Mr. Dele Alimi is the Chief Executive Officer/ Director – General of Institute Of Directors (IoD) Nigeria. In this conversation, he reflected on the business environment in the year 2020, and the Institute’s expectations in 2021.
By Henry Daniel
So many things happened in 2020 – the global pandemic, insecurity, retrenchment of workers, some companies were allowed to operate, others restricted. What’s your take on this?
The challenges within the Nigerian economy outdates the Covid 19 pandemic. As you are aware the Nigerian economy has faced the challenges of poor infrastructure, insecurity, poor business environment, etc. 2020 and the advent of Covid 19 only complicated and further challenged our already fragile economy.
It was therefore more challenging in different ways because no economy was prepared for the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the inability of some organizations to quickly adjust their systems and operations to conform with the new realities led to poor responses from such companies which led to job losses and shutdowns in some cases.
One must however allude to the fact that some sectors were worst hit, for example, the aviation industry, the tourism industry, and to some extent the entertainment industry.
But as we’re all aware, it’s only an ill wind that blows nobody good. I believe quite a lot of lessons have been learned and organizations are reviewing their Business continuity models to take due cognizance of possibilities of incidences like the pandemic.
These models are looking at how businesses would continue to run virtually and how staff can work remotely without an adverse effect on productivity. For me, I think this is part of the many lessons and take away from 2020.
Now how did covid-19, insecurity, and other incidents affect you as an Institute?
As you are aware, IoD Nigeria is a membership organization that is unique in various ways, a major one being that our membership is made up of Directors across public and private sectors and from diverse industries. Whatever affects our members, definitely affects our Institute. We, therefore, feel the pinch, when our members are challenged.
As an institute, therefore, we have responded by providing the support our members need. We organized programmed that addressed the challenges at these times and proffered solutions that members can exploit.
We were one of the first organizations to embrace virtual learning as an alternative to physical classroom settings, even for our foreign programs.
We have therefore continued to run our Directors Development Programmes despite the restrictions. We have also adjusted the curricula of our capacity development programs to accommodate specific contents that addressed the challenges of the pandemic.
What is your economic outlook for 2021?
We are looking at 2021 with a lot of optimism. Though one is worried about the new spate of infection, which is now being regarded as a second wave of the pandemic, we’re hopeful that with a serious approach and quick intervention from the government, this would be quickly nipped in the bud and we will be able to avoid another lockdown of the economy.
We, therefore, hope that with the early passage of the 2021 Appropriation bill and the continued implementation of the 2020 budget up till the end of the first quarter of 2021, there would be robust spending and this would open up the economy to a large extend and encourage better liquidity. The Institute would continue to encourage its members and provide the support expected from us.
” Government need to urgently work on the breakdown in the social contract between it and the people. “
For a stable macro and fiscal environment this year, what advice would you give the federal government?
It is quite clear that Nigeria needs to tackle its major challenges of infrastructure deficiencies, rising inflation, devaluation of the Naira, and insecurity among others.
The government needs to urgently work on the breakdown in the social contract between it and the people.
The social contract between the government and the people seems to have broken down completely and the people have almost lost faith in their leaders.
There is therefore a need for the government to work on rebuilding the confidence of the people through social security programs and welfare programs that would be easily accessible to the people.
The government needs the support of the people to achieve its programs and a well-oiled and mutually beneficial social contract will go a long way to make that happen.
The commitment must also be made to the reduction in the cost of governance as this is also impacting negatively on the availability of funds for the development of infrastructure.