The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on private sector operatives to get actively involved in the democratic and electoral processes to ensure the growth and development of the nation.
Mr Babatunde Ruwase, President of LCCI, made the call during the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)/Private Sector Forum on Tuesday in Lagos.
He said the private sector could not continue to be spectators in the democratic and electoral process, as the political environment had a profound impact on the environment and performance of businesses.
“The quality of political governance has implications for the sustainability and prosperity of our businesses.
“It is the politicians that determine the quality of economic policies; it is the politicians that determine the quality of institutions, they determine the quality of investment policies and appropriate resources of the state.
“Invariably, our destiny is in the hands of the political class. That is why we need to get involved,” he said.
According to him, better private sector participation in democratic and electoral processes will surely impact positively on the quality of the political actors.
He urged the business community to get their PVCs; mobilise people in various constituencies to get their PVCs, stand for elections at all levels and offer their services as volunteers to INEC.
“It may not be easy, but this is the way we can make an impact on the way the country is governed,” he said.
Ruwase said the business community seeks political governance that sets a framework for transparency, openness and level playing field for all economic players.
He also called on the Federal Government encourage local procurement of electoral materials to boost job creation and economic growth.
He said the country had the capacity and competence to meet the needs of INEC for the elections.
“Promotion of local content is a cardinal policy of the present administration and we request that the procurements by INEC should reflect this disposition,” Ruwase said.
Also speaking at the forum, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director, Sterling Bank, said the notion that private sector operators were apolitical should be corrected because more than 80 per cent of the GDP was concentrated in the private sector.
“If we do not participate in governance, our existence is at risk, and we should not complain about electoral outcome,” he said.
According to him, wealth creation should be given priority as against wealth distribution as presently practised by politicians, and that the involvement of more private sector operators in governance would change the narrative.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of INEC, acknowledged that the private sector had a stake in the country’s democracy.
“The business community is one of the biggest beneficiaries of stable political and economic environment resulting from the conduct of peaceful and credible elections.
“It is also often a victim of political instability and unpredictable economic environment arising from flawed elections. Acts of violence often target businesses in a profoundly damaging manner.
“Uncertainty generally, and one arising from the conduct of elections in particular, is not good for business.
“It makes the task of safeguarding existing investment and attracting new investors even more difficult. Businesses thrive best in an atmosphere of peace and certainty,” he said.
Yakubu assured the private sector of patronage, noting that the commission was aware of local capacities and competencies, and would collaborate to explore their expertise.