NGO Bill &The Fate Of FG’s Establishments In The Hand Of Rouge CSOs (1) – By Gbadebo Smith
Facts Have Started Emerging to Why the National Assembly ((NASS) is eager to pass the Non-Governmental Organization ((NGO) bill. Apart from the need to ensure national security protection by monitoring the finances of the NGOs, the problem of criminal harassment, intimidation and blackmail of federal government establishments, as well as the three arms of government for financial gain by criminal elements within the fold of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) formed the main plank of the bill.
It is no more news that the proposed bill did not receive the blessing of Nigerians because of modus operandi of the implementation and supervision of the NGOs in the expected law that will emerge from it. However, stakeholders at the public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives committee on NGO, held on December 13, 2017, admitted that there is urgent need to check the activities of rouge elements within its fold. The consensus among genuine CSOs was that, in order to preserve the independence of the NGOs, there is urgent need for self-regulation.
As a result the need for independence of NGOs, a group of patriotic Nigerians, made-up of professionals from different walks of life, under the banner of, Sanitise NGOs, met in Abuja to find a way of checking the criminal activities of rogue CSOs. To sanitize the NGOs in Nigeria to operate in accordance with international best practice, this redemptive group agreed that Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will have to play a vital but patriotic role here. From investigation of the activities of Anti- corruption CSOs in Nigeria, it was discovered that some of them use the CSOs for criminal extortion and blackmail in disguise.
It was also discovered that rouge CSOs take advantage of government’s simplification of NGO registration in Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to register as many NGOs as possible, then coined a name to depict the NGOs as a either Coalition or Network under the coined name. For instance, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), is a CSO with more than 150 NGOs according to its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, who is lawyer by profession. While in company registration, individual companies maintains their separate identity under a group. This is not the case in coalition or network of NGOs for the purpose of financial returns and proper auditing. In group accounting, the balance sheet shows the financial activities of each and every company under the group. Experts in financial matters and auditing have called on government to develop a proper accounting standard for NGOs to ensure sanity in their financial dealings.
According to Sanitise NGOs finding, most of the chairmen or directors of dubious anti-corruption CSOs are lawyers by profession. Having failed in legal practices, they elected to float NGO, with sole intension of making money. Although, there are clean and genuine ones around, but they don’t go around claiming to have 200 NGOs under their Network or Coalition. The task before barrister Abubakar Mahmoud led NBA is to design a template code of conduct for non-practicing lawyers, so as to insulate the profession from criminal tendencies of some chief executives of some CSOs. NBA is too illustrious a body to be tarnished by the activities of some bad elements. The fact that a lawyer is not in legal practice, does not mean his activities cannot be monitored.
To be continued.
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