By Nkiruka Nnorom
THE Chief Executive Officer of Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole, has called on private sector operators in the country to explore business collaborations and partnerships with like minded individuals to rebuild their businesses and in extension, the economy in the face of the current economic recession.
He spoke at the First Bank of Nigeria 2017 CEO Forum themed ‘Exploring Sustainability & innovation Opportunities in Turbulent Environment’, in Lagos, saying that one of the greatest undoing of Nigeria businessmen is the negative perception in the international community. He encouraged entrepreneurs to do away with the phobia and lack of trust associated with partnership ventures among Nigerians, saying that it would help to strengthen their businesses and drive positive response from the global community.
Cole further stated that the recession offers opportunity for transformational leaders to expand beyond a single business line and their operational base to guard against policy shocks and reverberations of economic crisis such as the country is into.
He said: “Trust is something that we find difficult to extend now, we don’t trust anybody, not even our family members. So, we approach everyone and every deal with suspicion. ‘What does he really want. All these things he is talking bout, what does he really want.’ So as a result of this, we operate in silos.
“Because of the way we operate in silos in Nigeria, we are not making impact at the level we want to. And so what do we do? We have to come together, collaborate and make huge difference and when we have made that difference at a national level and take it to a global level, we attract respect positively in the business environment that we operate in.” He also emphasised the need for power of foresight, saying that Nigeria wouldn’t have been in the present condition if those at the corridors of power had applied foresight in tackling the challenges that led to the recession.
He listed other critical factors that would help businesses to survive the turbulent times to include good and lasting relationships, consistent engagement with government on issues affecting business operation in the country by private sector operators and mentoring among others.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, MD/CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, expressed optimism that the forum would generate innovative and creative ideas that would drive increasingly forward-looking solutions in the market place.
“Tough times demand innovation and creativity. Business leaders need to persist in examining the numerous challenges impeding sectoral and global traction and proffer sustainable solutions that will enhance growth and development.
We should be able to enhance leadership and employees capabilities, re-examine business models I the new normal of globalisation and do all of this against the backdrop provided by the resurgence of nationalism and protectionism,” he said.
“A while before the current recession set in, we at First Bank had initiated programmes to optimise efficiencies in our business operations, in particular, to strength service delivery excellence across our businesses value chain,” Adeduntan added.
The CEO Forum is organised by the First Bank Sustainability Centre to facilitate discussions among business and other organisational leaders in order to contextualise global developments impacting the economy and businesses as well as explore sustainable solutions to surmount challenges impeding growth and development.