In 2008, Afenifere split into two as younger elements within the group disagreed with the succession process after the death of Pa Abraham Adesanya. They went on to form their own group called ‘Afenifere Renewal Group’ which has in a way weakened the influence of the group.
4. The Middle Belt Forum (MBF)
The MBF was created as a result of the stifling of middle belt states by the Hausa/Fulani dominated ACF. The forum is an umbrella body for over 250 ethnic groups in the region who are generally seen as minority groups. The group is an off-shoot of defunct formidable groups that represented the region in the past like United Middle Belt Congress led by Joseph Tarka. In March 2005, leaders of the forum called for a restructuring of the zonal set-up in Nigeria from the present six zones to eight. The call was made as a result of the group willingness to stamp its feet in Nigeria and free itself from the domination of the core north.
5. Ijaw Youth Council (IYC)
The IYC is the most active pressure group in the South South region of Nigeria. The group has stayed above board since its formation and has not allowed government influence to derail them from their core values. The group prides itself as a civil right organization formed to advance the interests of the Ijaw ethnic group of the Niger Delta. From 2001 to 2004, it was headed by Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, until Asari split from the movement to found the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force. In 1998, the group made a bold move at the All-Ijaw Youths Conference which held in the town of Kaima, demanding for self-government and resource control for the Ijaw people.
6. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
CAN is an association of Christian churches in Nigeria with distinct identities, recognizable church structures and system of worship. The mission of the association is to meet regularly and take joint action on vital matters, especially on those issues which affect the Christian faith and the welfare of the generality of Nigerians. The group is widely respected and regarded as the highest Christian body of Nigeria. Five denominations of churches are represented in the association. CAN has been led at different times by respected clergymen like Prelate S. Mbang of the Methodist church and Primate J.P Akinola of the Anglican Church.
7. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)
The council was established to cater for; preserve, protect, promote and advance the interests of Islam and the Muslims throughout Nigeria. The council also serves as a channel of contact with government authorities on issues pertaining Islamic affairs. The NSCIA also makes efforts to promote Islamic solidarity and cooperation among Muslims in Nigeria and other parts of the world. The council is very influential and active in the public space. They also promote the continued application of Shari’ah in Nigeria and the observance of Islamic morality. The council is currently led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.