NGOs, CSOs in Lokoja stage protests against bill
The Organisations that gathered in Lokoja at a one-day sensitisation programme yesterday said the member who has failed his people woefully dusted a bill presented in 2011 to get cheap popularity.
They described his effort at presenting a failed bill as a fraud because he copied some other persons work that did not see the light of day only for him to append his signature to pretend that he is working.
This is coming against the backdrop that the Member representing Lokoja/Kotokarfe Federal constituency, Honourable Umar Buba Jubril had recently sponsored a bill seeking among other things, a regulatory body for proper supervision, monitoring and coordination of the CSOs and NGOs in the country.
Buba who lamented the high influx of CSOs and NGOs in the country argued that they lack legal framework that supervises their mode of operations and funding.
They unanimously called on the member to immediately discontinue the sponsorship of the bill for the interest of his constituents, that of Kogi and Nigeria at large.
The Executive Secretary of the Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria(CiSHAN), Mr Walter Ugwuocha indicated that the action of Honourable Buba is a direct attempt to stifle the growing democracy and its tenets which among them, permits freedom of association.
Ugwuocha noted that the bill if allowed to see the light of the day, will have adverse effects on the common man as genuine developmental projects previously undertaken by them will be stifled due to excessive control of their budget by the government.
“Every NGOs goes through external auditing from the big four once in a year.Whereas for the past sixteen years, the Federal Ministry of Health for instance, does not have audited account. Why are we not asking questions in this regard?
“When donors funds are missing, it is always traced back to Federal Government’s coffers and not the CSOs and NGOs. It is therefore an infringement of our Fundamental Human Rights on the part of the lawmaker to seek government’s regulations of our activities when there are other burning national issues”, he stated.
Chairman Kogi network of NGOs Adejoh Mathew Victor said they are very concerned about the bill because it does not in any way add value to the work they are doing as NGOs or as NGOs and as civil society.
“We are raising our voices in condemnation of this bill because what the bill wants to achieve is uncalled for at this point our development in the country and so we will want to advise the member to drop the bill.
“When you setup a regulatory committee it would regulate people’s ability to voluntarily serve their own country. You are now wanting to acquire access to organisations whose income depend on the of generosity of other individuals.”
He indicated that though the bill is seeking to fight mismanagement, for accountability and transparency.The chairman said they are transparent enough, with their work plans as they are registered with CAC and also operate accounts based on EFCC regulations.
‘So what other regulations is he asking after?’
The Kogi state coordinator of the Network Against Child Trafficking and Labour, Mr John Amabi who described the action of Honourable Buba as unfortunate said Civil Society Organisations is bedrock of democracy of in any civil nation and attempt to regulate them is an open invitation of draconian rules.
“Civil society is the reason for democracy, without CSOs there is no democracy because when the Military was holding the country at the jugular the United Nations used the instruments of civil Society to knockout the military.
“Now the beneficiaries of that struggle; politicians are now trying to cage the CSOs and indirectly they are inviting the military to stage a come back.”
Amabi who urged Honourable Buba to sponsor bills that have direct positive effects on his Lokoja/Koton-Karfe constituency and Nigeria at large said Kogi state needs more Federal government presence in terms of facilities as against the bill which he described as “anti-democratic”.
“The only reason Nigeria is enjoying the new found democracy is because the military is afraid of the strength of CSOs and their network in the country and I am saying the Bill is against democracy and not just against the civil society as it appears.”
He appealed to the legislator to withdraw the bill for his good name because when he was having it rough with his party it was the CSOs that rallied round him to get the mandate not for him to go there to sponsor a bill against his benefactors.