The European Union has announced a 13.5million euros package for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria under the British Council’s Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (ACT) programme.
The ACT programme is designed as a response strategy to the EU’s identified need to invest and engage more with CSOs in Nigeria as required under the larger global EU CSO roadmap framework.
Speaking at the launch of the programme on Tuesday, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, said the EU and other partners have supported the CSOs, especially in the Northeast through the provision of humanitarian assistance or support with development corporation body for recovery engagement.
“Through these supports, CSOs are literarily providing relief to millions of people and the lives of man Nigerians depend directly on the provision of that support which is of vital importance to all of us to make sure that people in need indeed get the help they require whilst at the same time making sure there is a constructive dialogue between all these stakeholders, also, a civilian-military dialogue when needed to make sure everybody plays their role,” he said.
He said the support is to enable the CSOs to play a constructive role in seeing that the right policy decisions are being taken in support of Nigerians and more vital democratic role so as to “keep the rest of us on our toes and to provide vital and constructive input”.
On how the money will be distributed, the Sub-Saharan Africa portfolio Lead and Programme Director for the ACT, British Council, Bob Arnot, said as a result of fraud accusations among CSOs, they have developed an efficient finance control system.
“We have a very vigorous system of distributing money because let’s be honest, there have been accusations of CSOs in terms of fraud, money laundering and all. So, as the people are delivering those programmes, we have to be vigorous in terms of the ways in which we manage the money,” he said.
He said one of the key sustainability issues that will be taken forward is to work with institutions, organisations and CSOs.
He also said helping the CSOs build capacity in research, teaching, training and mentoring will keep the legacy of the programme.
“Our intention is about magnifying impact, taking things that are already on the ground, working and making sure that they are more deep, impactful, making sure they are disseminated away from the particular site where work is been undertaken,” he said.
The National Programme Manager, Damilare Babalola, explained that the money will not be handed over to the CSOs directly, but ACT, being a programme of intervention, will observe and work with CSOs.
The programme will also offer technical assistance to a range of CSOs to improve their system within the period of programme implementation that will last four years.
‘We are looking at the internal system, processes of engagement, systemic issues and we are supporting them to improve their efficiency and effectiveness on how they do things differently.
“We are also looking at what is constraining their operational environment and how to support them to spend and improve on the area,” he said.