The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria will soon get a Code of Conduct that will regulate their activities.
This is coming on the heels of allegations mainly from government agencies that the sector is being used to finance terrorism in Nigeria amongst other allegations.
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Consequently, the National Technical Committee (NTC) on CSO self-regulation staged a national consultative meeting on CSO self-regulation in Nigeria, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre Abuja, on Wednesday.
While speaking about the meeting, Damilare Babalola, the National Program Manager, European Union Agency for Citizens-driven Transformation Programme, said CSOs in Nigeria want to emulate other sectors that regulate the activities of members.
He said though there were laws guiding the operations of the CSOs in Nigeria, they should have some set of principles and code of conduct to guide their own operations.
“Those are some of the things that we found missing in the civil society sector and that is all this meeting is all about.
“We are trying to create an avenue to collect information, ideas and data from multiple stakeholders including government agencies, donors and development partners so that they (CSOs) can now look at what is the right model for them to regulate themselves,” he added.
On his part, David Anyaele of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and a member of the NTC, noted that there were increasing challenges in the credibility of CSOs working in Nigeria.
“There is this assumption that CSOs are funding terrorism.
“There is also this thinking in some quarters that CSOs are not rendering enough stewardship as required.
“Recognising the efforts of the National Assembly to create a legal framework to regulate the CSOs in Nigeria, coupled with the need for us to present ourselves the way we are, that informed this effort by CSOs to develop a framework that they can use to regulate their activities in Nigeria,” he said.
He added that the NTC had within the past weeks engaged CSOs in the North and South in order to get the best framework to guide the sector in Nigeria.
He said they were working on a document that the government, the donors and the CSOs themselves will buy into at the end of the day.
Also speaking, Wynyfred Achu-Egbuson, Project Manager responsible for Civil Societies and Youths for the EU delegation in Nigeria, said the plan is not to have a one-sided fit all plan for all CSOs to conform with; “but to have a set of code of conduct that would be driven from the national level and then civil society organisations from the sub-national level will feed into.”
She added that; “the plan is actually to have quite a number of regulatory models that civil society organisations can be part of and also have regulatory models whereby it’s functional at the sub-national levels. So, it’s a bottom-up and top-down approach.
“There has been an increase in the number of CSOs in the country, hence it’s important to have self-regulatory guidelines so that we will no need to wait on the government to regulate the civil society space.
“By that, we will prevent the notion that government is trying to cage the CSOs.”
She said the EU Act team is also working closely with the Corporate Affairs Commission to ensure that the CAMA law is understood by the civil society organisations in Nigeria.