The Africa Centre for Leadership Strategy & Development- Centre LSD has decried the attempt by the National Assembly to pass the proposed NGO regulation bill into law, even as it called on well-meaning Nigerians to join to shoot it down.
In a statement issued by the Centre’s Programme Coordinator, Victoria Udoh and made available to The Agenda online, it called on Nigerians to come out en-mass for the Public hearing on the Bill.
“The Public Hearing on the NGO regulation bill is slated for the 13th-14th December 2017, at the National Assembly complex, Abuja. The Centre stands in solidarity with every well-meaning Nigerian and Civil Society to say NO to the passage of the bill. The bill which is currently being debated at the National Assembly has reached the point of almost being passed, if nothing is done about it.”
“The NGO Regulation Bill proposes the creation of a federal agency responsible for the supervision, coordination and monitoring of Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria. The NGO Regulatory Commission, will be headed by an Executive Secretary appointed by the President for five years and a 17-member Governing Board, led by a Chairman, all of whom shall also be appointed by the President. The Board will have powers to license all NGOs. Without the license of the Board, no NGO can operate. The license of the NGO Board alone (not registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission) will confer legal personality and perpetual succession on NGOs.”
“The attempt to clamp down on civil society is not a surprise as the Nigerian government first indicated their wish to take tough action on Civil Society in Nigeria when on the 1st of July 2016, it voted against the Human Rights Council of the United Nations resolution in which it urged states to create and maintain a law and practice a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity.”
“The resolution urged states to ensure that civil society actors can seek, secure and use resources; maintain accessible domestic procedures for the establishment or registration of organisations; ensure that civil society can input into potential implications of legislation when it is being developed, debated, implemented or reviewed and ensure access to justice, and accountability to end impunity for human rights violations and abuses against civil society actors.”
“Also on 26th November 2015, along with North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, Nigeria voted against UN resolution supporting and protecting people who promote and defend human rights. These were indications of the Nigerian government’s plan to muzzle the CSOs.”
Udoh described the bill as toxic and a threat to the country’s democracy.
“The goal of this bill is to curb voluntary organisations, stifle free speech, restricting other political freedoms and dishonour the tremendous sacrifices that ordinary Nigerians have made over the years to sustain democracy, protect civic life, defend civic space and ensure that every Nigerian has a voice and counts. This bill therefore should not be allowed to see the light of the day.”