Osibanjo, Awosika Urge Businesses to Embrace Ethics

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Dike Onwuamaeze
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo has called on Nigerian corporate leaders to view strong ethical and moral values as building-blocks for profitable and sustainable businesses.
Osibanjo made the call recently as the guest of honour at the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria’s 2020 Annual Directors’ Conference with the theme, “Business Ethics, Leadership, and Sustainability as New frontiers of Corporate Governance.”

He said the theme of the conference would challenge Nigerian business leaders to conquer, in their own interest, the new frontiers of business ethics, ethical leadership and sustainability by believing, “the evidence that business ethics are not just moral preaching but important foundation for profitable and sustainable businesses in the 21 century.”

The Vice President pointed out that sound, “business ethics is as crucial as the bottom line in delivering profitability and successful economy,” and warned that cutting corners and persistence in dishonesty and sharp practices could, “bring down a whole business enterprise as has been seen in the collapse of many Nigerian financial institutions in the banking sector in the 1990s and 2009.

“Yes, it took a while for these institutions to unravel but the point has been made that on the long run unethical practices are unsustainable.
“Companies must now show that they are not only profitable but are good by their measures of character and concern for the environment and society.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, who spoke on: “The Nexus between Ethical Leadership and Corporate Governance Practice,” during the conference, said that “business without ethics is destructive.”

Awosika said: “Without proper governance and ethical practice in an organisation you might succeed for a short while and even get away with it for quite a time but the moment of reckoning will always come when everything can fall apart.
“As the chairman of a 126 year old organisation, I can say that the only reason the First Bank has survived this far is that over time various people who steered the ship of the organisation are committed to doing things right by setting certain values and practices within the organisation that give it the strength and character to last for this long.

“And every time our leadership has taken its eyes from the things that have helped us to build for this long, we pay a high price for those distractions. We, definitely, will tell you that it worth everything to build right, practice right and to continue to ensure that the organisation is well run by finding the right people to continue to keep the right practices of the organisation.”

In his welcome address, the President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the IoD Nigeria, Mr. Chris Okunowo, said for the country to move forward from the crossroads it found itself, “we must find ways of removing market imperfections that make it easy for the few to amass wealth unfairly, while the weak and the poor are exposed to more vulnerabilities that deny them human security.”

Okonowo pointed out that this, “requires bringing professionalism back into our national life. What we see and condemn in Nigeria today, the mindlessly reckless impunity in state and society, is to a large extent because we have abandoned, as professionals, our professional ethics for the lure of crass materialism, setting the wrong examples to the rest of the society. Unless we bring professionalism ethics back as our compass, we shall make the wrong turn at our present crossroad and head towards disaster.”