26 July 2018

Nigeria: Create Human Rights-Friendly Business Environment, Govt Urged

Abuja — The President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has been enjoined to create a safe, enabling and secure environment that will enhance business and at the same time ensure that such business does not violate basic human rights.

This was the highlight of a National Business and Human Rights Roundtable on 'The role of Governance Stakeholders Engagement on Business and Human Rights', organised by the Global Rights, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) in partnership with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in a bid to avert business-related human rights infringement in Nigeria.

Speaking in Abuja recently, the Country Director of Global Rights, Mrs. Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru, explained that on a daily basis there are cases where human rights are being violated in the course of doing businesses.

Baiyewu-Teru noted that over the course of time business activities have impacted negatively on the rights of Nigerians.

She urged that businesses should be properly scrutinised in their operation to ensure that they are pro-human rights rather than anti-human rights.

She said: "There is the case of more than 700 children that died in Zamfara state and the 27 children that died in Niger state as a result of gold mining-related lead poisoning. On daily basis, children on our streets are selling things rather than going to school.

"You need to look at the conditions of service in a lot of companies where people don't even get a day off and the hours, conditions of service are very poor, even the cases of the herdsmen versus farmer crisis."

Bayeiwu-Teru added that the deaths of the children and other violations such as security infringement, women's right, child labour, toxic waste disposal, community health, and consumer rights among others, could have been prevented if there was a strong framework with guiding principles to protect, respect and to remedy.

"Nigeria was one of the 12 countries that supported the development of the UN Guiding Principles. Till date, however, the country is still in the early stages of adopting a National Action Plan (NAP)," she said.

She noted that the key holders in the implementation of this action plan are government agencies and the Parliament.

She also stressed that government is mandated by the constitution to secure, advance the protection and welfare of the citizenry, adding that they must also work to advance their economic growth.

"Nigeria's prospects of economic prosperity have been attractive to business investors in diverse sectors both local and international. Unarguably, business has been a force for our good job creation, revenue generation, transfer of technology, production of goods and services, contribution to gross domestic product and economic growth. However, if we must do business right, human rights must be contextualised, thus this is where government comes in," she remarked.

Also speaking, the representative of Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mrs. Pwadumui Okoh, emphasised that human rights cannot be guaranteed without a sense of livelihood.

"You can't bring businesses to states, communities without providing enabling environment. Standards also have to be out in place, so that when they are breached, you give remedy to the citizens," Okoh noted.

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