The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the United Nation Global Compact (UNGC) are poised to launch the Business for Peace (B4P) initiative in Nigeria to expand and deepen private sector action in support of peace in the workplace, marketplace and local communities.
B4P, which is a business leadership platform launched by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, will assist companies implement responsible business practices aligned with the UN Global Compact Ten Principles in conflict-affected and high-risk areas and catalyse action to advance peace.
At the Focused Issue Dialogue of select stakeholders held in Lagos, Innocent Azih, senior consultant and head of programmes, NESG, said the Global Compact Network Nigeria had concluded plans to launch the B4P initiative in Nigeria.
“Already, many Nigerian companies are doing things that are helping them in their market niches to maintain peace because without peace they would have been out of business. But we want to scale those initiatives into a national one that will enable overall peace,” said Azih.
The dialogue identified key issues and major challenges to business sustainability in the Nigerian market that could be linked to conflicts, and designed how the B4P platform or methodology will be customised in the Nigerian case.
B4P will support a range of private sector actions to advance peace around the globe, including infrastructure development projects, basic needs provision, training and capacity programmes (ex-combatants and youth), promoting fair land rights and acquisition, natural resource management, including water, encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation and fostering inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding.
Ayotola Jagun, chief compliance officer and company secretary, Oando plc, said: “We need to empower the youths because they are the future of our country. They are the strength of the country. There is a lot of vitality and ideas that we are not tapping into and there is innovation that we are missing out on. If we don’t focus on the youths and empower them, and allow them to emerge, then we are not creating a sustainable country. It means we are not developing this country for the long term.”
Azih said the purpose of the B4P initiative is for businesses to have an ambient environment to scale up their operations, to create employment and create wealth. “And what that means is that all the issues that breed conflicts will come down once the youths are engaged. And then the overall impact on the economy will be visible in terms of increased employment, increased GDP, healthier environment, peace and everybody will enjoy it.”
The launch of the B4P in Nigeria was originally slated for September 25. “We seriously pray that with efforts the government is putting in to contain the current health challenge, called Ebola, that we will be able to engage our New York partners so that we can launch it later in the year, probably in November. Sudan will be launching in two weeks time, Uganda in October. In fact, we planned to be the first to launch in Africa,” he said.