Corporate Social Responsibility-The Nigerian Experience
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a form of self-regulation, conscious attempts and self-efforts undertaken by organisations for self-preservation and enhancement of their operations. The business dictionary defines corporate social responsibility as “a company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates…” This follows without saying that a company should have some form of responsibility towards the community in which it operates. CSR is usually integrated into a business model for an organisation to be able to live in harmony with its operating environment.
Companies can express these responsibilities through reduction of the waste they produce or disposing them in environmental friendly ways such that little or no damage is done to the community’s ecology. Corporate Social Responsibility when proactively undertaken promotes the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and by voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality.
Nigeria is blessed with many natural resources. As such, she attracts investments from local and foreign companies. An important element of Corporate Social Responsibility in businesses is taking responsibility for its impact on society or their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders, and all other members of the public sphere. In most places around the world, these companies are bound to operate in manners that are responsible because of the pressures they get from responsible politicians who are really concerned about their communities and the environment.
In Nigeria however, where misuse of public property thrives and where our politicians are more concerned about their self interest as above the welfare of their people; this has resulted in great unpredictable change on the part of companies who know they could get away with anything as long as they keep the corrupt public officer happy with bribes. The environmental protection laws have been largely neglected as government lacks the political will to enforce its own laws.
Sadly, many companies operating in Nigeria argue that they perform better in their responsibilities to the society and that government should gather its loins to perform optimally. They contend that it is the failure of government to discharge its responsibilities that have made the various communities to be turning the heat on them.
Most of its public infrastructure is collapsing. The business climate in Nigeria is rough and harsh and many business entities are going under. Many companies are relocating to outside of Nigeria. With an array of graft agencies, one would think corruption and nepotism would be at their lowest. Unfortunately, corruption, tribalism, and electoral malpractices are now systemic. So it is vital that the contributions of companies which would be strategic to the growth of the society are encouraged. Thus, social, economic and environmental progress should be highly emphasized when companies are sited in a defined location.