Globally, it is a fact that governments alone, irrespective of their financial capabilities, cannot provide all the needed forms of development for any society.
The government needs contributions and support from communities, individuals, and corporate organisations to meet people’s needs effectively.
In this regard, the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is analysed and effectively explored.
According to Wikipedia, Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of international private business self-regulation which aims to contribute to societal goals of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature by engaging in or supporting volunteering or ethically oriented practices.
Corporate Social Responsibility impacts society’s concerns and is also part of a strategy for even development across the nation’s states.
While the primary purpose of corporate social responsibility is to give back to the community through philanthropic causes and provide positive social value, it is possible to use their activities as bases for development in the country, especially in developing nations like Nigeria, where the needs of the people far exceed available government’s resources.
Although in Nigeria at the moment, there are no laws that make Corporate Social Responsibility mandatory, there are, however, laws that highlight duties expected of organisations and bodies.
Despite the inadequacies of the law, several private sector organisations in Nigeria have taken it as part of their moral obligations to carry out CSRs. Some of the areas covered include health, poverty eradication, education, youth development, skills empowerment, sports, and environmental protection.
Most of the CSRs embarked on by Corporate organisations target their immediate environment in the short term and the larger society in the long term.
With this, the government at various levels in the country can capitalise on the several engagements of the private sector to meet the needs of the people right from the grassroots level.
Doing this will encourage development at such levels and help leverage the opportunities.
While it is not to be seen as the relegation of duties by the government, it will involve collaborations and partnering on different levels and various issues to harness human and material resources for the common purpose of ensuring a good livelihood for the people.
This, among other things, will bring the government closer to its people, thus giving a sense of belonging, which makes the people participants in building a good society; hence they can contribute their quota without being forced or coerced.
For instance, between 2014 and 2019, Zenith Bank spent over N12 billion on CSR investments in Nigeria, mainly in their host communities.
The investments were spread across five areas Health, Education, youth empowerment, Government/public infrastructure and policy and other projects.
In the health sector, it provided maternal healthcare and medical support to members of its host communities. In such instances, local authorities who manage the health care centres can build on what has been done by taking adequate data and providing other necessary equipment and facilities to ensure the sustainability of the Primary Health Care centres at the grassroots level.
Also, The bank invested about N1.42billion to support the government and agencies of government at different levels in 2019.
The support complemented the government’s efforts in securing lives and properties and providing infrastructure to aid development.
While that is just one out of the several corporate entities in the country, building on such initiatives by continuing or collaborating to improve on them will go a long way towards meaningful development across the country.
To get the best out of the Corporate organisations in the form of CSRs, the Nigerian government also needs to ensure a conducive business environment for the organisations to thrive.
This is important as the more they thrive, the more they become morally obliged to do more for their immediate environment.
Another critical point to note is that Nigeria is still far behind in CSR promotion strategies. Just as pointed out earlier that there is no particular law governing CSR in the country, and most actions undertaken by organisations have been done with no standard guidelines, governmental support, or independent verification.
This inadequacy does not augur well for a developing economy like Nigeria, so to address the issue and make effective use of all CSR initiatives by companies and organisations, the Nigerian government needs to be more proactive in CSR regulations and have clear cut directions, policies and operational frameworks for companies such that government can capitalise on for further activities.