Dear Nonprofit Leader,
2017 was an upsetting year for the sector. Our resilience was tested by the economic recession and our integrity and togetherness, challenged by the obnoxious House Bill 585. In all, we came out stronger and better. Though the battle is not yet over, we are confident that we will get to the finish line.
2018 presents us with the opportunity to reform our sector and to take our place in national development especially in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also the year we need to introspect and address the transparency and accountability deficits existing in our fold.
While the debate on the NGO bill rages, we heard a lot about our sector; there were valid concerns, misconceptions, blackmail and misinformation. These must in 2018, inform how we respond to the future of our work as a sector. None of these voices should be missed in our efforts to reform the sector for effectiveness and growth.
Our most cherished value as a sector is accountability. Though many nonprofits are self-funded, there still exists a wide gap in our regulatory compliance; we cannot continue our ways of not reporting to our regulators and stakeholders. Record keeping is a challenge which we must all work together to address in the New Year.
Regulators are expected to step up their regulatory compliance mechanisms in the year. We must work with our regulators as a sector to ensure that their actions enable our operational environment. It is pertinent to be reasonable in our approach to issues bothering on the implementation of existing regulatory frameworks and at the same time, propose necessary reforms to these frameworks.
Each organisation must work out its own transparency and accountability mechanism in line with international best practices and norms. This will entail increasing Board engagement and oversight on their operations, enhancing organisational and operational planning, improving financial management systems, accelerating project implementation, establishing regulatory compliance processes and sustaining transparency and accountability procedures. Bigger nonprofits must be willing to mentor medium and small sized nonprofits, being our brother’s keepers will be the watchword in 2018.
For our sector, 2018 is an important year as it is a pre-election period. We must seize the moment to ensure that we have in place a civil society manifesto that is SDGs-based, one that can serve as a framework for citizens’ demand to individuals seeking elective offices in 2019. Issues already captured in the 17 global goals must form a basis for our national and local election debates.
As the 3rd sector continues to mature, our ability to sit at the table with government and the private sector using evidence from our work is becoming a necessity, we must pay attention to lessons from our activities that can aid policy formulation and implementation. Now is the time to stop agonizing and start organizing for the change we want to see.
For us at the Nigeria Network of NGOs, our work this year will be shaped under 4 strategic pillars—Enabling the operational environment for Nigerian nonprofits, sustaining advocacy on the attainment of the SDGs, strengthening sector-wide organisational capacity and improving knowledge on the Nigerian 3rd sector space. I am counting on your support to make this happen.
May 2018 be the sector’s best year yet!
Oyebisi B. Oluseyi
Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs.