On my way to work recently, I got robbed of my phone on the streets of the famous Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos. It was only with the help of a passer-by, who pointed me in the direction that the thief went, that I was able to recover my phone.
When I finally got on a bus and headed for work, I realised how much my productivity would suffer if I lost my phone. If that lady had not helped me spot the thief, I would have spent most of my productive time, along with resources, trying to get business back to normal. I might never meet her again, but that good samaritan saved a business by not looking the other way.
The incident made me think about how many lives and businesses have been avoidably disrupted because people chose to be passive bystanders. This issue was recently addressed by Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the Secretary of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Special Adviser to the President on ease of doing business.
In her Independence Day speech titled, “Fast-forward — The women and men who built Nigeria,” she addressed every Nigerian with this attitude. “This is the bad samaritan in all of us. We are often quick to disparage the Nigerian Police force, for example, or throw shade at the government, the elite, our corrupt leaders,” she said. “However, I doubt many of us can honestly say we have never looked the other way in the face of injustice, even in our homes. As it is often said, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good women and men to do nothing.”
According to the World Bank, Nigeria ranked 131st out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business. Although this is quite low, it was an improvement from the 146th position in the previous year. This ease of doing business index covers several significant factors worth looking at in a business climate. However, it does not check all the boxes. Some factors are difficult to measure on a scale, such as integrity in doing business.
“In the course of our business climate reform work over the last six years, not once have I met a person who has admitted to the remote possibility of playing a negative part in any way, shape, or form with regards to any of the challenges in our business climate today,” said Dr Oduwole. “In the face of it, no one is corrupt. No one extorts money or receives bribes from businesses, and no one gives bribes or offers an inducement to circumvent the system or to derive benefit over their competitors.”
Doing business in Nigeria is rife with uncertainties. But, we must come to terms with our faults in a failing system. Joining the rot in the system simply makes it more difficult for the next person to thrive. As Dr Oduwole said, we need to do business with integrity and excellence and look out for each other. “Ask what you can do for your country,” she said. “Realize that our work is our citizenship and there is no time for small dreams.”
Written by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe