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 The House of Representatives is presently considering what perhaps qualifies as the most dangerous piece of legislation to come before the National Assembly since the return of civilian rule in 1999. It is the NGO Regulation Bill sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Umar Buba Jibril. The bill is stunning in its audacity, far-reaching in its scope and a danger to elective government in Nigeria. It should not be allowed to pass.

There is a context to this NGO Regulation Bill which is important. It comes at a time when the Federal Government, led by the same party whose parliamentary caucus Jibril leads in the House, has signalled enthusiasm and desire to establish a commission to regulate social media content. This, despite the fact that a similar measure previously sponsored by Jibril’s counterpart as the Deputy Majority Leader in the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, had earlier failed to pass muster. Around many states of the country, social media activists are routinely persecuted. With the active encouragement of the Federal Government and the ruling party, free expression is being chilled and dissent criminalised.

The NGO Regulation Bill is the latest among these measures to constrain the civic space and destroy dissent.

It comprises 58 sections of extraordinarily bad drafting, jumbled thinking and unconcealed ill-will.

The bill proposes to create an NGO Regulatory Commission, which will be headed by an executive secretary appointed by the President for five years and a 17-member governing Board, led by a chairman, all of whom shall also be appointed by the President. The Board will have powers to license all NGOs. Without the licence of the Board, no NGO can operate. The licence of the NGO Board alone (not registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission) will confer legal personality and perpetual succession on the NGOs. However, such a licence must be renewed every 24 months. If not, legal personality is lost. Clearly, no one told Jibril that the idea of renewing legal personality defeats the entire purpose of corporate personality.

The Board can refuse renewal for no reason. It can also capriciously waive all the requirements of the law, including registration.

The minister (of Interior) can direct the Board at his whim as he deems fit, including, presumably, to register or de-register any NGO.

All NGOs must submit reports to the Board of their money, where they get it from and how much. Before an NGO spends any money received, it must secure the permission of the NGO Board. If it does not, it violates the law. That’s a crime under the bill. The Board will also license NGOs on co-operation with international bodies.

The bill requires NGOs to comply with not merely all laws but also with “all national and foreign policies”, whatever that means.

Any violation of the bill, when passed into law, is a crime punishable with up to 18 months in prison.

The board will enjoy substantial immunity under law and from process, and any judgement against it cannot be enforced except with the express permission of the serving attorney-general of the federation.

As if these were not enough confusion, the bill proposes that the board will also oversee a Voluntary Code of conduct for NGOs to be adopted by “the first one hundred NGOs to be registered by the board.” The Code will be operated by a National Council for Voluntary Agencies.

The flaws in the bill are too many to be covered in the space available. Seven deserve to be highlighted.

First, the bill will governmentalise NGOs in Nigeria.

Second, it will suffocate NGOs with exponential bureaucratisation at a time when official government policy is to ease transaction costs for small entities.

Third, filled with a cocktail of whim and caprice, the bill is a boon to official corruption.

Fourth, it will militarise the civic space and make it impossible for anyone who harbours views different from those of the government to organise with legal protection around those views.

Fifth, the bill interferes with constitutionally protected rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly in a profoundly partisan and impermissible manner.

 

When he introduced the bill in 2016, Jibril claimed that there was no existing framework “to supervise the mode of operations” of the NGOs. This was deliberately misleading, wrong and inaccurate. It is plainly obtuse.

This adds a sixth to the problems with the bill – overreach. With no hint of modesty, the bill proposes to eviscerate the responsibilities of multiple Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the National Planning Commission; Corporate Affairs Commission; Federal Inland Revenue Service; Customs Service; Immigration Service; EFCC; National Planning Commission; and even the National Emergency Management Agency.

Above all, at a time of poor public finances, it seeks to create yet another pointless parastatal and add to government overheads.

As military ruler in 1984-85, Muhammadu Buhari showed single-minded intolerance for dissent. When he ran again for the Presidency in 2015, he sold himself as a “converted democrat.”

A President and ruling party already under considerable suspicion for intolerance do not need the distraction of this bill. It has already passed first and second readings in the House and has been remitted to committee.

In September, the House Committee on Civil Society will hold a public hearing on the bill. If the committee does not kill the bill, it will label the President and his party as politically toxic at a time that neither of them needs that. This bill deserves to die. And should die!

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu chairs the Council of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law of the Nigerian Bar Association.

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    • Are You Ready for the Storm?
      A storm is coming. The torrential rains shall fall. The waters shall rise. The floods shall sweep away all wood, hay and stubble. The violent winds will blow away all that was built irresponsibly. (Alois_Wonaschuetz)

      A storm is coming. The torrential rains shall fall. The waters shall rise. The floods shall sweep away all wood, hay and stubble. The violent winds will blow away all that was built irresponsibly.

      Are you building your house on the rock or on the sand?

      "Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded a rock. And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it fell. And its fall was great " (Matt. 7:24-27).

      "What sayings of Mine" is Jesus specifically referring to in these passages? Reading in context, Jesus began a lengthy teaching from Matthew 5-7 and the central theme of it seems to be the character of the heart of man—from the Beatitudes, to loving our enemies, to having the right motives in giving, praying and fasting. Then He goes on to teach them about the Father's care for them and not worrying but seeking first the kingdom of God. Finally, Jesus comes to the end of that teaching and speaks about hypocrisy and righteous judgment and reverting back to heart matters followed by a warning of false prophets and those who call Him Lord but don't do His will. This entire teaching is traditionally known as the Sermon on the Mount, and it ends with the parable of the wise and foolish builders.

      This was one of Jesus' first and most foundational teachings. It set the tone for His public ministry. As ministers that is important for us to know. We must emphasize what Jesus emphasized. These sayings prepared the people and His disciples for what was to come. Herein we find the standard of Jesus' life and ministry for all He did and taught. The heart must be right or nothing else will be right. If the heart is not right people won't do what He says. We must build our lives on Jesus' words, especially these first words of the first lengthy sermon He preached.

      Storms Test the Strength of the Foundation

      Jesus was the Master Builder. When it comes to building people, He is our primary example and pattern. The apostle Paul refers to God's people as God's field and God's building (1 Cor. 3:9), and he calls all ministers his fellow laborers who plant and water the field, and who are to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

      The image of the people as a building under construction is very interesting because it highlights the responsibility of ministers to be faithful in how they build. Ministers are like building contractors who are only permitted to build on the prescribed foundation (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15). There are both wise builders and foolish builders (Matt. 7:24-27). To build on the foundation a building of durable material (gold, silver and precious stones) means not only to teach sound doctrine but even more importantly, to be a godly example and live a sanctified life of fidelity to the truth, thus helping to mature the saints. Ministers and especially pastors/shepherds, because they live with the people, teach more by their life example perhaps than anything else.

      On the other hand, to build with perishable material (wood, hay, and stubble) is to provide inadequate or unsound teaching or to compromise the truth by living a lifestyle that contradicts or falls short of modeling it. It is the quality of every builder's work and not the quantity, as seems to be much of the focus today, that shall be tested by fire, for which every builder shall give account to the Lord.

      In Jesus' parable (Matt. 7:24-27) He uses a storm, signifying the pressures, hardships and trials of life, as well as the persecutions we will suffer for the gospel, as a measuring gauge for how solid our foundation is. And what is our foundation based upon? Jesus taught us that it is based upon doing His sayings. Obedience is the issue. ""Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Obedience, not lip service, is what God requires.

      Have you ever thought about what gives us the strength and fuel to obey God? Why are some people obedient and some are not? Why are some doers of the Word and some are not? Why do some people stay faithful to God and remain true while others do not? Why do some start this Christian race but never finish? What is it that causes us to endure to the end (Matt. 24:13)?

      It is the fear of the Lord. Obedience to the Lord is not only proof of your love for Him (John 14:21), but also of your fear of Him. There's been an emphasis on love, although we've fallen short of the full counsel of God in that area, too, but there has not been nearly as much of an emphasis on the fear of the Lord. It takes both of them to produce a strong constitution in your Christian life. Notice in the following two different translations how the love of obedience in Jesus was rooted in the fear of the Lord. They are identical. Or a better way to say it would be that the manifestation of the fear of the Lord is obedience to His Word and His sayings/commandments.

      "His delight is in the fear of the Lord" (Isa. 11:3a, NKJV).

      "He will delight in obeying the Lord" (Isa. 11:3a, NLT).

      I love this verse of Scripture. It feeds and fuels the fear of the Lord in me and the delight to obey Him. This is our sure foundation. Since our obedience is the manifestation of the fear of the Lord in our lives, and since that is the difference between building your house on the rock or on the sand, we then could say that the fear of the Lord is what builds a strong foundation for our houses, which represent our lives. The fear of the Lord produces durable materials in our lives that will strengthen us to stand even in the midst of the storms. Can you see that?

      A house is built by wisdom, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning or the foundation of wisdom/knowledge. Once again, a house represents our lives, homes, families.

      "Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation]" (Prov. 24:3, AMP).

      "Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord" (Prov. 1:7a, CEB).

      "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge" (Prov. 1:7a, NLT).

      If we build our lives and homes on the true wisdom and knowledge of God that comes from the foundation of the fear of the Lord, we need not fear the storm, because we will stand.

      Paul's Great Desire

      One of the apostle Paul's greatest burdens was this very thing: that the people He ministered to would stand firm in their faith and remain obedient to God even in the midst of the troubles and persecutions of his day. Other New Testament writers shared the same burden.

      Paul's great desire was that the people he taught would not falter under pressure, lest his work be useless or his labor be in vain. Notice his great concern for the Thessalonian saints (1 Thess. 3:1-9). He had warned them of the troubles that would soon come. In his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, he warned them of the same troubles (Acts 20:25-31). To the Galatians and the Hebrews he did the same, warning them not to turn back to the Law. He was preparing them for the storm and the persecution they would receive from preaching the cross and paying the price to follow Jesus. Warnings are such a large part of the Scriptural admonition that Paul and the other New Testament writers gave to the churches. Today there is a glaring absence of these warnings in our preaching.

      Here are just some I found in the New Testament: Matthew 7:15, 10:17, 24:4-5, 24:11-13, 24:24; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 12:1, 15; Acts 20:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10:12, 11:3; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 5:6, Philippians 3:2, 18; Colossians 1:28, 2:8; 1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 2:1-3, 4:1; 2 Peter 1:10, 3:17.

      Fellow minister and preacher, how well are you preparing yourself and your people for the storm? Are you teaching them the whole counsel of God or catering to itching ears? Are you including the warnings in your preaching? Are you preaching on only the goodness and mercy of God, or do you also preach on His severity, wrath and judgments? Are you only preaching on the love of God, or do you place emphasis on His holiness too? Do you ever preach on sin and repentance? Are your concepts of the love of God and the grace of God accurate and in accordance with Scripture?

      If not, then you may be guilty of the blood of men: "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not keep from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. .... Therefore watch, remembering that for three years night and day I did not cease to warn everyone with tears" (Acts 20:26-27, 31).

      Make sure you are preparing yourselves and those whom God has entrusted to you for the storm. Oh, how much stronger our churches would be if we included these things in our preaching and teaching and living them out before the people!

      Bert Farias
    • Message from NCEF to all Christians in Nigeria

      It is now clear that if Christians do not organize to actively participate in Governance, the instrument of the State shall be used to progressively decimate the Church until Christianity is eventually “eradicated in all its forms and ramifications” in Nigeria. To avoid this calamity from coming to pass, the NCEF advises all Christians as follows:

      National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF
    • Tell My Church and the Nation to Repent: They Are Not Sincere

      For the Nigerian Church this message is very timely and approriate. Considering the situation we are facing,  what God requires of the Nigerian Chuch to avert disaster is REPENTANCE AND UNITY of the Church.

      Urgency and sincerity are two words  rolling around in my spirit as I write this. With yet another historic event—the senseless killing of now 59 people in Las Vegas—we are being warned as a nation.

      Bert Farias
    • Why You Need to Embrace the Lost Art of Saying "No"

       

      I descended to a whole new low in my parenting a little while ago. In a moment of paternal virtue, I offered an expedition to a local pottery painting shop to my elementary-aged daughter, For a brief moment, I was indeed “Super Dad!” And then came my spectacular fall from grace.

      Drew Williams
    • SUNSHINE OVER THE NIGERIAN CHURCH – Christian Leadership Meeting  

       Christian Leaders unanimously declare support for CAN Trust Fund … urge immediate announcement in all Churches and contribution by all Christians

      Sunshine over Nig 3

      Nigerian Christian leaders held a crucial meeting today (Tuesday 7th November, 2017) at the Sherpherdhill Baptist Church, Lagos, to deliberate on crucial issues affecting the Nigerian Church and the Nation. In attendance was the President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Olasupo Samson Ayokunle, the immediate past President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Prof. Joseph Otubu, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, Prelate Samuel Kanu Uche (the Prelate of Methodist Church), Pastor E. A. Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude, Rev. Dr. Caleb Ahima, Pastor Paul Enenche, Pastor David Ibiyeomie, Pastor Emmanuel Nuhu Kure, Bishop Wale Oke, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Baba Aladura Elder (Dr.) Bob-Manuel, Dr. Napo Emuchay, Apostle Alex Bamgbola, heads of CAN, heads of denominations and ministries, as well as States and Local Government Chairmen of CAN, and heads of Christian Fellowships. Christian Groups like Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) and Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship were also present and spoke at the Conference.

      The meeting, which started with opening prayer by Rev. Father Matthew Ogunyase, condemned in strong words the Islamization Agenda being pursued by the Federal Government of Nigeria, using State resources. The President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, delivered a strong paper stating facts and figures in support of the unequivocal stand of the Church that there is an Islamization Agenda going on in Nigeria.

      The paper of the President of CAN condemned the unbridled and lawless attacks of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen on Christians and Christian communities, the violation of the Constitution of Nigeria with regards to membership in OIC, Islam in Africa Organization, Saudi Arabia led Islamic Coalition against Terror, the violation of the Federal Character Principle in Federal appointments by the current Administration in favor of Muslims from the North, the lawless and unconstitutional use of State resources to sponsor Jaiz Bank (Islamic Bank) and the use of State resources to float Sukkuk Bond. The floating of Sukkuk Bond in Nigeria is illegal and unconstitutional to the extent that State resources were deployed to establish it.

       sunshine over Nig 4

      The President of CAN also refuted claims by Christians in the Buhari Administration that there is no Islamic Agenda warning that Christians should be careful not to jeopardize their faith in exchange for temporary appointment in Government. He insisted that the instrument of the State is being used to sponsor an Islamization Agenda without due consideration and regards to the rights of other citizens in Nigeria who are not Muslims. He made copious reference to the Abuja Declarations 1989 of the Islam in Africa Organization (IAO) and the OIC strategy meeting in London in 1983 where decisions were taken to destroy Christianity in Nigeria and convert the nation into an Islamic State.

      The meeting called on the National Assembly to publish the list of all international organizations that Nigeria belongs to and insisted that Nigeria must withdraw from every international organization that is based on religion in compliance with Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution.

      The Christian leaders also expressed grave misgivings over the current discrimination in the North, particularly in the so called “Sharia states” where Churches are not given Certificate of Occupancy to access land to construct places of worship for Christians. The Church leaders wondered why such discrimination should exist in the country if truly all the citizens are one. They urged an immediate reversal of this obnoxious discrimination based on religious intolerance.

      CHURCH LEADERS DECLARE TOTAL SUPPORT FOR CAN TRUST FUND

      Speaking one after the other, the Christian leaders called for Unity of all the Christians and the need for every Christian to support Christian Association of Nigeria. To strengthen CAN and make it more effective, all the Christian leaders supported the CAN Trust Fund and urged all Christians to contribute monthly to support it. Pastor Adeboye in particular, decried the lack of funds in CAN and the fire brigade approach of soliciting funds whenever the Church has critical needs. He advised that if all the Christians would contribute N500 per month, or at the very least N100 monthly, to the CAN Trust Fund, there would be a steady flow of funding that would be used to serve the interest of the Church. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo and all the other Church leaders present spoke one after the other in support of the CAN Trust Fund and urged all the Christians to pool resources together to make CAN stronger.

      sunshine Over Nig 5

      The Trustees of the CAN Trust Fund also spoke during the meeting and assured the Church leaders of accountability and transparency of the funds. The Trustees gave assurance that the funds shall well managed and used in the interest of the Church.

      A ten point Communiqué was issued by the Church leaders after the Conference.

      Bosun

       

      CAN TRUST FUND

      GTBank

      02 20 39 08 38

      CAN TRUST FUND

      Zenith Bank

      10 13 99 45 95

      CAN TRUST FUND

      UBA

      10 20 00 57 52

      www.canng.org

      This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

       

      Karis
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