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Regulating Non Governmental Organisation in Nigeria

April 23, 2019 Tonbofa Ashimi and Thelma Ekiyor

Development financing is a huge source of financing today. International organisations are seeking to give grants to African Non Governmental Organisations “NGOs” to help meet the basic needs of Africans ranging from women empowerment to energising communities. There has been a surge in establishment of NGOs around Africa and Nigeria of recent years. The key question that has arisen is “who regulates NGOs?” Who ensures that they are diligent in meeting the displayed objectives of their constituent documents? 

Corporate Status of NGOs in Nigeria

NGOs are registered as Incorporated Trustee under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act “CAMA” and are charities or non profit organisations. Some NGOs are companies limited by guarantee. The defining feature of an NGO is their non profit status.

  • The Board of Trustees is the decision making organ of the NGO as well as the members in a general meeting
  • NGOs do not pay dividends or profit to their members
  • NGOs cannot undertake activities outside the objectives in their constituent documents
  • NGOs do not pay tax due to their charity status
  • NGOs can own properties in their name, sue and be sued

 Reporting Obligations

  • CAC filings- NGOs are required to file Annual Returns to CAC 
  • CBN- through funds like the MSME Fund which requires NGO MFIs to meet requirements that include reporting obligations to CBN

Self Regulating 

Organisations that give grants to NGOs have detailed qualifying requirements. NGOs’ must meet the checklist. NGOs find they have to keep thorough internal processes and documents in order to qualify for these grants. To what extent do grants act as self regulating? To what degree does the NGO adhere to the processes in their operations and culture? 

Is More Regulation Needed for NGOs? 

There have been various attempts to regulate NGOs in Nigeria. We had the FRSC NFPO Code of Governance Bill 2014, the NGO Bill that provides for the NGO Commission which is still at the National Assembly. None of these have actually been finalised.

Discussants: Tonbofa Ashimi, Founder TONBOFA Law Practice  and Ms Thelma Ekiyor, CEO Afrigrants

Profile of Ms Thelma Ekiyor

CEO Afrigrants, Convener- The Funding Space. Development Expert,  Social Entrepreneur, Fundraising Expert, Senior Public Sector Project Advisor. Implemented projects in 22 African countries. Served as Senior Consultant to the Africa Union, ECA, IGAD, ECOWAS. Pioneered the establishment of national and international non-profit and philanthropic organizationsPassionate about equipping women to participate in decision making – co-founded women’s organizations. 

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