Alhaji Ibrahim Salihu, a writer and an activists has called for stricter regulation for Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s)and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)in the country ahead of 2023 general elections.
Salihu made the call in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, adding that this was critical to streamline their operations in the interest of all.
He noted that the core thrust of mainstream CSO’s and NGOs was to promote human rights, democracy, good governance and civil liberties in ecosystems where they operated.
According to him, many Nigeria’s civil society startups exist precisely because the barrier for entry is so low.
“Unlike under military rule, today’s newly formed NGOs are relatively free to operate, build relationships, and seek support with international donors.
“They are also now able to leverage transformative outreach and fund raising tools on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp amongst others,” Salihu said.
He noted that since 2015, legislators had twice introduced bills to strictly regulate NGOs, even though they were already subject to corporate laws such as the Companies and Allied Matters (CAMA) Act.
He recalled that the House deputy majority leader introduced the first such bill in 2016 which failed to pass before the legislative session ended in 2019.
“The Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila championed a similar bill in 2019, declaring that NGOs needed stricter regulation because some were aiding Boko Haram insurgency.
“This second bill aimed to create a civil society regulatory agency with just four civil society representatives on its 19 seat board.
“Two of those four would be nominated by the National Youth Council of Nigeria,” he said, adding that in early 2020, the bill stalled amid sharp criticism from civil society and some legislators,” Salihu said.
He, however, added that mainstreaming NGOs of all sizes and construct needed funds to operate, organise events, conduct training and research, pay staff, and rent office space.
He said most legitimate NGOs were supported either directly by grants or task-specific contracts from international development agencies and charitable foundations, or indirectly via partnerships with larger NGOs.
He said while many disclosed their funding pipeline on their web portal, at their events, or in their annual reports, most international donors publish details of projects and organisations they fund.
According to him, some NGOs solicit funds for selfish motives to fund activities, a development that must be corrected.