As the National Assembly is to host a public hearing on the NGO Regulatory Bill on Wednesday and Thursday, Global Rights Nigeria and many other civil society and faith-based organisations have remained defiant in their campaign against the bill which they believe is ant-NGO and aimed at muzzling the civil society in its quest to check the excesses of the government.
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The NGO Regulatory Bill which has gone through First and Second Readings is seeking for the enactment of an Act to provide for the establishment of Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission which will be shouldered with the supervision, coordination and monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations, (NGOs); Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Community-based Organisations (CBOs) in Nigeria.
“It will become evident shortly that the Bill under consideration makes no contribution to the existing legislation regulating voluntary societies in Nigeria. In many essential respects, it lowers existing legislative standards. It also overreaches the Constitution; damages Nigeria’s economy; and potentially diminishes the efficacy of Nigeria’s efforts on the ease of doing business. On the whole, the Bill risks being seen as damaging the credibility of government,” says Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru, the Country Director of Global Rights in Nigeria during a press briefing held on Tuesday.
In essence, Baiyewu-Teru said, the bill “creates bottlenecks with already existing bureaucracy. The monumental expenses a new institution will incur is not a burden tax payers should be further subjected to. It defeats the ease of doing business and creates uncertainty for donors and development partners. Should any organization default on existing laws which are copious and sufficient, then they should be penalized according to existing laws.”
Global Rights is leading several Nigerian NGOs, CSOs, and CBOs and other Nigerian citizens to protest against the bill tomorrow. “The NGO bill public hearing is tomorrow and it’s important that we speak for our sector loud and clear. For each person that fails to act, our actions will be one person less powerful. If we need to shut our offices down for just one day, our organisations will not die,” she said.