â€¢ Withdraw proposed legislation or lose our support, Kogi youths tell lawmaker
James Emejo in Abuja and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, in his welcome remarks at plenary after the lower legislative chamber resumed from its summer recess, has expressed the determination of the House to pass the NGO Regulation Bill which had been opposed by sections of the public.
He said contrary to some misconceptions, the bill will inject transparency, accountability and prevent the subversion of national security from both within and without.
He said: â€œNo one can nor indeed should gag the operations of NGOs in Nigeria, but just as they aspire for this freedom, it must be stated that freedom does not come without responsibility as there is no such thing as freedom to be irresponsible.
â€œThere are also desperate attempts to instigate religious bodies and cultural organisations to oppose the bill by spreading falsehood that they are the target of this bill. For the avoidance of doubt, let me state once again that churches, mosques, esussu, market women associations as well as local quasi financial institutions are not-for -profit NGOs and thus the bill has nothing to do with their operations .
â€œThe legislative process cannot be short circuited. The National Assembly cannot be intimidated into abandoning its sacred legislative duties of providing a platform for Nigerians to agree or disagree on any proposed legislative measure. This openness and transparency is what the NGOs have always canvassed and promoted and they should therefore embrace this opportunity to interrogate the issues with open arms.â€
The bill has passed second reading and is at committee stage in the House.
Dogara said: â€œPublic criticism of the content of the bill is a welcome development and there are many who are doing just that. Indeed it is the reason why every bill is subjected to public hearing so that the inputs of stakeholders can be obtained to ensure public buy in.
â€œI hasten to say that all Nigerians and other corporate persons including non Nigerians, are stakeholders and have a right to support or oppose a bill. However, when opinions are targeted at disparaging the institution of the legislature then it becomes imperative to interrogate the motives driving such, especially when this emanates from those who should know.â€
Meanwhile, some concerned youths in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, have called onÂ Hon. Buba Jibril, member representing Lokoja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, to urgently withdraw his bill against non governmental organisations (NGOs) or lose the peopleâ€™s support.
The spokesman of the youths,Â Mallam Umar Danasabe Mohammad, who is the Executive Director, Youth Emancipation for the Society, described the bill as undemocratic, coming at a time when people are seeking for opportunities through NGOs to contribute their quota to the socioeconomic development of the country.
Umar made this known yesterday at an interactive workshop of Four Successful and Positive Role Models to youths who grew out of similarly challenged communities to become successful in life in Lokoja, and was organised by Trees on Earth Development Foundation, working in Partnership with CLEEN Foundation.
He called for the immediate withdrawal of the bill by Hon Jibril, noting that the bill is anti-people, and aimed at strangulating NGOs.
Umar called on the sponsor of the bill to focus on bills that would provide jobs, improve the wellbeing of people, rather than concern himself with bills that are unpopular, anti people, anti-democratic.
The youths who described failure to withdraw the bill as going to incur the wrath of youths from the constituency, urged the lawmaker not to test their will to recall him, if by chance he fails to do the needful.
Earlier in a welcome remarks, Moses Adedeji, Executive Director, Trees on Earth Development Foundation, said though communities might continue to be inundated with violence and insecurity, the power of influence which a challenged community can wield on young people by role models can change the narratives.
The Executive Director of TEDF urged the youths to make the vision and experience of positive role models, challenging them to Â rise above the challenges of what their communities might provide them today, noting that with hardworking and focus, the will be successful in life.
Adedeji appealed to the youths to stand up and be counted in the campaign against radicalisation, indoctrination, drug abuse, cultism, terrorism ,thuggery and other related vices, noting that as future leaders, what they need to succeed is vision, resilience and determination.
Â Highlight of the workshop was four role models, Alexander Abu, a Chartered Accountant, Ahmed Shehu, Magistrate, Mrs. Janet Makun, a lawyer, and Nihi Oladele, Kogi State National Youth Council Chairman, making presentations, tasking the youths not to allow their similarly challenged community to discourage them from hardwork and determination.
They also advised them to stay off violence, radicalisation and indoctrination.