Global Rights: Private Sector Needs To Partner With Civil Society To Advocate For A Safe Domain For Business And Human Rights In Nigeria

Abiodun Baiyewu, Global Rights Country Director
Photo credit: DotunRoy

This year's Global Rights annual National Business and Human Rights Roundtable (NBH2R) took place in Abuja on the 22nd of September,  2021.  The main theme of the day tagged  “Insecurity In Nigeria and the Shrinking Civic Space - A case for Incentivizing Business Support for Civic Freedom and Human Rights”

Global Rights Nigeria, through its National Business and Human Rights Roundtable is tasked with the core mandate to provide strategic direction for the participation of different sectors (business, CSOs, government and media) on the National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights; to promote the ethos of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and also ensure strategic stakeholder engagements around the National Action Plan (NAP) for Business and Human Rights in Nigeria.

The Roundtable have  also been committed to creating an awareness of the nexus between business and human rights and to promote sustainability standards for Nigeria’s extractive industry among others thus, the vital role of Civil Society Organizations and Human Rights Defenders in holding the government accountable for the recent spike in insecurity within Nigeria.

Ms Abiodun Baiyewu, Global Rights Country Director, in her opening speech stated "that insecurity has negatively impacted businesses in most parts of Nigeria, many have witnessed it and it poses a major concern".

Mr Soji Apampa who is the chairman of the National Business and Human Rights Roundtable (NBH2R) in his welcome address stated that "Businesses in Nigeria does not weigh in on Business and Human Rights issues not because they do not care but they are trying to lay low and do business in the midst of the frustrations"

Amara Nwankpa, the coordinator, Public Policy Inintiatives at the Yar'Adua Foundation in his presentation titled "Understanding the Nexus Between Business and the Civic Space" made the following remark

"Shrinking the civic space has financial implications for business" taking examples from the concluded ENDSARS protest where many who participated had their bank accounts frozen unjustly and the unjustified ban of Twitter in Nigeria considering that they are licensed to operate and many others..

"Private sector must show solidarity with civil society organizations to fight against unjust government policies or demands to shrink them" Amara said.

In closing, Amara made recommendations on what private sector must do about the shrinking civic space in Nigeria by stating that:

Private sector must build capacity by investing in civic engagements

Private Sector should exert influence over government by having                         conversations around business and human rights that involves government,         businesses and CSOs connection and balance

⦁      To protect the bottomline, private sector needs to protect the civic space               and vice versa.

At the end of the discuss, it was agreed that civil society arm themselves with the knowledge of their fundamental human rights, build advocacy, reach out to the private sector while providing support on the basis that private sector also do same.