LITMUS TEST FOR CBN’S CSR CBN DONATIONS: CSR OR NOT?
On Monday 20th of February 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria donated N25 Million to the families of the bomb blast victims at the Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Suleja on Christmas day which had no less than 40 casualties. This followed a previous donation of N100 Million to the Kano State Government for the victims of the bomb blast which claimed over 180 lives in the state.
The recent donations have sparked flames of criticism as to the role of the Apex Bank in providing relief to citizens as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. The gesture has been perceived by some as misappropriation of public funds. However, whilst explaining the rationale behind the donations, the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi stated that the donation was in line with the bank’s CSR policy which was approved by the Board in 2006, enabling the bank to support people in time of need.
An announcement by the CBN management stated thus; “It should be noted that this is not the first time that the Central Bank of Nigeria is assisting victims of disasters. Just recently we built a N500 Million bridge that links the two campuses of University of Benin after a series of mishaps”.
A review of CBN’s previous initiatives shows monetary donations to various tertiary institutions, some of which include: Nigerian University Capacity Building Programme, Capacity building for government and professional institutions, Sports development, library services, economic and financial data management and dissemination, as well as some other donations to groups such as Yangoji Lepers Village, Nigerian Police Force, Anti-Fraud Foundation, Child Care Trust and Farm Management Association Of Nigeria.
Right or Wrong?
There are salient arguments on both sides of the debate. Critics have mentioned section 9 of the 2007 CBN act which enjoins the; “Governor and Deputy Governors to be fully devoted to the service of the Bank”, and warns that; “charitable causes as may be determined by the Board should not conflict with or detract from their full time duties.” Whilst a short official visit to the Madalla site does not detract or conflict with the full time duties of the Governor and management staff, concerns about the motive behind the choice of Kano state though attacks occurred in other states, enrages the allegations. In addition, whilst relief donations for victims of attacks are a commendable initiative, these acts of philanthropy should not be confused as CSR because CSR is much more than seasonal charity.
The apex bank should consider more sustainable forms of Corporate Social Investment and find more feasible ways to align same with their core competence or discipline.
FUELLING THE CHEVRON FIRE…
The British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) describes the incident as ‘a gas-fuelled fire, with flames as high as 5m, which may burn for months in waters off the Niger Delta in south-east Nigeria’. Two workers reportedly died after January’s explosion at the KS Endeavour exploration rig, owned by Chevron Nigeria on January 16, 2012. The Funiwa 5 is a new gas platform along the Kolu-Ama River in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas (Koluama 1, Koluma 11, Ekeni, Foropa, Fishtown, Ezetu 1, Ezetu 11 and Sanga) of Bayelsa State and was drilling a natural gas exploration approximately 10 km off the coast of Nigeria and in roughly 12 m of water. The resultant gas fire which has since diminished to a marginal level brought to the fore the perennial challenge of environmental pollution and degradation in the oil bearing region.
The fire has also been described as ‘watching a volcano erupting, fire spewing in every direction whilst black bubbles rise to the surface and black smoke spread into the air’. News reports have been graphic with each adjective spelling disaster and a more devastated environment as many residents of Kolu-Ama, a community located about 10km away from the fire, are too scared to eat fish.
Whilst the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State criticized Chevron stating that the company should have been better prepared; Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has promised succour within one week for communities affected in the explosion and pledged Federal Government’s commitment to providing lasting solution to the rising incidence of environmental pollution caused by oil and gas exploration and production activities in the Niger Delta. She also promised that her ministry will galvanize the International Oil Companies, IOCs, as well as the host communities to ensure that the operating environment is made safe for all concerned in line with international best practices. In response to the official visits, the community leaders urged the Federal Government to fast track the supply of relief materials to the people and provide urgent medical assessment teams to undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the situation. They also pledged their support for the various rescue efforts to be carried out as well as to work with the Petroleum Ministry and oil firms to ensure clean environment and the much needed development of the area.
No smoke without fire…
At the moment, what fuel the fire are the allegations and counter-allegations between Chevron and the host communities. Relief efforts are allegedly hindered by youth activist groups who demand monetary compensation in order to grant access to the site, further delaying the response time and estimated time required to completely douse the inferno. Almost 100 people have left towns close to the fire meanwhile; scientists are conducting tests to find out if local food and water has been contaminated by the gas in the ocean – after residents raised concerns.
SURVEY ON CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN NIGERIA.
ThistlePraxis invites organizations to participate in a survey which is to be completed by professionals responsible for the implementation of CSR/Social Performance/CSI, etc. It contains relevant topics of interest in the field of CSR including general questions about companies as well as CSR specific questions about the past, present and future activities.
The results will enable us to ascertain the current status of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability issues in Nigeria. The questionnaire contains quantitative as well as qualitative questions. The data will be analyzed by a team of research experts and made available in a report titled ‘THE STATE OF CSR IN NIGERIA: 2010/2011 ANNUAL REVIEW’. The report will be available in mid 2012, precisely at the Africa CEO Roundtable and Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility in June 2012.
ThistlePraxis Consulting intends that this exercise would set an initial benchmark and a platform for dialogue with companies on improvement of their CSR policies and related performance targets in the long run. We are aware of the limitations of this survey and while this survey aims to gain an overview of companies’ CSR polices and related measuring systems via verified self-reporting questionnaires, it does not seek to assess impacts and to make judgments on whether the impact of each CSR initiative is sufficient or inadequate, particularly on issues involving the environment or labour rights.
Although we will not survey and evaluate criticisms that the same company may have faced from media and civil society groups such as labour, environment and consumer organizations, we do hope that this research will facilitate comprehensive dialogue on both positive and negative issues regarding corporate responsibility. ‘We simply wish to draw companies’ attention to increased global awareness on corporate accountability, transparency and international best practices’, Ini Onuk, Lead Consultant/CEO affirms.
The deadline for data to be collected will be February 29, 2012. Take the survey by logging on to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Annual_CSR_Review_Nigeria_2011. For further details please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NB: Individuals who take the survey between February 1 and February 29, 2012 will get a FREE 1-Year subscription of CSR Files. Simply take the survey and send an email to: email@example.com or tweet at us: @Files_CSR with proof (if you do, this will be easy).
Nigerian CSR Reports
For the first time in Nigeria, a summary of all CSR-related and sustainability headlines across various Nigerian print and electronic media is published weekly on Nigeria CSR Reports. The aim of this news blog is to promote effective CSR reporting in Nigeria through active dissemination of CSR News stories, report writing and reviews and a virtual community for professionals who work on similar news beat. Nigeria CSR Reports is a class project of the Effective CSR Reporting for Media Professionals (ECSRRMP) Set 2011 which drew media professionals from a number of leading media organizations in Nigeria.
Perhaps the essence for such capacity development initiatives is summarized in a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) remark: “The media sector – broadly defined – could become the dominant industry of the 21st century. No other industry will so powerfully influence how people and politicians think about CSR and Sustainable Development priorities.”
To visit the blog, log on to: http://www.nigeriacsrreports.blogspot.com.