CONiTA 2018

Photo of some of the Participants

It was a wholesome activities at the last week’s Conference of Nigeria Trade Associations 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria which attracted diverse thought leaders in the government sectors, service industry and business executives from the formal and informal sector, all committed to tackling pressing challenges to inclusive growth, shared prosperity and identifying traits for good governance and proffering solutions for the actualization of sustainable development goals in Nigeria.

It was a foremost conference in Nigeria, themed ‘Harnessing the Power of Trade Associations for Good Governance, Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity’ held at the LCCI Conference and Exhibition Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.

The conference focused on sustainable business in Nigeria, with the aim to drive honest conversation and generate dialogue around critical issues. Conversation focused around some of the changes we see in today’s governance and leadership world such as challenging economic times, volatile gruesome events, deteriorating communities, a growing social divide and rapid-changing technology. It was highlighted that strategies to subdue these risks will be a huge factor for business survival day by day.

Speakers that contributed to the one-day conference included some of the most influential people driving inclusive growth across Nigeria and the rest of the world.  Keynotes included Mr. Alex Nwuba, Managing Director, Smile Air, Nigeria – Ghana who is now the Africa CEO of Palewater Advisory Group Inc, United States of America dwelled on power of trade associations in fostering good governance, inclusive growth and shared prosperity, where he categorized Nigeria as a social market economy and x-rayed the Article 21 of the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” also emphasizing on the Lockean application of “We the People”. Mr. Alex presented compilations of model on good governance linked with the UN eight principles and focused on principle number 4 Equity and Inclusiveness. Inclusive growth is a concept that advances equitable opportunities for economic participants during economic growth with benefits incurred by every section of a society beyond traditional economic growth models to include focus on the equity of: Health; Human capital to produce economic value; Environmental quality, Social protection, policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability, food security; tarry needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. He pointed that the great challenge we have is that people who need to benefit from this inclusive growth and shared prosperity lives in the communities where productivity is low, unemployment is high, job are not easy to come by and very insecure, there are many agrarian and therefore our policies need to reflect the status of this communities and address the needs of those people if we are to derive the concept of shared prosperity championed by the sustainable development goals.

Bolanle Titilola a sustainable development expert spoke about the importance of a circular economy; in her presentation titled ‘building resilient economic system through circular economy approach’. She compared it with a linear economy and identified the inherent opportunities for inclusive growth, shared prosperity and the driving force for good governance in a circular economy.  She submitted that Nigeria must immediately join “the next wave of development” by building a resilient economic system through decoupling growth from the consumption of finite resources.

Mr. Nelson Obine the convener of the conference thanked Chief Iniobong Jackson, Technical Adviser to Africa Free Zones Association, Dr. Kayode Farinto, Vice president, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents for being among the first group of individuals to believe and buy into the vision and sharing experiences on good governance, inclusive growth and shared prosperity. He applauded Mr. Babatunde Babatunde Irukera, the Director General of Consumer Protection Council; and RT. Hon. (Barr.) Emmanuel Jime, Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority who had demonstrated exceptional leadership traits in the domain of good governance; regulatory activities that has powered sustainable development.

Mr. Uade  Ahimie, an author, corporate governance strategist and Managing Director of Accounting Lab said today, the only static thing is change and this is the time to change the Perception of Corruption in Nigeria. Let’s name and fame the integrity of our systems and institutions driving the “ANTI-CORRUPTION EPIDEMIC”. He started with the rules of epidemic guided by the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context. He introduced a new culture called CRAPI FART as a perspective for emerging market. CRAPI is acronyms that stands for Corporate Law; Risk Management; Accounting and Finance, Project Governance; Internal Audit; these are the keys to business governance and business sustainability. He stressed that lots of the conglomerate we are seeing today started as a small business driven by one man. There is therefore need to create a platform where professional services such as legal, accounting services etc can be sourced with ease and at a cheaper rate; where small businesses especially the informal sector can be sourced. This will in turn generate employment, inclusive economic growth, and more revenue to the government through simple tax collection system, hence shared prosperity for sustainable development are ensured. FART is an acronym for the following: Fairness; Accountability; Responsibility; Transparency which is another key factor to business governance and business sustainability across diverse trade associations and industry.

Feeding questions from the participants; Mr. Wale Thompson of the Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment shared the Ministry’s experiences with diverse artisans and trade associations from the local government domain to the zonal and state level. He noted that without wealth, there can be no employment. And stressed further on behalf of the Commissioner Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile that the vision of the Ministry is to create sustainable wealth in partnership with relevant stakeholders. The Ministry predominately has entrepreneurship development and employment promotion; in effort to ensure inclusive growth, the Ministry provided employability training to make its participants majorly from the informal sector employable and thus create wealth and consequently economic development. The size of Nigeria’s informal economy stands at 65% of GDP according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement in 2017, this number has since risen which stresses the importance of sustainable development goal number 17; partnership for development, and the number one Aspiration of Africa 2063 Agenda; a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development implemented at national level with a global focus.