CAMA: We need friendly laws to develop Nigeria, CSOs tell NASS

By Angela Atabo

Some CSOs on Tuesday called on the National Assembly to create laws that would guarantee an enabling environment for them to contribute to national development rather than limiting laws.

They made this presentation at a Multi-stakeholder Review Meeting on Frameworks for CSOs Operation organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

The meeting was organised with support from the European Union Agents for Ditizens-Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) and British Council.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the call was against the backdrop of some sections of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which they believed were meant to shrink the space and gag CSOs and their National developmental activities.

Mr Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director,PLAC, said the question with the bill was the onerous burden it placed on CSOs in terms of its provisions.

“These include management, reporting and the constrictions that it creates for civic space.

Nwanko said: “So, for a lot of us, it is a question to remove some of those burdens and ensure that NGOs working within civic space are not burdened by the onerous provisions of the bills.

“Companies, for instance, are expected to report once a year to CAC, but the burden on CSOs is twice.

“So, these are some of the issues and then the question of appointment of what is called trustees, NGOs are individual initiatives of people who want to create developments in the country.

“Therefore , we expect that bills and laws that exist should aim to support those individual initiatives and those are the concerns that civil society has.”

Nwankwo the meeting was organised to get legislative support for the work that CSOs were doing and to create the enabling environment for CSOs to contribute to national development.

He said: ”That was why PLAC brought people from agencies of government as well as legislators to create the legal framework that would enable NGOs to contribute more to national development.

“We have an ongoing demand, we want to see increased civil society legislative collaboration, and that is why the question about creating a civil society liaison offices is key and important ,looking at the companies and allied matters.”

Mr Jake Epelle, Founder and Chief Executive Officer ,The Albino Foundation, said anything that would bring sanity to civic space was welcomed, however, he believed in self regulation .

He adde’: “When you self regulate yourself, you actually avoid unnecessary government regulations.

” Anything that will bring sanity to the civil space is a welcome development, however, it must be a development that does not shrink the space and stop us from doing the work that we ought to do.

“I do not think there is any NGO in this country that does not want to do the right thing, there are a few, no doubt, but many want to do the right thing.”

According to Epelle, when there is synergy between the government, which includes the legislature and the civil society space, national development will be enhanced .

This ,he said, would be rewarding for the citizenry ,adding: “I think we need a strategic approach to come on so that they will be meaningful and bring the expected dividends.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs, Sen. Michael Ama-Nnachi said that the ninth senate would conclude work and pass the CAMA bill into law before the end of their tenure .

Ama-Nnachi thanked PLAC for its involvement and commitment in promoting good governance and citizens assets through capacity building.

He said that this has strengthened the nation’s democratic process.(NAN)