It is commendable that Chidi Odikalu, a legal practitioner and former boss of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) under the platform of Nigeria Bar Association came out to enlighten Nigerias in recent media on the attempt by the National Assembly to further silence civil society groups, who have been demanding for good governance from our leaders, through a draconian bill to regulate the operation of NGOs in the country.
I want add my own voice to this crusade, intended to ensure that all Nigerians rise to challenge the impending draconian bill. I must declare that any attempt to gag Nigerians from peaceful protest for a better Nigeria will lead to violent protest in the face of the growing disappointment and anger arising from bad leadership we have been experiencing over time from the National Assembly.
Before now I had earlier written a rejoinder some years ago about how to properly regulate the running of non governmental organizations to especially prevent abuse of NGOs especially for those who are in the habit of abusing grants and donations giving to them and for not living up to expectation in deploying the grants for the purpose they were given, especially from foreign countries.
I also posited that there must be different body from the Corporate Affairs Commission to supersive NGOs and register them as well, hence it is for non-profit making. And coming to tell us that it is about checkmating the sponsorship of terror groups through money laundering via NGOs is unacceptable as it is an attempt to give a dog bad name in order to hang it.
Well I am not surprised as our lawmakers have always been looking for ways to gag the people against protesting their malfeasance in the legislature. They tried muzzling and emasculating us via social media bill but Nigerians rose and rejected same hence the recent draconian bill on NGOs. Why take away our entire freedom by telling us we need license to associate and air our views. You cannot spank a child say he should not cry, especially when the pain is getting hotter? They even said that even when you are registered as an NGO you still need license to carry out your operation. This has been the bane of genuine NGOs committed to improving the welfare of poor Nigerians as such NGOs even hardly get registered by Corporate Affairs Commission when they see that you are radical and anti-government and because of these there are so many NGOs operating as either pressure groups and self determination groups that are not registered in the first place as United Nation Charter allows it.
Even when the National Conscience Party led by late Gani Fawehinmi applied for registration he was denied for many years because of his usual radical stance towards a better Nigeria. Not until he sued the government before his party and others became registered and so coming now with draconian bill against NGOs will amount to serious war. And also will encourage more violent groups like Boko Haram and the rest to become harder with their hostilities of which poor people have always been at the receiving end.
I think the National Assembly lawmakers are taking the docility of Nigerians for granted for not challenging them well enough for their poor performance in their interest to think about this draconian bill so that the few people challenging them for their corruption and bad governance will no longer have the means to do so. They could not succeed with their social media bill in muzzling the masses, the next step is to totally emasculate fundamental human rights of Nigerians to express and associate in protecting their interest.
It is very barbaric of them to think about this bill in the first instance after we rose to condemn their Amnesty Bill for Treasury Looters. I rest my case.
► Emeka Anozie, an activist wrote from Adegbola Street, Ikeja, Lagos.