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Nigerian Network of NGOs celebrates silver jubilee in grand style in Lagos

The Nigerian Network of NGOs, NNNGO, a coalition of not-for-profit organisations in the country yesterday rolled out the drums and brass band to celebrate 25 years of advocacy against poverty, pestilence, human rights abuses and natural disasters. The 17th Annual Anniversary of the Network attracted scores of NGOs, distinguished personalities and agencies in the public sector.

In her Anniversary remarks, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ms. Laure Beaufils, commended the organisation for standing up to the tyranny of power, adding that citizens groups were vital for the socio-economic health of the country. She noted that citizens groups were responsible for the Arab Spring of 2011. She charged NGOs operating in the country to be transparent, accountable, enthrone feedback mechanism in their operations and continually engage in self-criticism to better themselves.

Beaufils further urged the advocacy groups to develop focus in a small area to be impactful and not to rely on donors-funding alone for support. “Try to look inwards, nimble and flexible”, she noted. She called on NGOs to continue to engage with policy makers and build networks, adding that no societal change is possible without strong and vibrant civil society organisations. She disclosed that the United Kingdom was committing about twenty five million pounds in the 2017/2018 budget to the social sector.

In his opening address, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of NNNGO, Mr. Olufemu Lijadu, said in the last 25 years, the group haf become the conscience of communities and ” ensuring the permanent presence of civil society in setting both national and international agendas for development”. The chairman added that getting the right people to engage in the work had been the most challenging aspect:
“Without the right people, institutions are only a framework into which women and men will have to instill life.”

He called for unremitting vigour and steadfastness in bringing development to the doorsteps of the common man, noting that the anniversary celebrations underscored the fact that NNNGO had become an indispensable nonprofit with regional and international affiliations with the aim of improving people’s lives.

In her address, the founding Executive Director of NNNGO, Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti (YRK) disclosed that the idea for the group was muted by the late Professor Olikoye Ramsome-Kuti when he was minister of health. She observed that through the need to find answers to the challenges of immunisation, drug and substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, the young group sin blossomed holding meetings with the DFID, UNICEF, USAID in an effort to integrate the development plan of the federal government with that of the 3rd sector.

Going down memory lane, she said when the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, was established and coopted into the work, the NGOs were then sidelined. YRK advocated the need to define human rights within the ambit of responsibility and called on citizens to jettison their party affiliations which support well-known crooks to voting the right people into office.

Another member of the Board, Dr. Abiola Tilley-Gyado, narrated how, in 1981/82, Professor Ransome-Kuti invited her to take over the National Aids Control Programme. In carrying out the assignment, she and YRK used her drawer at her 9th floor office at the federal ministry of health, Ikoyi, Lagos.

“Triple NGO has a strong foundation, mushrooming and impactful, reaching out to other areas,” she opined. Dr. Tilley-Gyado called for a redoubling of efforts to demonstrate competence, critical self devaluation and engage government in a positive way to achieve results.

In his goodwill message, Otunba Dele Ajayi-Smith called for the setting up of the ministry to take charge of the 3rd sector. He urged stakeholders to be united to continue to push on with the ideals of the group for many years to come.

The Triple NGO Executive Director, Mr. Oyebisi Oluseyi, in his reoort, said the NNNGO had grown from a modest 60 organisations at inception to more than 2400 in 2017, “convening the largest gathering of nonprofits in Africa.” He said the famous NGO regulation bill was dead on arrival and called on sister organisations to sustain the tempo by protesting the incursions of politicians. He admitted that, indeed, there were charlatans in the sector, but not to the extent of dissuading the active contributions of persons who use their personal resources to lift the condition of man. He cautioned the regulatory authorities not to “disable but to enable the NGOs to transparently conduct their affairs”. Mr. Oluseyi thanked the sponsors of the event, the International Center for Nonprofit Law and the United Bank for Africa, UBA, for 20 years of unfettered partnership.