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Self-Regulatory Framework for CSOs Out in April – THISDAY Newspapers

Michael Olugbode

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in Nigeria have said a self-regulatory framework that would ensure that the sector executed its mandate in a transparent and efficient manner would be ready by April.
This was disclosed yesterday at the meeting of the General Assembly (GA) National Technical Committee (NTC) and Advisory Council on CSO Self-regulation in Nigeria, organised by the British Council in Abuja.
The NTC, GA and Advisory Council on CSOs Self-Regulation were co-facilitated by the European Union Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) Programme and the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Programme.
Speaking at the event, Harry Udoh, Chairman,  NTC on Civil Society Self-regulation, explained that the decision to develop a framework was informed by the need to build the eroding public trust on the civil society ecosystem.
He expressed concern that critical stakeholders especially, donors and the Nigerian government had scored CSOs performance low and the trust they had in the sector as well as public trust was eroding.
The chairman also disclosed that there was poor accountability in the management of funds and execution of project, and interventions in the sector.
He noted that these issues spurred attempts by the National Assembly to regulate the space, insisting that the method adopted by the lawmakers was however constricting the civil space, hence, the need to develop a self-regulatory model that would ensure that CSOs had the enabling environment to operate while also ensuring that they were responsible and accountable in delivering their mandate.
“Sometime in 2020, the EU identified state networks across the country  and the discussions began early 2021 to build legitimacy on what we need to do and rebuild eroding public trust. Critical stakeholders like development partners and even government felt that we have not done well. There has been several attempts by the National Assembly to regulate the sector, but they have come at it from an uninformed position that seems to restrict the space for civil society to operate.
“So, we thought that for us to respond to the fears that critical stakeholders have, we need to ensure that we find ways to hold our self to some basic minimal standards of operations and ensure we also build the public trust needed, to give ourselves the legitimacy we need to continue to operate. Its the need to self-preserve and also to build the eroding public trust in the civil society ecosystem,
“We have gone round the country meeting with critical stakeholders, development partners and civil society organisations. We have identified various models of self-regulation and so, we are meeting today to ratify the findings that we have gotten and thereafter, we go ahead and validate. We will start the validation immediately and we are hoping that the document will be ready before the end of April for adoption,” he said.
Policy and Governance Advisor at the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Programme, Abdusalam Bahamas, who spoke on behalf of the Chief of Party, Lydia Odeh, added that the civil society space was expanding and more resources were available in the sector, which reiterated the need to self-regulate.
Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oluseyi Oyebisi, said the self-regulatory framework would ensure that CSOs audit accounts and send to regulatory agencies  in the country, saying, “To curb corrupt practices, We are setting minimum standard on how we utilise funds and also create a feedback system to explain how we have used the funds.”
In his remarks, the Component 2 Manager Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (EU-ACT), Idem Udoekong, said the EU-funded programme was supporting CSOs to develop a regulatory framework that would create a more enabling environment, noting that regulatory framework could enable or disenable the civil society sector.

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