CSR in Nigeria

CSR in Nigeria

Blog by Wayne Visser

A few thoughts after my trip to Lagos last month …

I am not naive enough to believe that CSR heralds a new dawn for Nigeria. The general consensus was that most companies are stuck in the Ages of Philanthropy and Marketing. Nevertheless, CSR has the potential to advance transparency and to create a platform to discuss the ethics of business and government. It also has the potential to be corrupted, which sadly is already happening in some instances where corporate sponsorship of government ‘CSR projects’ is practiced as an indirect form of bribery.

Shell Nigeria’s reputation seems as sullied as ever, 15 years after the Ken Saro Wiwa fiasco. It seems like a viscous cycle of destructive relations. According to Tony Attah, Manager of Sustainable Development and Community Relations, 90% of the oil spills in 2009/10 were as a result of saboteurs, vandals and those trying to steal oil from the pipelines. Also, the Nigerian government takes more than 90% of the earnings of the business through taxes, royalties and their own equities (it has a 55% equity stake in the company).

Of course, there are examples of good practice, such as the Global MOUs between companies and communities, and conservation projects like the Chevron preserved urban forest which I visited. Yet even here, one senses that these are fragile fortifications against a relentless tide of oil-slicked growth and car-jammed urbanisation. I was there during the scheduled first weekend of elections, but these were postponed due to printed ballot papers not arriving in time. The Nigerians take it all in their stride, as if fighting the behemoth of inefficiency is as futile as cursing the manic traffic.

One encouraging initiative is the Social Enterprise Reporting Awards (SERA), run by Trucontact …

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Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2011) CSR in Nigeria, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 26 April 2011.

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Nigeria 2011 Notes

08 April 2011

Finally, I made it to Nigeria, a country I expected to visit much sooner than now, given its strategic importance in Africa and CSR. I got back from Lagos via Paris this morning. The CSR training for Trucontact went well and seemed appreciated. My hosts, Ken Egbas and colleagues, were gracious and generous. As it turned out, I saw very little on this first trip, beyond the training venue, my hotel and the crazy traffic in between.

I come away with mixed feelings. Certainly, the raw vitality and aggressive ambition (or is it just survival instinct?) is palatable. And as in so much of Africa, the culture and its people are colourful, hopeful and friendly. But there is also the malaise of powerlessness in the face of endemic corruption and greed among politicians, not to mention the inertia of crumbling state apparatus and economic injustice.

The greatest hope being clung to is rediscovering good, public-serving leaders, who remain a fantasy. The greatest source of faith is a Pentecostal brand of Christianity that gives its followers strength in knowing that God is on the side of the oppressed. What is somewhat depressing is knowing that Nigeria’s hardships are largely self-imposed, inflicted by the power-hungry on the opportunity-starved. The society is culturally robust, but morally and economically weakened by the cancers of raw greed and desperate need.

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