Last week Friday, the Nigerian House of Reps proposed a Bill which was sponsored by Hon. Umar Buba Jibril of Kogi state. The bill seeks to monitor and regulate the activities of Non Governmental Organisations in the country.
Since then, there have been mixed responses, from Nigerians, religious groups and human rights organizations across the board. It’s clear from some of the voices in the mix that a lot of people do not fully understand the bill or simply have not considered both sides of the argument.
You can download the bill and see more of it’s contents indepth here.
This article is neither for or against the bill but simply aims to present the facts as they exist and to hear your answers to the question: What do you think of the NGO Bill?
To begin with, there are a number of points in favor of the passage of this bill, some properly elucidated in this article on Premium Times. The crux of the matter seems to be the current lack of transparency and accountability in the operations of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations. The unfortunate truth is that some of these organisations are simply an avenue for groups of people and even sometimes politicians to embezzle financial aid from charitable international organizations and the contributions of benevolent individuals.
This was rampant in the recent cases of IDP relief where several amounts were donated and never accounted for; subsequently a lot of Boko Haram victims continue to suffer and die of malnutrition and disease. In addition, NGOs are often used as an easy cover for individuals and groups seeking to evade tax and audit.
Suddenly, it begins to make sense that there should be some sort of regulatory body governing the activities of these organizations, as is the case in several other countries including Kenya and Israel. In saner climes, this would be a reasonable move. But of course, Nigeria has it’s own unique problems. Opponents to the bill are worried for different reasons. The main concern is that the Nigerian government is notorious for dishonesty and underhanded motives.
Lack of trust in the government leads several groups of people to believe that they might be up to something more sinister with this new bill.
For example, NGOs which monitor political processes and speak against government discrepancies are worried that this is a move by the current administration to try and stifle their activities.
Then religious organisations believe that the bill is a means to monitor and control their activities, [and you know how Nigerians love their religion]. Some have even suggested that the NGO Bill is part of a grand plan to Islamise the country.
Let’s not go too far and overlook the fact that this proposed NGO Regulatory Commission could as well turn into another avenue to waste government funds on, redundant functions, bureaucracy and further enable corruption.
Meanwhile, Human Rights bodies are against the bill because they see it as a means for the government to impose unnecessary control on the people’s freedom. For example, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission is of the view that most of the roles and functions ascribed to this ‘Commission’ in the proposed bill already falls within the mandate of Corporate Affairs Commission. They are however suggesting a modification of certain sections of the bill as opposed to complete denial.
So far, it’s unclear what the outcome of this one will be as both sides have some valid reasons. What do you think? Should the NGO Bill be denied or passed into law?