Divin’ Deep: Ayokunnu Ojeniyi on the importance of business-govt relationships

Oct 28, 2019

For the September issue of our monthly knowledge sharing session, “Divin’ Deep” we brought in the Technical Assistant, Ease of Doing Business at Office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ayokunnu Ojeniyi to shed light on how government and businesses can better relate without the common glitches associated, especially when it comes with regulations. 

He told us that the Nigerian government isn't trying to tax businesses out of market. The truth is that the Nigerian government is broke and the government is looking for ways, that won’t drastically pinch the ordinary human on the street, to make money. 

Ayokunnu said it is the responsibility of businesses to make the regulators and other important stakeholders in the industry they operate in know the true state of things. He said most times, small businesses leave key decision-makers to fill knowledge gaps on their own. Where these people, especially regulators, make up for this lack of knowledge, they often overestimate the value of businesses.

“So, for example, FIRS can come and say you are supposed to pay N30 million,” Ayokunnu explained.

“[When you ask] how do you know that’s what I’m supposed to pay? They say ‘Ehen, look at your account na, are you not selling?’. Do you know the margin I make on a business? So those conversations we are supposed to be having.”

He explained that many industries are isolated from the government. Instead, they focus on running the business alone. Small businesses must learn how to liaise and lobby government so that when the government makes policies, they won’t be far away from the reality of those industries.

Ayokunnu noted that business owners should borrow a leaf from the politicians. They understand the value of relationships and nurture those relationships in the best possible ways. 

That is to say, if small businesses help various regulatory bodies in their industry understand how businesses run, they won’t have to deal with outlandish regulatory challenges and where that happens, they can easily move to influence policies in a way that is not too harmful of the business. Therefore as a business owner try to relate with regulatory agencies, help them understand your business so they don’t have to fill up the gaps in their own head. 

Ayokunnu recommended that business owners lobby directly with relevant stakeholders that can make the environment friendlier. There are a lot of other ways, learn what works in your industry and for you. But no matter what you do, never ignore the decision-makers. Don’t leave them alone.

If you don’t carry them along, you and your business will suffer for it.

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