Dear Nonprofit Leader,
As we reflect on the sector in 2018, we think about how the work you have done in communities across the country have touched and inspired hope in the less privileged. We have been most influenced by your resilience, empathy for the downtrodden and found motivation in how you are doing so much with very little resources.
Twenty-seven years ago, when our founding mothers and fathers first began to work on the idea that would become the Nigeria Network of NGOs, they were convinced as much as we are now, that nonprofits play an important role in the fabrics of our development and democracy as a nation. They believed that the resources and approaches of the sector if well leveraged by government and the private sector can have a bigger impact together in the attainment of our national development goals than in silos.
They imagined a Network that can improve the operational environment for nonprofits to thrive. In the last 5 years we have had the opportunity of translating this imagination to reality through our sustained engagement with the executive and legislative arms of Government on the operations of nonprofits. In May 2018, we were proud to see the results of our work in the repeal and reenactment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) which included our recommendations for the review of the Part C which is now Part F of CAMA in the version passed by the Senate.
As we look into 2019, three key challenges stand out for our sector, testing our values.
Our ability as a sector to remain non-partisan
With the 2019 elections only few weeks away, our sector will need to balance its strong links to beneficiaries and more generally to the bottom billion, high level command of public trust and confidence with the political preferences of nonprofit leaders. It is essential to note that nonprofits cannot give their support to a political party or candidate. How our sector manages itself especially in demarcating between activism, advocacy campaign and political campaign will be tested in 2019 and will serve as a benchmark for the 2023 elections.
Civil Society Diversity
Our differences in opinion, perspectives and understanding of issues while an asset will continue to test our common stand on issues such as rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association. We are witnessing a growing trend in our inability to stand up for each other and to clearly define what the protection of civic space means to our sector and our organisations. Our sector will be challenged on how it responds (collectively) to the arrest and prosecution of human right defenders especially those perceived to have political affiliations and interests including how we rally support for nonprofit organisations (local and international) that may be labelled or victimized as anti-government for their work on protecting the rights of the disadvantaged.
Civil society, being an array of organisations outside of government and private sector, derives its strength from the family unit. Our beliefs and thoughts on family planning will shape how as organisations and leaders we support the need for Nigeria to focus energies on managing its population dynamics through improved funding by the Federal, State and Local Governments to family planning programmes- allocated from their domestic resources. It is increasingly clear that our rate of population growth will continue to lead to hunger, malnutrition, housing shortage, inequality and increased crime rate. Our sector will be challenged by how civil society actors, influencers, leaders and institutions within civil society understand the role of family planning in attaining the SDGs and in coalescing around initiatives that call for increased funding to family planning programmes and services.
Addressing these challenges will be our focus in 2019 at the Nigeria Network of NGOs. Rallying sector leaders around proffering solutions to these challenges, navigating through their wisdom, integrity and influence including coalescing for better results and impacts are the key successes we want to see in 2019.
Certainly, this will be a “long walk to freedom”. We are confident that with you, the journey will be short, adventurous as well as challenging; but in the end, VICTORY WILL BE CERTAIN.
Thank you for coming with us on this journey!
Oyebisi, B. Oluseyi
Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs.