OrderPaperToday- The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a bill seeking to regulate Civil Society Organisations (CSO) operating within the country.
The bill which is titled, “A Bill for an Act to establish Civil Societies Regulatory Commission for coordinated regulation of civil society organisations for the purposes of strengthening their capacities to promote democracy and development in the country” was sponsored by Mr. Abbas Tajudeen (APC, Kaduna).
Presenting the bill, Tajudeen said it would help to checkmate funding and activities of the various civil societies but the Kaduna state lawmaker changed his mind and decided to step the bill down after other members who had the opportunity to speak didn’t support the bill.
According to him, “I would like to seek the leave of the house to step down this bill because of the controversy it has generated, this would enable me consult wider and if need be for me to reintroduce it I will not hesitate. I hereby stepdown this bill.”
Speaking earlier, Mr Bamidele Salam(PDP Osun) opined that ”there is need to stream line agencies that are not functional in the system and creation of a regulatory agency for civil society is unnecessary to prevent multiple law for civil societies.”
Another member who spoke against the bill, Mr. Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia) said, “civil societies are regulated by CAMA (Company and Allied Matters Act), therefore the creation of the agency is not important as it will hinder freedom of civil societies going by the content of the bill”.
Contributing to the debate Mr. Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo) said, “civil society is not under government, the entire debate as stated by sponsor seems to cast aspersion on the civil society”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Herman Hembe (APGA, Benue) who also spoke against the bill asked that the bill should not just be withdrawn but should be stepped down because if allowed to be considered Nigerians may see the lawmakers in a negative light.
“Mr. Speaker, this bill should not even be debated because it lacks merit and Nigerians may look at us in a negative light. So, my suggestion is that the bill should be stepped down not withdrawn.”
However, it was very glaring and obvious that the presiding officer Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila who presided over plenary while debate on the bill went on showed interest in supporting the bill to scale through second reading.
He said, “honourable colleagues, for me this bill should be allowed to scale through second reading so as to enable the Committee come up with the final decision”.
Recall in the eight assembly, the bill was similarly brought on the floor of the House of Representatives but it eventually died a natural death when it was committed to the Committee on Civil Society Organizations.