THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Nigeria have asked the National Assembly (NASS) to abandon a bill that wants to establish a commission that would regulate NGOs in the country, report says.
According to report, at a meeting with some lawmakers and government officials in Abuja on Saturday, September 23, 2017, representatives of NGOs said the bill, better known as the NGO bill, is retrogressive, repressive and unfavourable to national development.
Lawmakers claim the bill will help curb corruption among NGOs in the country. Nigerians however fear that the bill aims to clampdown on NGOs or civil society organisations (CSOs) demanding accountability from government and public officials.
The representatives of NGOs at the meeting also said the bill amounted to ‘duplication of duties’ of existing governmental agencies, such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They explained that, ‘The bill is intended to suppress the voices of CSOs engaged in social development across the country by requiring them to renew their legal identity every 24 months, considering the strategic roles of demanding accountability from government and its officials.’
They added that:
‘There is nowhere in the world where governmental regulation of NGOs has helped to deepen the operations of NGOs instead it has always muzzled their operations existence.
‘Governmental regulation of NGOs is antithetic to open democratic practices anywhere in the world as it appears that the commission will become another governmental NGO police.
‘The bill is in breach of section 39 of constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the right for freedom of association and expression.’
They advised that:
‘The bill should be stepped down and left to die, as it is retrogressive, repressive and should not be considered. We consider it unfavorable to national development and call on the National Assembly not to act on it.
‘Existing governmental regulatory institutions should be strengthened to perform the role they are already mandated to perform.
‘The National Assembly should exercise their oversight function to enable the existing governmental agencies to perform their functions.
‘The government should create a conducive environment for the operation of NGOs for effective service delivery in the interest of our teeming population.
‘We urge the government not to introduce legislations that could jeopardize the work of NGOs, for the greater good of the country, as we would continue to oppose any restriction to what we consider as key indices of a true democratic state.’