Mrs. Toyin Saraki, the wife of Senate President, wants the NGO Regulatory Commission Bill, currently under consideration at the House of Representatives, to be revised because it is inadequate.
Mrs Saraki’s position came just as a former National Secretary of Labour Party (LP), Mr Kayode Ajulo, expressed his support for the bill.
“First, the NGO Bill’s definitions of an NGO and a CSO are inadequate, excluding faith-based entities/groups, philanthropies, and labour/trade unions. Further, because NGOs and CSOs are already registered under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), the requirement of renewable registration, every 2 years, under the new (about-to-be-established) Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission of Nigeria (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Commission’) poses operational risks to especially multi-year projects and programs, not least because, in the event of the cancellation or suspension of registration, the NGO Bill makes no provision for a possible appeal of such a decision, directly to the Commission”, she said in a letter to Speaker Yakubu Dogara. “Second, on the issue of approval of NGO/CSO projects, by the relevant Ministry (eg, Health; Agriculture and Rural Development; Women Affairs and Social Development; etc), as made under Clause 26(1) of the NGO Bill, this needs to be corrected, as it portends the potential for manipulation and other bureaucratic delays.
On his part, Ajulo said founders of NGOs operating in the country are driven by selfish, financial gains accruing from their activities rather than the passion to serve humanity.
Quoting from a memorandum he submitted to the House of Representatives, he noted that it was because of the financial gains to be made that there is a proliferation of “emergency NGO founders” across the country.
The activist said the era envisaged under the bill will ensure that NGOs are driven by passion and not by financial inducement.
According to him, the commission to be established will be saddled with the responsibility of issuing licenses to NGOs renewable every two years while also submitting financial reports.
Ajulo explained that several Nigerians had criticized the bill on the grounds that there are enough laws that only need to be implemented and that the bill was designed to muscle NGOs and Civil Society Organizations.
Strongly expressing his disagreement with the critics, the former LP leader said he was of the firm belief that there should be a regulatory framework for NGOs and CSOs.