Nigeria Network of NGOs convenes 14th Annual Conference with focus on CSO legitimacy, transparency and accountability in Nigeria

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LAGOS, Nigeria, September 9, 2014/– Civil society actors, governments, donor agencies and other significant stakeholders will be meeting on the 3rd of December in Lagos at the 14th Annual Conference of the Nigeria Network of NGOs under the title: CSO Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability: The role of government and civil society.

The gathering provides a platform to expand  knowledge  of  civil society  organizations  and  governments on CSO regulations, best practices and innovations in order to spark a healthy debate on improving  the  regulatory  environment for  Nigerian  CSOs. The 2014 edition of the Conference is set against the backdrop of recent happenings in the country as it relates  to  civil  society  regulation  and  different  Bills  in  the  National  Assembly  seeking  to  regulate  the  work  of  Nigerian  NGOs.

In  April  and  June 2014,  two  Bills  (Foreign  Contributions  Bill  and  NGO  Regulatory  Agency  Bill) were read  on the floor  of  the National  Assembly,  with  both  Bills  seeking  to  regulate the work of NGOs. The Bills as conceived remain a threat to the work of NGOs and the wider civil society community. “The 14th Annual Conference is taking place at a critical time in the history of our work as the National Assembly seeks to regulate how Nigerian NGOs receive and utilize funds including how to coordinate and monitor NGOs,” said Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi, Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs (www.nnngo.org ). “Beyond the Bills there has been an increased call for NGO transparency and accountability by various stakeholders, we believe that by bringing together state and non state actors, we can help foster new approaches that will help ensure a truly accountable 3rd sector in Nigeria.”

In the last 3 years, issues of accountability and transparency amongst the NGO sector have received national and global attention, defining the way in which NGOs are perceived and treated. While  the  accountability  of  NGOs  are  non-negotiable  there  has  been  a  continuous  rush  by  governments  to regulate or over regulate the work of NGOs one that has led to a trend that is threatening the environment within  which  civil  society  organizations  go  about  their  businesses.

Certainly there are opportunities and threats as the call for NGO accountability increases. The 14th Annual Conference will provide a valuable network-building opportunity and a unique  opportunity  to  exchange  ideas, experiences and  engage NGOs, policy  makers,  government  agencies  in  charge  of  NGO  regulations, diverse  experts,  and  organizations on  best  practices  and  innovations  for  regulating the work of NGOs.

The  2012  Annual  Conference  of  the  Network  was  about  reviewing  past  relationships  and  partnerships with  government/private  sector, present  and  future  opportunities. In  2013,  the  Conference highlighted effective  ways  in  which  civil  society  organizations  in  partnership with other actors (government, donors and the private sector) can evolve alternative sources of funding for  development under  the  theme: “Evolving  with  our  Sector:  Finding  Alternatives  to Funding  our  Work”. In 2014, the theme for the Annual Conference is improving the regulatory environment for CSOs in Nigeria.

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