The roles of politics, good governance and sustainable business environment in economic development have been enumerated by many political, development economics and business researchers and writers. Tom Forrest in “Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria”, established that there is dynamic interplay between the political and economic forces and government policies, institutions, and the patterns of development in Nigeria. Forrest also examined the annulment of the presidential elections in 1993 which was won convincingly by the late M. K. O. Abiola, and explored the persistence of military rule, the demise of the economic reform programme, and the intensification of the economic crisis. He concluded that only a good political environment can bring forth a resounding economic development.
In establishing the relationship between economic development and political change, Forrest considers whether enough political coherence and legitimacy at the centre can be reestablished in Nigeria to allow for effective economic management and more productive use of oil and gas wealth in the years ahead. It has been established that political awareness – sensitivity to public policy and government, and the agendas driving politicians – is a factor of good governance. Research by Jean Hartley, a professor of organisational analysis at Warwick Business School, Coventry, England, shows that relations with government are second on the list of what constitutes political awareness. Topmost on the list is the requirement to build alliances that will enable an organisation to achieve its objectives.
Entrepreneurs must be interested in who and how they are governed if they really love their businesses. Entrepreneurship is the livewire of nations and without business activities – agriculture, manufacturing, trading, banking and finance, real estate, insurance, aviation, telecommunication, oil and gas, sports, services, etc – no nation can survive. Efficiency of nations or national efficiency is defined by the number of the citizens who are engaged in meaningful jobs and who can contribute to national development. It is the ratio of the useful work performed by a people in a nation to the total investment expended or total resources, human, natural and material, available to the economic development of the nation. Apart from nations who have a positive balance on their rents and royalties on mineral resources, nations should operate on taxes from human capital, assets and businesses to instil good governance.
Good Governance is an approach to government that is committed to creating a system founded in justice and peace that protects individual’s human rights and civil liberties. According to The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) of the United Nations, Good Governance is measured by the eight factors of Participation, Rule of Law, Transparency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability. Without “effectiveness and efficiency”, which are factors which make a system to be appreciated, nations cannot be sustainably developed. Leaders must strive, as much as possible, to ensure that people in a community, who are qualified to work, can work so that they can contribute their quotas and participate in good governance.
Politics is the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the arrangement between parties in controlling power. Politics is the process embarked upon by politicians to take control of the machinery of public governance in a community. Government’s role in business is in making sure that all businesses in a nation have a ‘conducive’ environment to operate. Governments have numerous benefits that they can derive if they take time to invest in business development in their communities. These benefits include: income generation through personal income, corporate and value added taxes; jobs creation for the people; development of critical infrastructure like roads, rail, electricity and housing; provision of consumable products in the community, security provision and generation of foreign exchange through exportation of goods and products, etc.
Businesses are becoming an essential part of nations as we go into the future. Good leaders must think of how to provide the modern basic needs of food security, housing, transportation, medical facilities, education facilities and security of lives and properties. Government cannot do all these gratis. Government must think of how to involve the people in the provision of this hard and soft infrastructure, without which a nation cannot be successfully governed. Government must be interested in and protect the commercial activities of the people. This is a statutory responsibility of the government as well as being an investment by the government to generate income and have an efficient system that can stand the test of time!
Governments should be interested in creating the culture and environment for businesses to thrive. These include the principles, programmes and policies, the infrastructure, like security, industrial areas, central business districts, high streets and inter-state roads and electricity to promote effective commerce. Serious corporate organisations must invest in those that become the leaders in the communities where they are operating because the performances of leaders directly affect local businesses. A corrupt leader who does not allow money to circulate in the economy to as many people as possible will snuff life out of the economy and kill businesses. Business success depends more on the efforts of national leaders than individual business leaders!
Corporate organisations and their associations should be interested in the manifestos of prospective political leaders and how these manifestos will affect their businesses. They should, through their associations and unions, be able to organise debates amongst candidates of different parties to establish politicians’ plans for business entities in their countries. As a way of moving forward, business owners should form a front to project their businesses and protect their business interests if they want to exist in the future. Since businesses are strongly affected by public policies, it is in the interest of businesses to stay informed and put their ears on the chest of political leaders, and try to influence government decisions and public policy making. Businesses cannot afford not to play politics in a political setting.
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