29th February, 2012
Globacom’s offer of N5 million in scholarships to 250 students is commendable and it would do this country a lot of good if other corporate bodies emulate this gesture and live up to expectations in terms of carrying out corporate social responsibility.
Over the years, we have watched with concern, how corporate bodies repatriate their profits back to their home countries after short-changing the government by conniving with corrupt government officials, without concern for their host communities and countries.
A few years ago, when the Governor Babatunde Fashola administration introduced the Adopt-A-School scheme, we thought it would be quickly embraced by corporate bodies that make billions of naira in profit and pay mouth-watering allowances to its executives, but neglect the communities in which they operate, sometime, polluting their water, poisoning the air and generally constituting a nuisance to the residents.
Agreed, some firms have adopted schools, provided safe water, constructed roads and given scholarships to indigent students, but we believe it is not enough. Only few firms out of the hundreds of firms operating all over the country, especially in Lagos State, have done anything worthwhile over the years. To fail to impact positively on the community in which it operates is to fail to be a responsible corporate body.
While several firms would boast about what they have done in Lagos and Nigeria, others cannot boast of improving the lives of a few people outside their organisation, which is shameful, considering that an organisation cannot exist without these same people it has ignored for years.
Governments all over the world encourage firms to partner with it to grow the economy and improve the lives of the people, especially through tax holidays. We cannot afford to be different, which is why we have to encourage firms operating in Lagos State to contribute to national development in areas like youth development, sports, culture, education, infrastructure and even economic empowerment.
It is not too much for a bank to take over the funding of a government healthcare centre, neither is it too expensive for firms to construct culverts and drainage channels or even the road to their factories, especially for the multi-billion naira manufacturing industries.
Globacom, Etisalat, Total, Guaranty Trust Bank, Cadbury, First Bank and several others must be commended for their contributions to the well-being of Nigerians and we know they will do more. The cost of education is driving students out of school and while government says it cannot help the situation, corporate bodies would do well to step in and assist brilliant but indigent youths, just like corporate bodies did for the Security Trust Fund, when it became obvious that the state government had been overwhelmed by security challenges.
Rich and wealthy Nigerians should continue with the works of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, who gave scholarships to indigent students annually.
Being socially responsible is not just for corporate bodies, high networth individuals must contribute their quota, while churches and other religious bodies should imbibe the spirit of being socially responsible by giving back something to the society.