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Church and Civil Society in 21st Century Africa

Potentialities and Challenges Regarding Socio-Economic and Political Development with Particular Reference to Nigeria

Sylvester Uche Ugwu

In view of the unprecedented level of socioeconomic and political underdevelopment plaguing the African continent, there remains one key area in the polity with great potentials which remains largely untapped: civil society. What can it contribute to the alleviation of the burden of underdevelopment in Africa? What is the place of the Church in civil society, particularly in Nigeria? Can there be a sustainable cooperation between the Church and other civic groups in the country for the purpose of development? Using mainly literature-based methods, this work seeks to dig into the understanding of civil society from the ancient Aristotelian «polis» to its 21st century African idea. It discusses the place of the Church in relation to the social question. Some of the vital areas of the Church’s civil societal involvement ad intra and with other civil groups are examined, using the Caritas’ structural principle of approach. Some major challenges hindering the vital input of the two institutions towards sustainable socioeconomic and political development are x-rayed. It extensively exposes the immense potentials for development through the cooperation between the two institutions. Conversely, some enormous challenges facing civil societal cooperation for development are discussed. Finally, research goes on to put forward some vital insights, ideas and suggestions for the fruitful cooperation towards the realization of the potentials for national development.

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A work of this nature cannot be completed without the input and assistance academic, financial and material as well as the moral support of a host of dear ones, teachers and benefactors.

In the first place, I am grateful to the almighty and merciful God – who sent His only Son Jesus Christ, the Word made man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, to dwell in human society – for giving me the life and energy to bring this work to an end.

I thank my former local ordinary, Most Rev. Dr. F. E. O. Okobo (Rtd), and my present bishop, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey I. Onah, for giving me the permission to go for further studies as well as for allowing me to finish them.

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