Around the world a growing crisis of legitimacy characterises the relationship between citizens and the institutions that affect their lives. In both north and south, citizens speak of mounting disillusionment with government, based on concerns about corruption, lack of responsiveness to the needs of the poor and the absence of a sense of connection with elected representatives and bureaucrats. In response to this gap between citizens and their institutions, people are struggling to find new forms of citizenship, participation and accountability.
To be meaningful, arguments for participation and accountability must become grounded in a conception for rights and citizenship which, in a development context, strengthens the status of citizens from one of beneficiaries of development to its rightful and legitimate claimants. While declarations on rights and citizenship are increasingly abundant, the gap between the rhetoric and reality remains large. And, while the principles of the rights-based approach are important, there is much to be understood about what it means, both conceptually and empirically, as well as much to learn about how to put it into practice. New understanding is needed of what it means to re-cast the debates of inclusion, participation and accountability in a rights-based and citizenship-centred mould. This volume, drawn together by a multidisciplinary group of scholars associated with the Theatre for Development Centre at Ahmadu Bello University, helps us to gain such an understanding. Combining multidisciplinary analysis with insightful and creative use of theatre to gain people's own perceptions, these essays offer important insights into the struggles for inclusive citizenship, participation and accountability in the Nigerian context.