The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the National Assembly to stop considering the Non-Governmental Organisation Regulatory Commission Bill in the interest of democracy, transparency, accountability and inclusiveness.
Director-General of LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, made the appeal in a statement on Monday in Lagos.
He said that NGOs and civil society organisations were a stabilising force and platforms through which the citizens could freely express themselves to promote inclusiveness and participation in democratic processes.
“Many economic, social and political policies have been shaped through input from NGOs and civil society organisations.
The NGO Regulatory Bill is clearly not consistent with democratic ideals and values.
“Many important and critical policy reforms were the result of very active advocacy by the private sector bodies.
“We have seen reforms at sectoral and macro-economic levels which were outcomes of unrelenting voice of the Nigerian private sector organisations.
“Such reforms have not only benefitted the economy, but have impacted on the citizens positively,” Yusuf said.
He said that the private sector had made some reform initiatives for infrastructure development and incentives for critical sectors of the economy.
The director-general noted that the foreign exchange policy and trade policy to advance the interest of domestic investors resulted from advocacy of the private sector.
“The NGO Regulatory Bill, in its present form, will without doubt stifle and repress advocacy initiatives of the private sector organisations,” he said.
He noted that activities of NGOs and civil society organisations kept the military at away from political governance.
According to him, the Companies and Allied Matters Act and Money Laundering Act had adequate regulatory and institutional frameworks to ensure that NGOs conduct their affairs in a manner consistent with the laws.
Yusuf urged the National Assembly to strengthen existing regulatory and institutional frameworks for the oversight of NGOs and civil society organisations, if there were genuine worries over the activities of some of them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that bill, which has received condemnation from several quarters, was sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Umar Buba Jibril.
The bill is seeking establishment of an NGO Regulatory Commission that will issue renewable licences to NGOs and look into how they spend money received from donors.
The bill also seeks that NGOs should submit reports about their finances to the commission. (NAN)