LCCI’s Comments on NGO Bill

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 20 December 2017 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LCCI] is worried over the draft NGO Bill presently under consideration in the National Assembly. It a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of a Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission for the supervision, coordination, and monitoring of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and for related matters in Nigeria.  This proposition has far-reaching implications for the advocacy roles and responsibilities of private sector bodies in the country.

Some of the ominous provisions of the draft bill are that:

  • All non-governmental organisations, national, local international, town unions, associations (etc) in Nigeria must register with the Commission and be licensed for a renewable period of two years.
  • All NGOs annual workplan and budgets must be approved by the Commission before implementation.
  • Assets including motor vehicles used to build the capacity of an NGO must be done through the Commission. All organizational vehicles must be branded even in crises prone areas.
  • The Minister can direct the Commission to sanction, punish or withdraw the license of any of the NGO.
  • Once any organization does anything against government interest or position, such organisations’ license will be withdrawn.

The LCCI, which was founded in 1888 [some 129 years ago] has been a leading player in the economic and business policy advocacy space.   The Chamber had made valuable inputs into policy conception and formulation processes since the colonial times.

Advocacy is a critical component of a virile democracy.  The NGOs and civil society organizations are a stabilizing force in the Nigerian polity.  They are platforms through which the citizens freely express themselves to promote the cause of inclusion and participation in the democratic process.  Many economic, social and political policies have been shaped inputs from NGOs and civil society organizations.  The NGO Regulatory Bill is clearly not consistent with democratic ideals and  values.

Many important and critical policy reforms were the result of very active advocacy by the private sector bodies.  We have seen reforms at sectoral and macroeconomic levels which were outcomes of the unrelenting voice of the Nigerian private sector organizations.  Such reforms have not only benefited the economy but have impacted the citizens positively.  Some of these reforms initiatives are evident in the Telecommunications sector, infrastructure development, interest rate policy and incentives for critical sectors of the economy; the foreign exchange policy; trade policy to advance the interests of domestic investors and many more.  The NGO bill [in its present form] will, without doubt, stifle and repress advocacy initiatives of the private sector organizations.

Besides, the Nigerian Civil Society organizations and NGOs have made incredible sacrifices through rigorous advocacy to promote the ideals of transparency, democratic governance, social and political reforms.  The outcomes of these advocacy activities have been largely beneficial to the Nigerian state, and even the political class.  They led the way to keep the military at bay in political governance and enthroned democracy.  They were a critical part of the struggle that put an end to military incursion into political governance.

We, therefore, request the National Assembly to discontinue the consideration of the bill in the interest of Nigerian democracy, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and equity in governance.  Already there are adequate regulatory and institutional frameworks to make the NGOs and civil Society Organizations accountable and operate within the limits of the law.  There is the Companies and Allied Matters Act as well as the Money Laundering Act, which have robust provisions to ensure that the NGOs conduct their affairs in a manner consistent with the Nigerian laws.  Besides, donor agencies have strict accountability and transparency systems and processes that guide the utilization of donor funds by beneficiaries.  What needs to be done is to strengthen existing regulatory and institutional frameworks for the oversight of the NGOs and Civil society organizations if there are genuine worries over the activities of some of them.

Muda Yusuf
Director General
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

SOURCE
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Investigative Activities of The National Assembly and Implications for The Private Sector and The Economy

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 13 August 2017 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LCCI] appreciates the constitutional role of the National Assembly in the promotion of good governance and the advancement of the principle of checks and balances in the polity. We note in particular the responsibility of oversight and investigations as prescribed under sections 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution.  However, we request that these investigative powers be exercised with greater discretion to avoid distraction to private sector players, erosion of investors confidence and collateral damage to the economy.

The LCCI believes, and in fact promotes, the ideals of high ethical standards in the business and would not condone or support infractions against the statutory laws by private sector entities.  However, we would like to see a legislative – private sector interface characterized by mutual respect, fairness, and courtesy.  The LCCI accordingly submits as follows:

  • Allegations and petitions received by the national assembly about infractions by the private sector should be properly verified for credibility before presenting such to the media. The most recent of such public pronouncements was the alleged N30 trillion revenue loss, and missing 288 vessels by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise, Tariffs and Marine Transport.  63 firms were accused of complicity in the alleged scam. These are grave allegations that needed to be subjected to proper scrutiny before going public.  The implications for the nations image and foreign investors’ perception are severe.
  • The listing of the names of corporate organizations in the media over allegations that are not yet proven has considerable reputational cost and collateral damage to such companies. It has weighty consequences for the brand equity of such organizations.
  • The frequency of summons of corporate organizations by the National Assembly [most of which are in Lagos and other locations outside Abuja] has significant financial implications for such organizations – cost of flight, the cost of hotels and other logistics for appearing before the national assembly.
  • The Executive Time committed to appearance before committees of the national assembly is enormous. This is even more so when most of the Committees would insist that appearance should be at the level of the CEOs of the companies.
  • There is a need for the summons to be focused on specific infractions rather than generic charges of infractions.
  • Statutory agencies of government are most often the custodians of some of the information that the private sector is often required to provide to support legislative investigations. It is more cost effective to access these information from these agencies of government.
  • The notice for appearance are often very short. This has serious disruptive effects on the operations of private sector players in the economy.
  • Where the information demanded are many, we request that ample time be given for such to be gathered. For instance, the current investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise, Tariffs and Marine Transport covers 10years – 20016 to 2017, covering all export and import transactions of companies over the period.  This naturally requires ample time to put together and present.
  • There is a need to streamline the summons and public hearings to avoid duplications and overlap between the Senate and House of Reps. It is also imperative for the leadership of the national assemble to vet the summons by its committees to ensure efficiency, cost effectiveness and optimization of executive time committed to the public hearings.  This is important when we realize that we have 89 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives and 59 Standing Committees in the Senate.
  • Matters that can be investigated by the statutory agencies of government such as the Judiciary, the EFCC, the ICPC, the FIRS, the National Industrial Court, the Nigeria Customs Service should be referred to such institutions. These bodies have better competences, capacities, and structures for investigation of infringements of the law. This would enable the National Assembly to focus on its core duties of representation and law making.

The LCCI appreciates the role of the senate in ensuring the enactment of enabling laws and review of obsolete legislations to create an enabling environment for investors. We note in particular the senate initiatives under the aegis National Assembly Business Roundtable [NASSBER].  Other organs of the national assembly should take a cue from this laudable initiative.

At a time like these, the economy needs investors to boost job creation and accelerate the economic recovery process.  The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan [ERGP] deliverables are anchored largely on the private sector.  The national assembly should align with this by reducing avoidable distractions to investors in the economy.

SOURCE
Muda Yusuf
Director General
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

MEDIA CONTACT

Heads of State and business leaders to gather once again in Sharm El Sheikh for Africa 2017

Over 1,000 delegates expected during the three-day Africa 2017 forum to discuss and collaborate on African trade and investment

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AudioAge – Cairo, Egypt – 02 August 2017 – The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and COMESA Regional Investment Agency announced today the holding of Africa 2017 (www.BusinessForAfricaForum.com), a high-level forum offering participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within Africa. The Forum will be held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on 7-9 December 2017, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The three-day conference will convene high-level delegations of leaders in business and policy from across Africa and worldwide, including heads of state and some of the most important CEOs of the continent.

Africa 2017 will kick-off with a Young Entrepreneurs Day (YED) that will bring together emerging entrepreneurs with more established ones, in addition to mentors, start-up hubs, angel investors and venture capital firms, to share ideas, network and help drive further the business ideas of tomorrow. The Africa 2017 YED has partnered with top-notch incubators, entrepreneurship programmes and VC funds. Egypt is known across Africa and the Middle East to have developed pro-innovation ecosystems where emerging entrepreneurs have been able to flourish.

In 2015, Egypt hosted the Tripartite Summit where a free trade agreement was signed, bringing together three regional economic communities, SADC, EAC and COMESA, effectively creating, with its 26 Member States, the largest trading block on the continent. This ‘borderless economy’ would rank as 15th in the world in terms of GDP.

Speaking on the Forum, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, reiterated the African opportunity based on business-minded reforms taking place across the continent: “The Forum has the objective of promoting investments into our continent, and especially cross-border investments. In Egypt, we have undertaken an ambitious economic reform programme, of which a key ingredient is improving the business environment and overall country competitiveness. Such efforts go hand-in-hand with our commitment to serve as a strategic gateway for Africa and the world.”

As part of the Forum, Egypt will be showcasing its flagship mega-projects including the construction of a new capital city 45km outside of Cairo, and a number of industrial and special economic zone projects along the Suez Canal, among others.

This Forum reinforces Egypt’s commitment to support and enhance the economic and cultural integration of Africa and to spur investment into what is still one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

Commenting on the sustained investor confidence with regards to Africa and the Forum, Heba Salama, COMESA Regional Investment Agency Director, says that “Africa, and in particular the COMESA Region, continues to offer some of the best returns on investment in the world. Africa 2017 will be an unparalleled occasion to gather the architects of Africa’s future and drive further the transformative investment projects of tomorrow”.

The Forum is by invitation only. Interested parties can apply for an invitation through the event website www.BusinessForAfricaForum.com.

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For more information on Africa 2017, please contact info@BusinessForAfricaForum.com

SOURCE
Africa 2017

MEDIA CONTACTS
CAIRO: Mahmoud Mahgoub (MMahgoub@COMESARIA.org)
LONDON: Ishara Callan (I.Callan@ICPublications.com)

LCCI Partners CMC Connect to Celebrate Business Excellence at the 2017 Commerce and Industry Awards

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 16 May 2017 – Business excellence will take center stage in Lagos as the nation’s foremost Chamber of Commerce; the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) celebrates business excellence at the 2017 Commerce & Industry Awards.

The event pitched as the most coveted Business Awards in the country, is scheduled to hold on Saturday, July 1, 2017, at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos with the theme ‘Lagos @ 50: Celebrating the Heartbeat of Commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa’.

This year’s edition will be unique, with the introduction of an Award Icon, the ‘Manilla’- which was originally used as an ornament but later adopted as local trade currency in the 16th century as means of exchange in Lagos and other coastal areas in West Africa.

The LCCI Commerce & Industry Awards is organized annually to recognize, celebrate and promote private and public institutions who have exhibited the core values of best business practices, growth through innovation, business sustainability and have impacted positively on the society.

As Lagos State clocks 50 this year, the Commerce and Industry Award represents an appropriate platform for celebrating the achievements of outstanding corporate organizations and personalities who have kept the spirit of commerce and industry alive, not only in the state but far and wide.

President of LCCI, Chief Dr. Mrs. Nike Akande, CON said “As part of its core mandate of trade promotion and business/policy advocacy, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry annually recognizes deserving corporate organizations and public institutions who contribute meaningfully to the development of commerce and industry in different sectors of the Nigerian economy.

She noted that the Commerce & Industry Awards is known for its high level of transparency, objectivity and painstaking selection process of several entries backed by feedback from robust research and market intelligence.

Group Managing Director of CMC Connect-Burson-Marsteller, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, said the Commerce & Industry Award has grown to become a reputable platform that constantly expands the frontier of business excellence in Lagos. He said CMC Connect, as a leading provider of innovative communication solutions and strategies to businesses in Nigeria, is pleased to partner with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote growth and excellence across the various sectors of the economy while inspiring emerging businesses, entrepreneurs, and sustainability of indigenous enterprises.

According to the organizers of the Commerce and Industry Awards, nominations can be made by members of the LCCI Sectoral Groups, Regulators and other Industry Stakeholders and the award selection process is highly credible.

Founded in 1888, LCCI has emerged as the leading voice of the private sector through its sustained public policy advocacy, stakeholders’ engagement and trade promotion activities towards creating a conducive investment climate and prosperous economy.

-ENDS-

SOURCE
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

Photo: LCCI-Confederation of Indian Industry business interactive session

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 01 October 2016 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently hosted the LCCI-Confederation of Indian Industry business interactive session at the Commerce House, Victoria Island, Lagos. Below are pictures from the session:

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Caption

From left – Ms Indrayani Mulay, Deputy Director, International Division, Confederation of India Industry; Mr V. Verghese, MFR, Vice President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); Chief. Dr. Mrs. Nike Akande, CON, President, LCCI; Mr Shri V.D. Choudhary, Head of Mission, India High Commission, Lagos and Mr E.B Rajesh, International Regional Director,Africa, Confederation of Indian Industry during the Nigeria – India Business Meeting organized by the LCCI at the Commerce House, Victoria Island, Lagos