Spaces for Change resists regulatory bill that could shrink civil society in Nigeria

Publish Date: 
Monday, November 13, 2017

Spaces for Change (S4C), a youth-based nonprofit organization aimed at increasing engagement of all Nigerians in decision-making processes, has been active in opposing a recent NGO Regulatory Bill in Nigeria.

The Bill seeks to set up a federal called the NGO Regulatory Commission to regulate the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs). The scope of organizations that would fall under its purview include: media organizations, religious movements, social movements, rotary clubs and any organization that is involved in charitable operations.  

According to S4C, current worrisome provisions of the Bill include: onerous registration timelines for CSO, and widened government authority to accept or decline CSO applications by simply citing conflicts with Nigeria’s national interest.

Currently, the Bill is at the public hearing stage and Spaces for Change is amongst many other nonprofit organization resisting this bill. A growing coalition of Nigerians and civil society organizations are uniting around a shared analysis that this bill aims to close civic spaces, destroy dissent and stifle free speech.

Spaces for Change has also equipped their advocacy efforts against this Bill by monitoring the trend of diminishing civic spaces in Nigeria. Their intensive research work has tracked 103 instances of the government imposing restrictions on civil and political rights in Nigeria in a span of just two years.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian government’s push to close civil spaces is part of a greater global trend. Israel, Kenya and Uganda have proposed similar “NGO regulation” projects to dampen government dissent, while Egypt and India, among other countries, have already adopted laws governing NGOs, to the detriment of independent civil society groups.

Access this Closing Spaces database.

Watch Victoria Ohaeri of Spaces for Change expresses concerns over the Bill.

Listen to Spaces for Change Director Victoria Ohaeri debate the Bill on a popular Nigerian radio show.