CSOs need to be more engaging – CDD Director Idayat Hassan

The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, has called on civil society organisations in Nigeria to do more and focus on engaging activities that would drive home their cause across Nigeria and the globe in general.

Hassan made the call on Wednesday, July 29, during a webinar organised by the working group of Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (ACT) on CSOs regulation.

The event themed Regulatory Environment and Civil Society Sustainability is focused on addressing challenges posed by regulations of CSOs, their funding and survival in the non-profit ecosystem.

ACT, a European Union-funded program aims to address challenges encountered by civil society organisations in Nigeria.

The program supports CSOs by strengthening its institutional structural system and facilitating avenues for multi-stakeholder dialogue for an effective regulatory environment for their operation.

Continuing Hassan said while there is an issue of regulation, many CSOs are not in compliance with basic requirements outlined by the government.

“For example, many CSOs don’t even file their taxes, they don’t comply with the regulations already in place,” Hassan said.

Also, calling on colleagues in the sector to strengthen their legitimacy of purpose among others, Hassan said organisations must work to eliminate perceptions that CSOs are corrupt and only interested in living exotic lifestyles.

She urged CSOs to work hard towards being innovative and continue to comply with laid-down regulations listed by the Nigerian government for their operations.

“This should not end as another talk shop as we are used to but the beginning of a continuous engagement for CSOs,” CDD Director said.

Also speaking, Otive Igbuzor, the chief of staff to the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said there is a need to increase awareness of the Tri-Sector Model which is key in the survival of CSOs.

Calling for improved engagement with government and other stakeholders, Igbuzor said CSOs must build capacities within its leadership structure to engage strategically through advocacy.

Igbuzor said: “There are many jobbers who take up the position of CSOs these are the people seen on Televisions as CSOs. First, we need to build leadership capacity and operate a functional strategy, institutional strategy and be strategic with our engagement with the government.”

“The best way to penetrate the government is to engage government, use advocacy language and that is one of the most important skills we must learn. Once we do this we will be able to do good work,” Igbuzor added.

Speaking on the legitimacy of purpose, the Director of Enough is Enough, Yemi Adamolekun, said honesty in the work the CSOs pledge to do has become an issue to be worried about.

Decrying the lack commitment of some CSOs on the job, Adamolekun said: “People just want to be called the executive director and chief executive directors of organisations without a plan to do the work for which the organisation was established.”

She also said for her, there is a need to get Nigerians involved in the activities and work that the CSOs are doing.

“Not all of us can be making decisions or drafting policies. If everyone in the social-economic bracket commits to org. that speak to what they believe in then CSOs won’t have a problem,” Adamolekun said.

On regulation of CSOs in Nigeria, Adamolekun said there is no need for additional regulatory systems, she however said, it is important to ensure that organisations know what is regulated and adhere to these regulations – file their taxes among many others.

In his remarks, John Onyeukwu, the programme manager, Civil Society and Local Authorities, European Union Delegation in Nigeria, said every organisation must have systems that work.

According to Onyeukwu, “people must not be allowed to run rogue.”

Further calling for local philanthropy, Onyeukwu said while it is very difficult to get people to contribute to issues, Nigerians must be enlightened to understand its importance of commitment in the sector.

“There is a whole lot we need to do with getting our people committed to issues that concern the people,” Onyeuwku said.

For Oluseyi Oyebisi, the Executive Director of Nigerian Network of Non-Governmental Organisations, CSOs must begin to look inward to either complement donor funding or find other sources of funds their activities.

Listing examples Oyebisi called for local funding, philanthropy funding, legacy funding and crowdfunding for Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria.

You can watch the full event here on Facebook