By Odimegwu Onwumere
(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – The average Nigerian believes that corporate bodies in Nigeria need to do more to
impact on the society. Nigerians argue that companies in Nigeria should give back to the society where they are reaping from.
However, the understanding of what constitutes a corporate social responsibility varies on who you are dealing with at any given time. Generally speaking, social responsibility in today’s ever changing world has become synonymous with the survival of many organisations.
However, the way corporate bodies carry out their social responsibilities differ from organisation to organisation and this is largely determined by the target public or audience of the corporate body in question.
For example, recently, Hyundai Motors Nigeria Limited organised Miss West Africa-Nigeria, Queen Globe 2013 contest which was won by one Miss Olumiluwa Yemi, a 400 Level Banking and Finance student of the University of Benin.
The coordinator of the event and head, Sales and Marketing of the company, Mr. Jatin Nadkarni, was elated by not only the fact that the company has come to stay in the country, but by what he saw as the never-tiring spirit of the Nigerian youths, in enhancing the society.
Many companies in the country hold the youths in high esteem and are proud to be associated with them. They feel proud when they see youths of immeasurable status are made ambassadors of their companies or use their products in paid advertisements.
The companies support projects by the youths and award scholarships to students and assist charitable organizations in attaining their aims and aspirations. UAC, for instance launched a society driven project that was known and called, Goodness League initiative, on one-occasion.
This scheme was aimed at touching the lives of young Nigerians, whom government at all levels and leaders of different endeavours see as the leaders of tomorrow. The company is into seeing the promotion of Schools Support Programme and boosting of infrastructure and augmentation of facilities in schools across the country.
Majority of the companies provide vacation jobs and industrial attachment opportunities to students in higher institutions of learning, in an effort to provide them with realistic experience in a gargantuan level of business and technical abilities and this is also part of the social responsibility.
About 14 years ago, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC introduced an annual national quiz competition for secondary schools across the country, in recognition of the importance of education to the development of Nigeria, which was part of its CSR and the enthusiasm to touch the lives of young Nigerians, amongst others.
Giving back to the society is the philosophy of most of these companies. A company known as GlaxoSmithKline worldwide was into increasing community access to healthcare and empowering communities at the grassroots level as part of its CSR. The company does this in partnership with the communities the projects belong to and most times, in partnership with the authorities and appropriate NGOs concerned.
The companies do not just dabble into facilitating projects in the communities; they do that only where the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows them to. Etisalat, for instance, creates continued economic and social force through boundless reach in areas of leadership, education, health and environment and building meaningful relationships with its stakeholders through engagement.
“Etisalat CSR is about how business conducts itself with regards to all its activities which includes operating ethically and fairly in dealing with all stakeholders as well as sustainably impacting the communities in which it operates…,” it announced in its website.
Etisalat has the Adopt-a-School Initiative, ASI which is a Public Private Partnership between Lagos State Government and business organizations in the state, designed to improve the deplorable state of public schools in Lagos. There are also the Career Counseling Scheme for Students, Etisalat Scholarship Awards, Health, Fight Malaria Initiative, Environment, ECO-SIM cards, Regional Initiatives, Teacher Training Programme and many other platforms Etisalat operates.
“An important initiative was the creation in 2010 of a CSR Centre in the Lagos Business School, LBS by Etisalat, a telecommunications company. Since many Nigerian senior executives of the major Nigerian firms are sponsored by their companies to pursue training courses at the LBS, this centre has the opportunity to refine a CSR methodology appropriate for Nigeria, and also to impart deeper awareness and more effective methods throughout Nigerian public and private institutions,” said Richard Joseph, a CSR specialist.
Investigations reveal that both foreign and indigenous companies in Nigeria are not shying away from their CSR. Dangote Group is an indigenous company that spends money amounting to billions of Naira in its CSR, on the area of community development.
For instance, the company made a donation of N200 million in 2011, to Katsina State University. In 2010, it made a donation of Haemodialysis machine valued at N21 million to General Hospital, Lagos, in conjunction with Rotary Club of Victoria Island. In 2009, it made a donation of N117.5 million for construction of squash complex at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN main campus.
It was observed that the company had also supported victims of disasters across the country and beyond. In 2010 alone, there were humanitarian supports from the company for victims of Jos and Bauchi crises with donation of items and products valued at N33.2 million, a donation of N100 million to victims of flood disaster in Sokoto State; N50 million to flood victims in Jigawa State; donation of products worth N120 million to victims of famine in Niger Republic; donation of $2 million to victims of flood disaster in Pakistan.
Although, Nigerians are clamouring for more, but majority of the companies in the country are assisting Nigerians to achieve their individual and collective dreams. Richard Joseph, comment further states that Nigeria has been included among the center-of-attention countries of the President Barack Obama Administration’s ‘Power Africa’ scheme, aimed at boosting electrification in the continent.
These achievements notwithstanding, Corporate Social Responsibility of organisations should not be limited to only hosting pageantries and industrial attachments to students of higher learning and having known faces in the movie and music industries as ambassadors, but also to fast-tracking and aiding the further industrialization of the country.
The feelings amongst the general population is that companies should liaise with government in providing such amenities as electricity, good sanitation, provision of portable water, improving the transport system, and above all affordable housing not only to their host communities, but to other communities that are in dire need of these facilities.
However, stakeholders are of the opinion that the country’s economy must be opened up to encourage more corporate bodies, which will in turn boost the economy with more corporate social responsibilities.
Richard Joseph observed that Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria is outshined by what could be called Corporate Social Irresponsibility, CSI, saying that CSI is an observable-fact that chiefly afflicts mineral-exporting countries and that the hollow profile cast by CSI in Nigeria cannot be neglected.