How to lobby regulators and navigate regulatory constraints

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In recent times, stakeholder management has become particularly important for businesses in Nigeria partly because of the increasing complexities of the political and business environment and the difficulty in navigating the murky waters of stifling regulation in Nigeria’s business environment.

These stakeholders include Governments at all levels, communities, consumers, and others. Lobbying has existed for centuries, however, in light of the Nigerian Government’s recent regulations across a number of sectors, it is imperative for businesses to up the ante with respect to influencing policies and laws within their operational domain.

The grand objective of such engagements is to sway legislation and policies in favour of your business. Essentially, lobbying in this context refers to the attempts of business owners to influence decisions made by the government, legislators or members of regulatory agencies. These activities can take a variety of forms, from professional lobbying on the part of specialised public affairs or legal firms to in-house lobbying undertaken by associations and NGOs, as well as the work of thinktanks in lobbying for certain ideas.

Why your business should lobby

To understand the techniques businesses employ to lobby for their interests, as well as the lengths to which they are prepared to go to safeguard these interests, we need to understand their incentives for doing so. There are three main rationales for businesses to develop a lobbying strategy:

  • To achieve their business goals and sway regulation in their favour
  • To respond to organisational needs
  • To react to contextual pressures

Alongside advertising, public affairs and market communications, lobbying public decision-makers should also be a key component of your efforts as a business owner to maintain bottomline. In fact, according to a study of lobbying and public affairs in Europe, “in the global marketplace, to be competitive means increasingly being able to exert pressure on the government.”

Lobbying strategies – direct and indirect lobbying

There are two lobbying approaches for businesses to consider. Most lobbying approaches target decision-makers directly in an attempt to influence outcomes. Lobbying tactics that attempt to sway the outcome of a tender are almost invariably direct. Indirect approaches are more likely to be coordinated, industry-wide attempts to change the narrative around a given policy issue, and may include the establishment of front groups and the use of favoured “third-party” experts to disseminate industry-friendly material.

Direct lobbying

Lobbying strategies and tactics for businesses vary widely. What is common to nearly all of them, regardless of the political system a firm is operating in, is the importance of developing close personal contacts with public officials. Direct lobbying can come in any of the following forms:

Cultivating relationships with public officials

This relationship forms the interface between your business and the Government, and the more skilful you are at nurturing personal contacts with public officials, the more effective your business is likely to be at conveying its core demands to government.

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Provision of expertise

Another way to lobby regulators is to seize any opportunity to provide “expertise” to government. One such channel is presented by the vast array of advisory groups that governments set up from time to time to provide advice on technical matters. An alternative tactic you can employ is to try to steer forthcoming laws by providing sympathetic legislators with specific amendments to draft legislation. Reportedly, some companies sometimes hire law firms to draft the amendments to make them look as professional as possible so that politicians can pass them off as their own work.

The revolving door

The “revolving door” can also be seen as part of a lobbying strategy for your business. This typically happens where a company or lobbying firm recruits ex-officials to exploit their good contacts and insider knowledge, or someone from the industry moves into an influential position in a public body. In some cases, the new public official is tasked with regulating the very same firms they previously worked for. After a period in public employment, they may then move back to the private sector.

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Gifts and hospitality

Another form of direct lobbying involves companies providing public officials or legislators with gifts and hospitality. This could range from expensive dinners and presents to all-expenses paid trips to speak at an industry event. Such actions are often an attempt to curry favour with officials, in the hope that they will then reciprocate this “generosity” by looking kindly when overseeing and regulating the company.

Indirect lobbying

Engaging like-minded companies

Indirect approaches to lobbying tend to rely on coordinated, industry-wide attempts, in which firms ally with market competitors to ensure business-friendly outcomes. In fact, most large corporates lobby both individually to pursue their specific interests and as part of broader industry coalitions.

Flexing economic muscle

A common lobbying tactic using “outsider” channels is for businesses to seek to influence public policy by publicly warning of the effect a proposed measure would have on the market and especially on job losses. Vocal expressions of displeasure can be an effective means of killing off initiatives to which business is opposed.

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The bottom line

Political power is essentially about influencing. It is about persuading the lawmakers to your cause – lobbying for your specific interests. Businesses, just as individuals, want to persuade the decision-makers that their ideas, needs and desires deserve a fair hearing.

For your business to become a force within the lobbying landscape, one would need skills such as networking, research, design/systems thinking, negotiation, communication (both oral and verbal) alongside core technical skills required for drafting and analysing laws or policies.



Raheem Adebayo

Business

Lagos agricultural sector to generate $10 billion in the next 5 years

The agricultural sector in Lagos state is projected to generate as much as $10 billion within the next 5 years.

Published

11 hours ago

on

April 22, 2021

By

Chike Olisah
Lagos, Sanwo-Olu, Businesses that must remain closed after May 4+1

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has projected that the agricultural sector in the state could generate as much as $10 billion within the next 5 years.

This is as the governor noted that Lagos could no longer afford to rely exclusively on other states for its food, adding that it was time to unlock its immeasurable agricultural potential through the implementation of the 5-year roadmap.

This disclosure was made by the Governor at the formal launch of the state’s 5-year Agricultural and Food Systems Roadmap, on Thursday, adding that most of the investments would be private sector-driven while the government acts as the catalyst and enabler.

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Governor Sanwo-Olu opined that the Roadmap would also lead to wealth generation, value creation, food security, the industrialisation of the agricultural sector and the entrenchment of inclusive socio-economic development of the state.

He said that the roadmap essentially focuses on 3 pillars, which are: growth of the upstream sector, growth of the midstream and downstream sectors as well as improvement of private sector participation.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu, in his words, said, “Our strategies for sustainable Agricultural Development shall focus on three pillars. First, we will grow the upstream sector through interventions by leveraging technologies that are capable of lowering the cost of production of value chains; Focus on growing the midstream and downstream sectors that are of value and lastly, we will improve on private sector participation by developing and initiating policies that will encourage more private investments in agriculture.”

The projection is that the total investment in the Agricultural Sector from the government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, the government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.’

The governor pointed out that the state had already started the revamping of its Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to support investment in agriculture, giving assurance that the coconut belt would also be strengthened with increased private sector involvement.

Sanwo-Olu listed some State’s landmark investments that will aid smooth delivery of the Roadmap to include the Lagos State Aquatic Centre of Excellence (LACE) that would boost fish production from 20% to 80%, the Imota Rice Mill, the Lagos Food Production Centre Avia, Igborosu-Badagry as well as other statewide agriculture-focused initiatives.

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He said, “I am greatly encouraged by the interest already generated in the Five-Year Agricultural Roadmap and I hope it will be sustained and backed with concrete action on the part of our development partners and the international community. I assure you that the Lagos State Government is putting in place deliberate incentives to make your investment safe, secure and profitable.’

Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged potential and established stakeholders in the agricultural sector to partner with the state in order to transform the agricultural sector for food security, wealth generation, poverty eradication, economic diversification, rapid industrialisation and accelerated socio-economic growth.

Bottom line

This is a very laudable initiative from the Lagos State Government especially at a time the country is looking at diversifying its economy. The successful implementation of this programme with the expected benefits from the value chain will contribute significantly to the economic development of the state and the country in general.

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The investment in the transformation of agriculture to agribusiness is one way of achieving the dream of attaining self-sufficiency in food production and creating more wealth.

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Business

Bank needs to humanise customers – Aladdin CEO

Every customer needs a unique page where their details go beyond the account numbers.

Published

13 hours ago

on

April 22, 2021

By

Abiola Odutola
Customer, business, Polarization: How, attract, right, customers, ‘’wrong’,’ ones, out, A guide to identifying your profitable customers and improving your sales (1), customers, Customer Service: 9 ways to go from zero to hero in no time, How to implement customer feedback that will skyrocket your business growth

Nigerian banks have been tasked to humanise all customers and not only treat them as just an account number. This is to say that banks should treat each customer uniquely and not assume a one-size-fits-all.

These are the comments of the Chief Executive Officer, Aladdin Digital Bank, Darlington Onyeagoro. According to him, the continent, especially Nigeria needs a marketplace Digital Bank to humanise customers, a vacuum he said Aladdin will occupy.

He said, “By humanizing customers, we are putting a face to the name. You are not just an account number, you are a human being, and as humans, you need to eat, make money and other things.

“Each customer is unique; that is why for the first time, we are breaking barriers so we can reach each one personally. We run a platform structure where every customer has a unique page where their details go beyond the account numbers.”

He added that Aladdin Finance App, which is powered by PurpleMoney Microfinance Bank, will also be offering its customers free banking with no charge rates, where customers can carry out their transfers and transactions to other banks for free.

“Traditional banks charge N25 per transfer, but we are charging Zero Naira for now. We bear the cost for now. So, we offer free banking for at least between one to three months of our operation to encourage them. All transactions are free for now,” Onyeagoro added.

The app also has several features that will cater to each customer, including seamless customer service, rewards on savings, high-interest rates up to 16% (subject to money market reality), and access to different types of loans for emergencies.

To encourage savings for customers to meet their business and personal needs, Aladdin Bank will also be rewarding its customers through a weekly raffle draw on its online platform, where amounts saved from N5,000 and above with the bank will give each customer a virtual ticket for a raffle draw.

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“In that way, we are encouraging our customers to save towards their goals. For example, if you want to travel, pay your rent, children’s school fees, etc., whatever you want to do, you can set targets for yourself and save towards it. So, while you are saving towards your target, we are also paying you a competitive interest rate,” he added.

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What you should know

The co-founders and chief promoters of this project are Onyeagoro, Olayemi Nasiru and Avi Umukoro. Nasiru is a seasoned banker with over a decade of experience. He once held a Senior Management Position in one of the top commercial banks in Nigeria.

Umukoro, another top-flight banker, has over 12 years of consumer banking experience in one of the top-performing banks.


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