A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is a nonprofit organization or voluntary group which is organized at a local, national and/or international level for a particular purpose. NGO’s are set up for various reasons or interests which are best known to owners of these groups.
The functions of NGOs vary and they include harnessing talents by giving free education and award of scholarship, to commit government to carter for its citizens, sensitize and enlighten the people, etc. Some notable NGOs include Nigerian Red Cross Society, Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Yoruba Foundation, Women Farmers Association of Nigeria, etc.
Many people would like to have NGOs so as to touch the lives of “the common man in Nigeria,” or compel government to carter for Nigerian people, but they are often confused as to what steps to take in order to register NGO in Nigeria so as to be recognized by Nigerian laws.
If you fall into that category, worry no more because this piece is tailored to meet that purpose. Also, if you already have an NGO but you wish to register it officially, this will serve as a perfect guide for it.
Corporate Affairs Commissions registers all NGOs in Nigeria, and Nigerian government cannot take yours seriously if your NGO is not registered.
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Step 1: Carefully pick the right name
Just like every normal business the world over, carefully picking a right NGO name is vital to passing to the public the purpose for which your NGO would be established.
The name of the NGO you wish to register should be rightly picked to reflect its objective(s).
If you wish to start and register an NGO in your area say, Justice and Peace Initiative, when people hear the name, they will get the right message that yours is an NGO which intervenes in disputes to broker peace between warring factions (dispute resolution) and/or you could be a lawyer who offers probono (free of charge) services.
It is important to note also that picking a simple name that will be easy for people to memorize is important if you wish to register NGO in Nigeria. So, you will choose a simple name that is tailored to what you wish to achieve or pursue.
Step 2: Visit Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) office
The Companies and Allied Matters (CAMA) Act of 1990 empowers CAC to register all NGOs in Nigeria. NGOs fall into the category of incorporated trustees.
The first thing is to check if your desired name is available like in the case of Justice and Peace Initiative. If the name has not been taken, you will be asked to proceed with the registration of your NGO name.
After that they will reel out all requirements necessary to register Justice and Peace Initiative in Nigeria which you will get to find out as you continue reading this fully researched piece.
After the name search, you will pick up a form called IT Form 1 which can easily be processed by lawyers or chartered secretary in Abuja headquarters of CAC.
To register an NGO in Nigeria, it must be approved by CAC office in Abuja.
Step 3: Visit any 3 national dailies and advertise your intent.
You have to go and advertise in any three (3) national dailies and one of the dailies must be a local newspaper of where your NGO will be located, say Uyo. This is an important condition attached to registering an NGO in Nigeria by CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) which has the statutory right to register NGO in Nigeria.
You will have to pay a visit to Vanguard Newspaper, Punch Newspaper, and Radar Newspaper (which is a local tabloid in Uyo).
When the publications have been released, you will take copies of each of the newspapers to office of CAC for further registration of your NGO, Justice and Peace Initiative.
And incorporation of trustees (persons appointed by an NGO during a meeting to pursue its registration at CAC) must be done within 28 days of this publication. So, this is an important step to take before I register NGO in Nigeria.
Guide 4: Other CAC requirements
Apart from the requirements mentioned in the previous steps, other requirements demanded by CAC to register NGO in Nigeria which you must provide include’
- 2 copies of your NGO’s constitution, originals of Radar Newspaper, Vanguard Newspaper and Punch Newspaper containing your advertisement,
- 2 formal letters of application signed by secretary and chairman (having common seal of your NGO), 2 passport photographs,
- receipt of filing fees,
- minutes of the meeting of the NGO where trustees of your NGO are adopted and signed by secretary and chairman with the letterhead of your NGO, trustees have to sign against their names, occupations, and full residential addresses (and trustees must adults and must not ex-convict of any financial crimes and proof of their appointment documented),
- 2 copies of your NGO constitution, affidavit sworn by trustees and IT Declaration Form, evidence of land ownership of your NGO (the CAMA Act of 1999 expects all NGOs to own a land or do so within one year of registration), and finally,
- 2 passport photographs of trustees. CAC will then create a file for your NGO when your meet all the requirements.
You will pay the sum of N20,000 in CAC account or raise the draft in her name and other charge like stamp charge may apply. Yes! It is done!!!
You may now go and start popping champagnes because your NGO has been registered.
Why Should you Register Your NGO?
Like I observed earlier, Nigerian government cannot take any unregistered NGO seriously. All known NGOs in Nigeria are registered, and individuals who wish to set up local NGOs like you wish to, must endeavour to register it.
NGO helps to make our country a better place by empowering people, assisting government to develop Nigerian society and fostering sustainable peace and unity among the peoples of Nigeria. To register NGO in Nigeria has the following benefits:
- Government recognition
- Power to hold land. Your NGO can now buy, own and sell lands in Nigeria
- Common seal. The NGO has a common seal now
- It has continuous succession. Even in death of its major financiers and board of trustees, it will continue to exist because it is now an incorporated trustee. If the principal officers die, the NGO will inaugurate new members to replace the deceased ones immediately because it is now seen as an artificial human being
The nonprofit becomes a corporate body or artificial human being. That is, it has the right to sue and also be sued now.
There you are. That’s the step needed to register an NGO in Nigeria. Follow the steps religiously and you may never need a lawyer in the process. But, if you don’t have the time, you can hire a barrister to do the run-up for you.
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