Summary of the NGO Bill

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Long title                 Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Non-Governmental    Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Co-ordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations etc, in Nigeria and for Related Matters

 

Popular title                    NGO Bill

 

NGO Bill: History, Objectives

Sponsored by Honorable Umar Buba Jibril, the NGO Bill was introduced in June 2016 to enlarge governmental powers to regulate, monitor the funding and operation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs). Out of the several bills seeking to regulate non-profit organizations (NPOs) in Nigeria, the NGO Bill has received greater attention from CSOs than the other subsisting bills because it contains far-reaching, restrictive provisions than its counterparts. Having passed the Second Reading stage within a short while, the Bill has now been sent to the Committee on Civil Society and Development Partners for legislative input.

The Bill is premised on the argument that NPOs are poorly regulated. Therefore, it was arguably, desirable to have a regulatory agency established specifically for regulating NPO funding streams. Hence, the [regulatory commission established under the NGO Bill] shall facilitate and coordinate the work of all national and international civil society organisations and … will assist in checking any likelihood of any civil society organisation being illegally sponsored against the interest of Nigeria.”

 

Provisions of the NGO Bill

Below is a summary of the salient provisions of the NGO Bill:

SN Subject Summary of Provisions
 

1

The NGO Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) The Bill establishes the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission of Nigeria with functions including facilitating and coordinating the work of all national and international non-governmental organisations, maintaining a register for NPOs, receiving annual reports of NPOs, and advising the government on the activities of NPOs.
2 Registration of NGOs Requires every NPO to be registered with the Commission and sets out the requirements and procedure for registration. Fees shall be charged for the registration.

A certificate shall be issued upon registration. Registration with the Commission shall confer legal personality on the NPO.

Every certificate issued by the Commission shall be valid for a period of 24 months, and must thereafter be renewed by the NPO. Failure to renew will amount to termination of operation and will lead to the deletion of the name of the NPO from the register.

The Commission may refuse registration of an applicant if it is satisfied that its proposed activities or procedures are not in the national interest or on the recommendation of the Nigerian National Council of Voluntary Agencies (a body to be established under the NGO Bill).

The Commission may also cancel or suspend a certificate issued under the Bill.

3 Offence for Non Registration It shall be an offence for any person to operate an NPO in Nigeria for welfare, research, health relief, agriculture, education, industry, the supply of amenities or any other similar purposes without registration and certificate under the NGO Bill.
4 Immigration The Commission shall review applications for work permits in respect of prospective employees of a registered NPO and make recommendation to the Comptroller of Immigration for the issuance of the permit to the applicant.
5 Diplomatic Immunity An organisation registered under the NGO Bill shall not be entitled to diplomatic or consular privileges or immunities.
6 Collaboration with and Disclosures to the Ministry of Interior An NPO is required not only to cooperate with its target constituency in respect of its projects but also obtain the approval of the Ministry of Interior to ensure that the project is in line with the objectives of the government.

The project would also be registered by the Ministry of Interior and any variation of the project shall be communicated to the Ministry of Interior.

In applying for the approval of the Ministry of Interior, the NPO is required to provide a number of information to the Ministry of Interior including the type of activities to be undertaken by the organisation, source of funding, implementation strategies and personnel information.

7 Disclosure of Donor Funds and Assets (Sections 25(c) and 29) Funds pledged by donors must be disclosed before commencement of the implementation of the project including the identity of the donors, the mode of disbursement and the conditions attached to the funding by the donor.

Assets transferred to build the capacity of an organisation shall be done through the Commission which will identify the operation criteria.

8 Dealing with Assets of an NGO upon Discontinuance of Operation The assets owned by NPOs through purchase or acquisition with donor funds are the property of the people of Nigeria.

Upon discontinuance of operations, the NPO shall not dispose of the assets and keep the relevant proceeds. The assets shall be surrendered to the government as trustee for the people of Nigeria.

The NPO shall require the sanction of the Commission before transferring its assets to a like organisation.

9 Import Duty Waivers Subject to certain conditions, importations by NPOs of articles imported in connection with its activities.
10 Taxation NPOs are required to comply fully with the tax laws of Nigeria. An NPO which generates income must declare same to the Federal Inland Revenue Service and obtain a certificate of exemption.
11 Personnel Matters NPOs shall promote the development of human resources and appropriate training for its Nigerian employees. NPOs are expected to use locally sourced expertise and expatriates are only to be used when the required expertise is not available in Nigeria.
12 The Nigerian National Council of Voluntary Agencies (the “Council”) The Bill provides for the establishment of the Council which shall be a self-regulatory agency for NPOs in Nigeria and shall publish codes of conducts which shall apply to its members.

 

For further reading and analysis of the NGO Bill, please see CHAPTER 3 of the report: Beyond FATF: Trends, Risks and Restrictive Regulation of Non-Profit Organisations in Nigeria

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