Image courtesy of sufenwang.com
If you take a look as the amount of Nigerians seeking to ’blow’ just from owning and starting up charitable organizations and NGOs in Nigeria, you would be amazed at how degraded the term charitable organizations has become in the country.
Businessdictionary.com defines a charitable organization as an incorporated or non-incorporated tax exempt body which (1) is created and operated for charitable purposes, (2) employs all its resources to those charitable activities that are under its direct control, (3) does not distribute any part of the income generated for the benefit of any trustee, trustor, member, or other private individual, and (4) does not contribute to or associates with political organizations.
The above definition shows that the aim of charities is mainly philanthropy and every other form of giving back to society but down here, the reverse is the case – taking from the society in the guise of NGO, foundations and those other fancy names they give to these
money making ventures nonprofit organizations. A critical look
on some of these supposed charities or NGOs would reveal that they are not
different from most for-profit organizations; they appear on the surface as a
group established for humanitarian, religious or philanthropic causes but
underneath, the ‘business’ goes on.
In a January 2012 article on Thisday newspaper titled Sustaining NGOs for Effective Service Delivery, Amaka Eze wrote, “As good as the concept of NGOs seems to be, some individuals however see the platform as a meal ticket and way out of poverty, thus use funds and grants from donor agencies to build personal houses, buy exotic cars, while those for whom the monies were donated are allowed to wallow in abject poverty.”
Someone was talking to me about trying to “help” a female friend (he was also interested in dating her) and he used these words, “Imagine the girl I was trying to help better her life. I was talking to her about looking for a name, starting up an NGO after which I’d introduce her to one or two people and from there, things would be better but she is misbehaving.” From every indication, “things would be better” as used by this young man could pass for: she’d make money, fame etc . There are a lot of Nigerians who are like this young man, they see starting up charities as a form of business venture – an escape from being broke or a source of income. From politicians who start or own them just to garner votes during elections, as objects of campaign, as tools to harness theft and misappropriation of public funds to celebrities who own them just to stay in the news, sometimes without even being concerned with the activities of the organizations for instance, every year, new queens emerge (as either Miss Nigeria or one of the other Misses in the numerous pageantries available today) and part of their projects is establishing charities that would cater a particular humanitarian need in the society but the twist is this: most of these charities either ceases to exist or become non-operational after a while or would only exist for the duration of the supposed queen’s reign. Why start it in the first place?!
Charitable organizations has been toyed with, misused and abused in Nigeria. In other parts of the world, there are charity regulators ie a group that sees that these charities are managed effectively and operated within their legal framework but I doubt if there is any like that here in the country because I’m yet to see or hear of any.
To ensure proper practice and regulation in the Third sector, a body should be created solely for seeing to the establishment and regulations of these charities (if none is in existence already)and if there is a regulating body, I think they are not just doing their job as it should be done because if handled properly, they (Charities or NGO’s) contribute to the nation’s economy and therefore shouldn’t be left for those who have decided to make money from any possible means or who see every single venture as a tool for their political antics.
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