Theories propounded have come and found their way back home but very few have transcended and stuck across generations like a second skin as much as Corporate Social Responsibility. Industries, consortiums, conglomerates and sole proprietorships thrive on the seemingly infallible mantra that ‘the sole aim of any exchange or service rendered is profit maximization’. Though ideas, cultures, geography and soil where businesses run are immensely diverse as evident in their idiosyncrasies, their unflinching reverence for profit above every other factor has been the basis for sustainability but in an emerging ecosphere where global corporations cum private sectors have become bigger and more powerful than the government of the countries they conduct businesses in, should a shift in responsibility remain barren even when the shift in scarce resources have been birthed?
Over time, the bickering of idealists, realists and socio-economic systems on whether profit maximization’ should remain king of “business-dom” amidst ethics, welfarism, environmental stewardship and societal good remained a verbal altercation until oil exploration activities led to a massive pollution of the US soil instigating the most challenging controversial coinage of CSR.
While intellectuals attempt to competently articulate their varying prospects of this socio-economic vista (CSR), its burgeoning fabric is weaved around four kinds of social responsibility; economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic. In this part of our world where it’s an unspoken rule to give out your last pottage (for no birthright exchange of course), our five senses (and even the sixth) appeal to philanthropy chiefly because our socio-economic needs are so gargantuan that communities don’t really frown at exploiting their resources so long as their ‘backs get scratched’ as well.
Fundamentally, from the era of our colonial slave drivers to when socialism failed as a modus operandi to the cataclysmic resolution for structural adjustment down to the now trendy ‘gospel’ of restructuring, Africa has lived off foreign aids and charitable donations that philanthropy is tattoed in our thinking faculty. Consequently, the legal facet of social responsibility is ignored since our government has refused to sanction laws/policies addressing CSR and even the ones addressing eco-protection and land pollution are not actionable in Nigerian court neither are their penalty stipulations up to date, so since there is no accountability system incorporeality, we are left to hope and pray for a divine touch to their conscience before the MNC’s give back to society; this would hardly suffice with the gory events of mortalities at its peak, an epileptic government support system, dilapidated healthcare network, a miserable educational set up and death traps for roads/ infrastructure. In the same vein, the government is primarily responsible for the general welfare of its citizenry; this is often overlooked as the corporations are saddled with infinite responsibilities using finite resources in case of bad debts and other economic factors which are beyond their jurisdiction as they can only afford as much role as afforded them by the government. There is a pressing need for the construct of a novel, ingenious and practical ideas cannot be overemphasized as it will catalyze an impactful social revamp in our motherland.
Scrutinizing the downstream oil and gas sector in Nigeria, Oil exploration (now exploitation) especially in the Niger Delta region is a dateless public outcry and has sounded like a broken record as they have become preyed simpletons to the cupidity of the government and corporations alike. To cushion this Mis- Norma,
There should be a legal boost to CSR: This way, it becomes an obligation and defaulters are fined hugely. The funds should go into the state/local government account, not the Federal account.
The MNC’s/TNC’s should contribute a stipulated amount for the general development of their host communities: These could be in form of projects or human capital development schemes. These projects should be in consonance with the community’s instantaneous needs. Hence a sit-down dialogue between the MNC’s and the community’s leaders is required. The contractors for the job should be those approved by the community and labour should be implemented by the indigenes for job creation purposes.
An accountability system should be set up: This is substantial as it checks out the progress of these projects at Intervals. The board members should consist of neutral individuals that are neither shareholders nor FG. The board should have access to these accounts and receive reports from the contractors for every expenditure implemented.
The taxes paid by the MNC’S should be incentivized : A chunk of the problem is rooted from the erroneous presumption that as long as the MNC’S are able to satisfy the conditions of the issuance of operational license and the subsequent payment of pricey taxes to FG, they have zero obligation to CSR; in situations where they are relieved from heavy taxes, these MNC’S are able to give back to society without having to worry about keeping their heads above water.
Alternate methods of transporting petroleum products: These methods are sleeping giant which should be awakened.They include: rail cars, tanker vessels and pipelines. They effectively convey these products regardless of quantity or distance with less chances of chaotic oil spillage which no matter how minuscule, deteriorates life, properties, lands and health of the populace. There is also job creation, decongestion of traffic and an increase in the lifespan of roads.
Oil and Gas Pipeline Privatization: With the evolution of a global economy, privatization has been reinforced with a vantage of introducing additional market forces and capital investment to better industry performance. The FG has refused to see the state government as a coordinating partner in all its ventures in the state. The short sight and unflinching desire to micromanage every sector has suppressed the urban renewal potential of the state which is incumbent on its government, not the FG. Heavy regulation has established rigid policies that stifle innovative infrastructural construction by private sectors and simultaneously inhibits the industry’s attractiveness to private investors. With flexible policies that emboldens privatisation, there would be greater competition on a global scale, increase in investment capital for the privatized industries, job creation, promotion of a wider share ownership, exposure of firms to market discipline and substantial generation of revenue.
There has been an advancement of social initiatives as evident in the creation of concrete roads at obajana- Kabba road at Kogi state by business Mogul Aliko Dangote. There is a need for more of social responsibility as there’s still a long stride left to integral development but as organizations rise to the occasion, there will emerge good business for a good society.
Article Written by Peatra Mubo