We will probe closure of CSOs, NGOs offices … Reps

…vow to hold Executive, CSOs, NGOs accountable

By Gift Chapi Odekina

The Chairman, House Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partner Rep. Kabir Idris, reiterated the resolve of the Legislature towards holding the Executive arm of government, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organizations, Donor Agencies and Development Partners operating accountable to the citizens.

Idris who stated this during an oversight function to the office of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nigeria, applauded various humanitarian interventions initiated by ICRC across the country.

The Chairman who stressed the need to investigate the controversies trailing the activities of some NGOs and CSOs, which led to the shutting down of their operations by the Nigerian military, underscored the need for effective monitoring, investigation and constant evaluation of their activities for better productivity.

He said: “The mandate of the Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners, as was clearly articulated in our letter to you, includes among others, the Oversight of Local and International NGOs, Civil Society Organizations, Donor Agencies and Formulation of Policies and Guidelines for the Coordination and Regulation of the Activities of External Donor Agencies in the country.

“We are aware that there are a lot of humanitarian organizations operating in the North Eastern part of the country, including the ICRC, and other local and International NGOs.

“We are also aware that the funding for most of these aid activities comes from international donors, and that such funds runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Recently there has been a lot of controversy and misinformation relating to the activities of some of these NGOs and the funding organizations, and how such funds are being expended.

“One of the fallouts of these controversies and misinformation was the shutting down of some NGO regional offices by the military. That, in our opinion was a very unfortunate situation because the truth of the matter is that we desperately need the assistance for our brothers and sisters and children who are victims of the insurgency.

“However, such incidents could only have happened because of lack of effective monitoring, investigation and constant evaluation of the activities of CSOs and NGOs operating in the country.

“With the complains from the Nigerian Military on the need for the activities of NGOs and Development Partners to be scrutinized, the Committee on Civil Societies and Development partners therefore resolved, in line with its mandate, to take up the responsibility of carrying out necessary investigations to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of such incidents, and also gather other necessary information required for decision making.

“The National Assembly as the 3rd Arm of Government charged with the responsibilities of making laws for the good governance of the people and holding the Executive arm to account for its policies, actions, and spending, also has a key role to play in regulating the activities of NGOs, CSOs and to some level donor agencies and development partners.

“The key objective is to reduce, if not eliminate the various malpractices of CSOs and NGOs in the course of their operations and ensure accountability. This is where the Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners comes in.

“However, our understanding of the mode of operation of Organizations such as yours, the ICRC, is imperative if we are to effectively carry out our Oversight mandate.

“Our visit here today therefore, is basically to get some insight into the activities of the ICRC in Nigeria; how you operate? Who you operate with? What are the challenges? How best can the Committee partner with you to overcome those challenges, and ensure maximum benefit for our people.

“We also resolved, that we would reverse the tradition of asking you to appear before us in the National Assembly, but rather create a more relaxed and cordial engagement by coming to you,” Hon. Idris noted.

In his remarks, the deputy head of the delegation (Prevention), Mr. Rochus Peyer assured the ICRC will continue to expand its operations in the North East of Nigeria to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of the people by providing assistance to internally displaced persons in the terms of food, essential household items, shelter, water, sanitation snd health care including nutritional as well as mental heth and psychological programmes.

According to him, International Committee of the Red Cross is a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organisation operating in Nigeria since 1988 and is currently in Maiduguri, Yola, Damaturu, Kano, Biu, Jos, among others.

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