The House of Representatives on Friday restated its determination to pass a bill to regulate non-governmental organisations, NGOs.
Several Nigerians including the former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, have criticised the bill describing it as unnecessary. Such critics say there are already enough existing laws that only need to be implemented and that the bill was designed to muscle NGOs and civil society organisations, CSOs.
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Umar Jibril, has, however, defended the decision of the lawmakers to pass the new NGO bill.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by an aide to the Speaker of the House, Mr. Jibril alleged that "some NGOs collected funds for North East IDPs and disappeared."
He said religious organisations will not be affected by the proposed bill. He also said "some NGOs are used to fund the activities of terrorists and insurgents."
Read Mr. Jibril's full statement below.
... Some NGOs collected funds for North East IDPs and disappeared
... Churches, Mosques, Esusu, Market Women Associations not affected.
1. Religious bodies and organisations are NOT NGOs
2. Our quasi financial institutions at local levels are NOT NGOs! These organisations have existed for centuries to serve businesses and commerce of our market women and traders.
Now NGOs(Non-Governmental Organizations) and CSOs(Civil Society Organizations) are voluntary organisations that are registered to partner government at all levels to fill gaps wherever they exist. They are supposed to be partners in progress with the government; therefore the need for a commission to serve this purpose arises.
Secondly and naturally for them to carry out their activities, the NGOs and CSOs solicit for funds from all over the world and collect billions of naira on behalf of Nigerians!
Thirdly they recruit expatriates to help them run their activities in the country with lots of abuses.
However, recent developments have shown that;
-- Some people registered NGOs,solicited for funds and disappeared. That happened recently in the North-east.
-- Some NGOs are used to fund the activities of terrorist and insurgents!
The NGOs bill therefore is primarily to set up a commission to regulate their activities and provide a platform for robust relationships between them and the government for the interests of Nigerians.
In addition it is to ensure TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY in the ways and manners the NGOs collect moneys and use them for Nigerians.
The NGOs bill is not new or peculiar to Nigeria. It exists in many countries particularly in the ECOWAS sub- region and all over Africa and other continents. In Europe, Israel passed theirs last year! Kenya has a similar law since 1990!
Nigeria is and should not be a banana republic where anything goes.
Finally, the way the NGOs are reacting to this wonderful and well packaged bill particularly SERAP is not only shameful but condemnable.
The Nigerian parliament is an institution governed by rules and traditions. When a bill is for public hearing you go there and present your views like other interested Nigerians and invited cooperate bodies and government agencies for the standing committee to do justice to the bill. Period!
Going on cheap propaganda and blackmail and even calling on World bodies including the United Nations to help you withdraw a bill from our National Assembly will not help you!
Hon. Umar Buba Jibril
Deputy Majority Leader
House of Representatives