By Bukar Bolori
The European Union (EU) has expressed concern over the low compliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on extant laws guiding the regulations of the system at the state and local levels in Nigeria.
The concern was expressed on Monday under its Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (ACT) programme.
The Manager, Agent for Citizen Driven Transformation programme of the European Union(EU), Edem Udeokong made this known at a “Regulatory Framework Compliance Training for State Networks and CDPs” in Abuja.
Udeokong noted that ignorance as a result of lack of knowledge as well as the reasons of implementation which is a major issue in Nigeria has been a major factor for low compliance.
He said: “This is sometimes due to lack of knowledge and unwillingness to comply, in Nigeria the issue of compliance is inept in the system.
“We are not just proactive in complying with the law as we do not see the need to comply and also for so long the laws are not enforced.
Udeokong, while disclosing that a survey In 2021 with some civil society revealed the extent to the issues relating to non compliance by CSOs, said this is happening across board.
He said the training is at the eleventh round to sensitize organisations “as the laws and regulations are there already but the problem is enforcement, because if the laws are enforced the organisation may suffer penalties like being shutdown, or the promoters thrown into jail.
He lamented that: “Ignorance is one of the major reasons for non compliance, although some are aware but due to negligence and for some the cost to get an audited account is something that discourages them.
Udeokong, in proffering solutions to mitigate the issue, said “we train them and produced a simplified version of the law, to create a sensitization on how to do things also the regulators need to send out more information and make things cheaper and simpler for the people.”
The Assistant Director, Office of the Registrar General Corporate Affairs Commission, Tolulope Sonaike, on his part said, the issue is across board and not specific to CSOs but particularly so with the CSO.
According to Sonaike, the number of CSO who are registered with relations to the annual report that are filed is really at a low compliance level.
He said: “Compliance means being up to date. Principally this entails annual returns report to the CAC, keeping them in the know if an organisation is still in business.
“This short coming is attributed to several factors. Firstly most of these organizations do not understand their statutory obligations. This is because what most promoters are concerned about is let me get the business started.
“Again, they do not engage the services of consultants and experts to advice them.There is really a low understanding of what it will take after registration to remain in business effectively, not just in the business space making money but to be up to date with regulators.
“The reasons may also be that they do not even know they should be filing those returns.Some of them have changed structures without notifying the CAC and when that happens they have a duty under the law to do so.
“If they are changes in the particulars of directors and/or secretary, if you alter your constitutions or change your trustees all of these have to be notified to the commission but a lot of organisations do not know this.
Sonaike added that “the issue of low compliance may be that there is a low level of knowledge in this regard and it is important that they know this because this may give rise to striking off the company as this is a ground for such penalty.
“The commission has a search portal where anyone can go look up information to determine the status of a company as active or inactive. Active in this context means an organisation is up to date with annual returns filing.
“If you fail to disclose, the commission can also indicate the organisations status as inactive so there are consequences, which might not be good for an organisation.”