Future :  COVID-19 has thrown up complications in businesses – Don 



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By Simeon Mpamugoh

University of Lagos Professor of Business Administration Sulaimon Abdul-Hameed Adeola has noted  that with the latest world bank report on Nigeria, which stated that 7.5 million people in Nigeria has slide into extreme poverty in the last one year,  Nigeria rated as almost the poverty capital of the world, even though the Nigerian government claims the contrary that they have moved 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years, the

Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) warning that the rising rate of unemployment is worsening the poverty rate with the Naira exchanging at 410.33 Naira to the dollar as at 18th of June 2021 officially and 503 Naira at the parallel market,  gross domestic product (GDP) growing at less than half of the population growth rate, foreign direct investment ( FDI) plummeting, insecurity worsening by lack of employment for the teeming population and palpable fear in the land, no one needs an expert to tell one  that it is time to restructure businesses for survival and sustainability.

Professor Abdul-Hameed Adeola stated this at this year’s edition of the Distinguished Management Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) Chartered in Lagos.

Entitled: ‘Restructuring Businesses for Sustainability in the Pandemic Era,’ the Don added that  this has become imperative  to rebuild the  economy that was weak before the COVID-19 pandemic which further worsen in this yet to be abated pandemic, let alone, the post-COVID-19 era that would  come with another unknown challenges.

A  fellow of the institute, he  revealed  that investors divestment in Nigeria costs stock market N1.8tr in six months, even as market capitalisation which stood at N21.515Tr as at January 5 2021 when market reopened for transactions for the year, dropped to N19.725 Tr as at close of trading on June 22, 2021.

He said. “It is very convenient to hold COVID-19 responsible for all that has happened in the last year but for a fact, our economy and businesses were already nose diving and businesses going into extinction before the advent of the pandemic.There is clearly  an existential threat to our lives and livelihood if urgent steps are not taken. “Many economic experts view COVID-19 pandemic as a metaphorical “black swan” occurrence that is propelling huge tendency of business failures,  the  International Labour Organization (ILO) projected that COVID-19 could wipe out roughly 6.7 percent of working hours globally,  equalling  to 195 million full-time workers while  huge decreases are foreseen in the Arab States 8.1 % equivalent to 5 million full-time workers, Europe,7.8 % or 12 million full-time workers and Asia and the Pacific 7.2% or 125 million full-time workforces.”

Also on the global front, he stated that global foreign FDI flows would  drop significantly during 2020-2021 adding that the  scenario, presents  a very gloomy picture of the entire world and

depict huge complication for businesses across sectors, that can affect their sustainability hence Nigeria was  not immuned from this, but needed  to ensure that deliberate efforts were  made to reduce the suffering of its citizens in this uncommon time of the world.

He urged business organizations  to address fundamental questions on how to effectively deal with diverse dimensions of sustainability, namely, social, economic and environment even as he reiterated that COVID 19 pandemic has thrown up many complications and challenges in addressing the diverse elements of business sustainability. “It is therefore a matter of urgency for respective actions comprising a fundamental shift in the

tenacity of business and almost every facet of how it is conducted, and  an assimilation of sustainability in firm’s business model to be taken seriously as  sustainability is no self-sacrificing end in itself, but  relevant transformation must resonate with firm’s economic circumstances and their position in the market.”

He called for the integration of well-established “Crisis Management” and business remodeling that would enable organizations  to deduce valuable insights and create an appropriate sustainability model that has potency in promoting endurable enterprises risk management during crisis such as COVID-19.

The renowned public affairs analyst noted that  COVID-19 pandemic opened great flaws in the current business models and operations of many businesses, adding,  “Even though contingency and risk management

strategies exist in most business enterprises, the immediate impacts of COVID 19 crisis and failure in minimum performance criteria indicate that the implementation of the existing

programs/business models of most firms are inappropriate and  do not have future contingency that is of practical value.”

On the event served via zoom, Professor Abdul-Hameed Adeola recommended in the present circumstance that the government needed  to sufficiently encourage and empower the local pharmaceuticals companies to partner with producers of COVID-19 vaccine with the likes of Pfizer-bioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna etc. to have the vaccines produced locally, in ordervto make it available for the population so as to arrest the spread of the pandemic and by extension create jobs in that sector.

He observed that the government has set up a committee with members drawn from the ministry of industry, trade and investments, chambers of commerce and industry as well as  the central bank of Nigeria to grant them loan with single digit and some months moratorium in what he code named “Businesses resuscitation and revitalization committee” with the mandate to identify critical sector most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic and group them into categories in terms of their capacity to provide jobs, revitalize the economy and mitigate the insecurity pervading the land, this he says should be made to work effectively.

“One of the most likely aftermaths of COVID 19 is economic recession, thus, enterprises will need customers with cash to spend. Unconditional cash transfers that is presently in place should be intensified and enlarged to cover all states of the federation

throughout the crisis until the economy starts recovering.

“Government may also consider tax incentive, increase the infrastructure drive, improve on the security architecture by way of more equipment, more personnel and retraining to meet the exigency of the time.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous businesses and countries have discovered how susceptible they are to disruptions in supplies that are concentrated in one or a few contexts, on this note, there is need for governments having substantial economic ties to organize rapid and effective digital market platforms to lessen transaction costs and propel alternative value chain. And given the current business environment, it is more significant than ever for companies

to incorporate sustainability drive into their long-term strategies,  sound corpor ate governance and corporate citizenship should be developed through robust business strategy for navigating environmental complexity and social change created by COVID-19.

“One of the great lessons of COVID 19 is that enterprise can function with little or no physical structure which has been termed the new normal such as online meetings. The lesson from this is that enterprise can reduce cost associated with massive edifice and invest more in

technology. Enterprise should also encourage and adopt strategic agility components of strategic sensitivity, resource fluidity and leadership unity to cope with change,” he recommended.

The President of the institute Mrs Patience Ehizogie Anabor in her address explained that  the Distinguished

Managment Lecture was one of the Institute’s contributions to nation- building adding that it provides a platform for it to brainstorm on a burning and contemporary governance and leadership issue of national importance and proffer ways forward.

She noted that COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis unprecedented in terms of scale and social, economic, and environmental implications the world over. Her words: “The consequences of this crisis in the affected countries are manifold. In addition to its human impacts, particularly for victims and for overburdened health services, the pandemic is often compared to the great depression of 1929.

“It  has created an endemic situation of uncertainty and confusion about risks to employees. For organisations, these uncertainties are all the more difficult to manage as they have  affected the way businesses are conducted, and they  include new technological productivity and value creation tools as well as built-up competencies and capabilities in operations, and governments and organisations have retooled their budgets to address the disruptions that come with it.”.

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