EU-ACT BENCHMARKING PEER LEARNING SESSION: Challenges Facing Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Working on Human Rights in the European Union (EU)

The peer learning session which was held at the Advocacy Centre’s office on Tuesday, 25th of January 2022 was led by Mr. Fyneface Dumnamene and Mr. Philip Kalio. The topics for discussion first and foremost was on the “Challenges of CSOs regulatory compliance,” and secondly “CSOs board membership constitution and challenges of board members meeting up with their statutory commitment to the organization.” The meeting had in attendance nine CSOs, of which Centre for Creative Development Strategies- CCDS was represented in the peer learning session.

The peer learning session is to strengthen the key holders and CSOs on whatever the vision and the mission they plan out to do. The European Union (EU) main thematic/core values is Credibility. The EU went from training CSOs, to coaching, to funding, and finally to peer learning sessions all in the bit to strengthen CSOs capacity. The peer learning session is all about learning from other CSOs, and if necessary, include it as part of Action Plan in the various organization each member represent. This act was funded by EU and implemented by the British Council.

In the introduction, issues that were raised up in the challenges concerning the CSOs regulatory compliance are: lack of information, lack of trustworthiness and failure to communicate properly. Governments are to seek a new form of partnership with CSOs aimed at identifying, vetting and scaling up social innovations to build more flexible, less entrenched and public responses.

The challenges facing the “Legal Analysis of the Companies and Allied Matters ACT (CAMA) 2020 was presented by Mr. Fyneface. He walked members of each CSOs present through the 1990 and 2020 CAMA laws.  The old CAMA law, under part C, the minimum Board of Trustees (BOT) NGOs can have is one or more. While in the new CAMA, the law stated that NGOs are under part F, and the minimum Board of Trustees that is required is two or more. One of the major things that changed as part of the new CAMA 2020 is that a new NGO that is almost the same with an existing NGO will be asked to merge as one, including all the BOTs in different places but will act under one name. Most importantly, NGOs are to report to CAC thrice yearly on their finances.

Some of the major key concerns in the revised CAMA 2020 is that NGOs must endeavour to secure their account records for the last six years. However, in order to comply with the new CAMA, the solutions given to us are that, CSOs should employ a Compliance Officer and AML/CFT Compliance Officer in other to work in compliance with every regulatory framework.

Suggestions raised by one of the CSOs, who is also the Executive Director of Centre for Creative Development Strategies (CCDS) is that when constructing BOTs, there should be in place WhatsApp group for Members of the board, Zoom meetings with BOTs, One or two physical meetings with BOTs, Resource mobilization, and last but not the least, and most importantly, getting all the members to sign an agreement letter of confidentiality. One of the CSOs also suggested that every board members of each organization should work with an objective of the organization to meet with the goals of the organization in other to move forward.

Another peer learning session was conducted on Thursday, 27th of January 2022 at Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) office. Seven CSOs were in attendance, with two members each representing their CSOs. The meeting was spearheaded by Mr. Temple who gave some introductions about the European Union and their intentions to help CSOs build their capacity to strengthen each networks. The topic was Organizational and Financial Sustainability, presented by Mr Michael Chidozie. The matter discussed was on financial reports and policies, and the strategic ways in which they get grants whenever there is a call for proposal (RFP). In the last twenty-three years of CEHRD’s existence, they have built their strength on personal development, proposal development, step down trainings, monthly and quarterly meetings, annual retreat, and ways they manage their networks to strengthen their capacity for sustainable development.

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