Chairman, TY Danjuma Foundation, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma
The TY Danjuma Foundation recently took up the responsibility of ensuring that Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) live above board in service delivery. This they sought to achieve by bringing together NGOs for capacity building, to ensure that they fill in the gap in government services, in the interest of sustainability in Nigeria; Amaka Eze reports
The need for organised non-profit operations in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised; this is more so in view of the fact that the public and private sectors alone cannot begin to drive the country to its deserved destination of greatness.
This brings to the fore, the not-for-profit sector in the country, which has been described as the ‘Third Sector’.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), known for their mission of offering services to members of the society independently from any government, have carved a niche for themselves as able drivers for community mobilisation and development in the Nigerian society.
The gradual emergence of these indigenous foundations, philanthropic and charitable organisations clearly demonstrates the fact that the country is indeed ready for the third sector to contribute its quota to national development.
The establishment of NGOs over the years has therefore continued to attract the attention of thousands. Traditionally, they operate independently from any government and are not conventional for profit business. They also exist in some cases to further the political and social goals of their members or funders.
Roles of NGOs
In line with what obtains in other jurisdictions, the nation’s NGOs also address varieties of issues such as religion, emergency aid, or humanitarian affairs.
They mobilise public support and voluntary contributions for aid; they often have strong links with community groups in developing countries, and they often work in areas where government-to-government aid is not readily possible.
Overtime, NGOs have become accepted as a part of the international relations landscape, influencing national and multilateral policy-making. Increasingly they are more directly involved in local action as it affects the people.
As good as the concept of NGOs seems to be, some individuals however see the platform as a meal ticket and way out of poverty, thus use funds and grants from donor agencies to build personal houses, buy exotic cars, while those for whom the monies were donated are allowed to wallow in abject poverty.
The TY Danjuma Foundation, out of the desire to drive home the expectations of this sector, organised a recent training in Lagos tagged ‘Capacity Building for Effective Service Delivery’, which was designed to train NGOs to be better positioned to deliver services to deserving communities with greater accountability.
The need for the training stemmed from the discovery of capacity gaps in organisational sustainability in the areas of proposal writing; project implementation reporting; financial accountability; monitoring and evaluation; and effective organisational management.
TY Danjuma Foundation’s conviction is that Nigeria’s non-profit sectors can positively contribute to creating awareness and strengthening communities for sustained development; although the objective is in no way to do the work of government, but to instead catalyse action from both the public and private sectors.
This is why the Foundation believes that partnering with communities and government is cardinal to achieving this objective.
The two-day training exercise, dedicated the first day to Executive Directors and Chief Executive Officers of the Foundations grantees, some NGOs that applied for grants but could not make it due to technical or other reasons, and heads of foundations and other grant making organisations operating in the country.
The major points of focus of the training was the need for NGOs in the country to ensure effective spending of revenue from local and international donors agencies, while the other was how to effectively manage projects.
Need for Improvement
The Chief Executive Officer of TY Danjuma Foundation Mrs. Thelma Ekiyor, while lamenting the country’s under-development, said NGOs must team up with the government to accelerate the country’s development level.
According to her, the TY Danjuma foundation is strongly determined to contribute towards the building capacity of NGOs, grant-makers, philanthropic and other charitable organisations towards sustainable development in the country.
Ekiyor said that the need for organised non-profit operations in Nigeria cannot be opposed because the pubic and private sectors alone cannot drive the country to its deserved destination of greatness.
“Nigerian NGOs have carved a niche for themselves as able driver for community mobilisation and development. The emergence of indigenous foundation and philanthropic and charitable organisations clearly demonstrates the fact that the country is indeed ready for the third sector to contribute its quote to national development,” she said.
Ekiyor added that the capacity building programme organised train NGOs to be better positioned to deliver services to deserving communities with greater accountability, adding that the foundation was further motivated to train the NGOs due to the discovery of capacity gap in organisational sustainability country.
“TY Danjuma conviction is that Nigeria’s non-profit sector can contribute immensely to creating awareness and strengthening communities for sustained development, the objective is in no way to do the work of government, but instead catalyse action from both the public and private sectors.
“That is why the foundation believes that partnership with communities and government is cardinal to achieving this objective,” Ekiyor added.
Describing the capacity building as a project worth the stress, Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, noted that developmental challenges in the country and the role of NGOs are interwoven.
According to Igbuzor, Nigeria despite its huge natural and human resources has remained underdeveloped because of its stagnated economy. “In a situation where the country lacks visionary leadership to fast track developmental programmes, NGOs must be able to rise to the occasion and fill the gap,” he said.
Urging NGOs to look beyond spending money from donor agencies to solve problems, Igbuzor said the organisations should look towards partnering and mounting pressure on government to bring about rapid development in the economy especially in the rural environments.
“A society where every individual potential can be realised in conditions characterised by the capacity to obtain physical necessities (particularly food), employment, equality, participation in government, political and economic independence, adequate education, women equality, sustainable development and peace must be included in the agenda of the NGOs
“NGOs can play a catalytic role in accelerating the development of Nigeria through capacity building, advocacy, campaigns and engagement. They can promote civic engagement, foster interaction between citizens, associations and other institutions to ensure that public institutions reflect the will of the people and are accountable to them,” Igbuzor said.
A resource person from Management Alternatives Limited, Akubo Adegbe, said the issue of sustainability was key for the NGOs to remain afloat for a long time to carry out their responsibilities.
Adegbe reasoned that good strategic plans embarked upon by the NGOs must be backed by an appropriate financial strategy, and noted that the strategy must look at the operating environment, the position of the organisation, the funding streams available, the cost of getting the funds and the funding mix that can sustain the organisation.
“Sustainable funding means that you have income to substantially finance your mission even with limited external funding. It means moving beyond the comfort zone to establish and secure new sources of funding, to ‘not have all your eggs in one basket. It is your ability to ask yourself how you intend to continue to provide services when the grant runs out,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Rivers State Community Foundation, Mr. Eric Osita, said grassroots development advocated for by NGOs usually provides opportunities for people in rural communities to gain skills and leadership abilities necessary to work together for long term transformative change.
“Grassroots development programme when properly implemented with support from NGO inspires people and strengthen communities. It provides communication, enhances community based effort, and networking, and makes provisions for the use of services to transform communities, and assist communities in every way possible to achieve positive sustainable change,” he affirmed.
The secretary stated that the Rivers State Community Foundation is a World Bank funded initiative with the approval of the Federal and Rivers State Governments, and pointed out that the foundation commenced operations since July 2009.
“The Foundation, the first of its kind in Nigeria was set up as a pilot project to intervene as conflict resolution tool in the restive Niger Delta region. Of the nine states of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria, Rivers State was chosen for the project” he said.
Osita explained that the major objective of the Foundation has been to support development activities by a broad range of individuals and local organisations through grants, noting that it has also maintained funds to support grant making.
He said the organisation does not only mobilise resources from private and public sources, but instil confidence in communities through reviving traditional philanthropic practices.
Despite the sins of the NGOs, Osita opined that the organisations serve as a catalyst and agent of change in enhancing sustainable development in the communities where they operate.