The Nigerian political space has a significant impact on businesses and their survival. This article proposes ways to navigate the political system in order to retain relevance without losing focus and direction.
Political will is a strong and potent force with potential impact on business growth and survival. This is because it largely decides policies and strategies that create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. No wonder it is listed as a core environment for business in PESTLE, SWOT, SCOT analyses amongst others.
Political power influences legislations and capital flows, determines available infrastructure, specifies regulations, oversees compliance, and prescribes acceptable behaviours. Entrepreneurs must therefore ensure that they always carry a more-than-average understanding of the Nigerian political space, even if they desire to remain apolitical. Entrepreneurs must give themselves to understanding the:
1. Impact of political activities, seasons, and calendar on their businesses
This is necessary to plan business activities and maximise value. Political activities can disrupt or facilitate business operations hence understanding the political calendar will improve business planning and operational level activities.
2. Dynamics and structure of government at the federal, state, and local levels including the branches of government – executive, legislature, and judiciary
Due to the nature of the Nigerian constitution, each level/tier and arm/branch of government have coverage and limits. An understanding of these scopes and how they influence business processes, decisions, and operations are of significant value to businesses. An example is tax such that there are different relevant tax authorities for different categories of taxes. There are many other issues that fall within the purview of different tiers of government.
3. Influence of governance on policies and strategies that impact their businesses
Political processes have a significant influence on businesses. No wonder there is a global index for measuring nations’ ease of doing business. The governance structure in place to facilitate business is significant. For example, understanding the provisions of the Free Trade Zone, Pioneer Status, Business Ownership, and the likes are significant for businesses.
4. The interplay of politics and economy
Political power can influence foreign exchange, foreign direct investment, transfer pricing, remittances, and other economic variables. A good understanding of these dynamics will help businesses stay ahead of their game.
The above knowledge requirements are significant, because one policy of government can halt a business. Many business owners especially newbies might retort that they are uninterested in politics, but it is imperative to understand that business is highly dependent on an ecosystem where political power wields significant influence.
I highlight few things you can do to ensure that you understand how politics impacts your business and ensure that your business survives any political backlash:
- Subscribe to credible (time-tested) sources for up-to-date political information and analysis.
- Despite your personal views on politics, try not to bring your bias into your business operations especially when relating with governments.
- Retain the services of lawyers and accountants. Amongst other things, lawyers can help you understand the effect of specific legislations on your business, while Accountants can help you with compliance to especially financial regulations.
- For companies, it might be significant to appoint someone with requisite political wisdom to your board.
Politics is a tricky space that requires requisite wisdom to navigate and remain relevant. No matter what you do, do not undermine the weight of political power on your business.