Promoting Ethics and Transparency in Business Transactions in Nigeria

 

Concerned about the significant negative impact of corruption on economic growth of the country, UNODC and the Government of the Netherlands, in 2007 signed a cooperation agreement to finance a framework that will pave way for a greater involvement of the private sector in the anti-corruption crusade. The agreement has today resulted in the project: 'Promoting Ethics and Transparency in Business Transactions in Nigeria (NGA/T10)'

Project implementation began in 2008. The primary aim was to advocate for transparency and ethical business practice in the Nigerian business sector through a thorough risk assessment and the development of sound business principles and related training. The project started out with three broad objectives namely:

  • Develop and pilot the implementation of a comprehensive framework for promoting ethics and transparency in the Nigerian private sector
  • Establishment of a credible and functional public complaints system providing the private sector with a set of possibilities to report corruption without fear of retaliation or other negative consequences
  • Promote the compliance by the banking sector and other financial institutions with existing anti-money laundering standards

Project Outputs and Achievements

a)  Establishment of a Working Group

With the commencement of the project, a Project Working Group was established with membership drawn from business and business organizations, civil society groups and the public sector. This action provided a platform where government and private sector /civil society actors come together to discuss and proffer remedies to the anti-corruption challenge. Some members of the Working Group members include: Nigerian Economic Summit  Group, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists,TUGAR, Transparency In Nigeria, Convention on Business Integrity, African Leadership Forum, Institute of Directors, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited ,Promaconas International Ltd., Resources and Trust Limited, Federal  Ministry  of Commerce and Industry, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Consumer Protection Council, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, The Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nigeria Labour Congress, Bank PHB, Oceanic Bank, Lagos Business School, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Public Complaints Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, and United Nations Development Programme.  This group has since been instrumental in providing the needed guidance for the project.

b) Conduct of Risk Assessment Studies

One of the outputs of the project is the assessment of risks and vulnerabilities to corruption involving the private sector. With the leadership provided by the Working Group, sectors for detailed risk assessment studies were identified, namely:

  • Immigration, in particular the obtaining of work permits for foreign experts;
  • Customs, in particular the clearance of goods;
  • Environmental and sanitary clearances;
  • Permits, licences accreditations' required to provide certain goods or services;
  • Government contracting, in particular public procurement;

In line with these observations, the project commenced a detailed institutional risk assessment of the Nigeria Customs Service in 2009. The assessment is meant to highlight what works, what does not and underscore how corruption prevention arrangements can be strengthened, particularly in the interface between the Customs Service and its publics. The draft report is currently awaiting the Nigeria Customs Service comments and endorsements. In addition, the project has commenced a transport sector assessment involving the Police, Federal Road Safety Commission and the Board of Inland Revenue.

c) Development/Adoption of anti-corruption principles

One of the challenges of enshrining transparency in the private sector in the country is not the absence of laws but compliance with these laws. At the inaugural Working Group meeting of 11th November 2008, members confirmed a range of existing laws and compliance standards that were not enforced.  A grant was provided to an NGO under the project to conduct a desk review of domestic and international standards, principles, recommendations and other documentation relevant to ethical business conduct and develop a policy paper on commonalities on values and principles potentially relevant to doing business in Nigeria. This has been achieved. A set of principles have been developed that was widely accepted by the Nigerian business communities at that December 2009 Nigeria Economic Summit. Effort is on to ensure that these principles are widely disseminated and endorsed by all businesses in Nigeria.