By Naomi Uzor
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has condemned the proposed Non –Government Organisation (NGO) bill, saying it will repress the advocacy initiatives of private sector organisations.
Consequently, the Chamber called on the National Assembly to discontinue the consideration of the bill in the interest of Nigerian democracy, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and equity in governance.
Making this call in a statement signed by the Director General of LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, and the Chamber said: “Already there are adequate regulatory and institutional frameworks to make the NGOs and Civil Society Organisations accountable and operate within the limits of the law.”
“There are the Companies and Allied Matters Act as well as the Money Laundering Act, which have robust provisions to ensure that the NGOs conduct their affairs in a manner consistent with the Nigerian laws. Besides, donor agencies have strict accountability and transparency systems and processes that guide the utilization of donor funds by beneficiaries. What needs to be done is to strengthen existing regulatory and institutional frameworks for the oversight of the NGOs and Civil society organizations if there are genuine worries over the activities of some of them” he said.
“Many important and critical policy reforms were the result of very active advocacy by the private sector bodies. We have seen reforms at sectoral and macroeconomic levels which were outcomes of the unrelenting voice of the Nigerian private sector organizations. Such reforms have not only benefited the economy, but have impacted the citizens positively. Some of these reforms initiatives are evident in the Telecommunications sector, infrastructure development, interest rate policy and incentives for critical sectors of the economy; the foreign exchange policy; trade policy to advance the interests of domestic investors and many more. The NGO bill [in its present form] will, without doubt, stifle and repress advocacy initiatives of the private sector organizations”, he stated.
Besides, he continued, the Nigerian Civil Society organizations and NGOs have made incredible sacrifices through rigorous advocacy to promote the ideals of transparency, democratic governance, social and political reforms. The outcomes of these advocacy activities have been largely beneficial to the Nigerian state, and even the political class. “They led the way to keep the military at bay in political governance and enthroned democracy. They were a critical part of the struggle that put an end to military incursion into political governance” he added.