The House of Representatives is presently considering what perhaps qualifies as the most dangerous piece of legislation to come before the National Assembly since the return of civilian rule in 1999. It is the NGO Regulation Bill sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Umar Buba Jibril. The bill is stunning in its audacity, far-reaching in its scope and a danger to the elective government in Nigeria. It should not be allowed to pass.
There is a context to this NGO Regulation Bill which is important. It comes at a time when the Federal Government, led by the same party whose parliamentary caucus Jibril leads in the House, has signalled enthusiasm and desire to establish a commission to regulate social media content. This, despite the fact that a similar measure previously sponsored by Jibril’s counterpart as the Deputy Majority Leader in the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, had earlier failed to pass muster. Around many states of the country, social media activists are routinely persecuted. With the active encouragement of the Federal Government and the ruling party, free expression is being chilled and dissent criminalised.