“ …in ethical countries, crooked companies are in danger,
but in a corrupt system, ethical companies are an endangered species…“
If you have found this page you are probably a decision maker in a Nigerian business, trying to decide whether or not to support the Bribecode. Your attitude to the proposed law should depend on what kind of company you are: an ethical company which might occasionally be forced to make compromises to stay in business, or an essentially crooked company that will thrive better in a corrupt environment.
Of course, you are an ethical company.
For companies like yours, working with government departments in present day Nigeria is a challenge. On one hand, you may have won a bid fair and square, and are not seeking preferential treatment; on the other hand, if you don’t pay the substantial kickback required, the contract could well be cancelled or frustrated. Yet, from experience you know that paying kickbacks to public officers is a slippery slope.
For instance, dodgy bookkeepers must be recruited to disguise the fraudulent payments on your accounts. Also, senior staff aware of the ‘upstream’ bribes that are paid for your contracts may begin to ‘load’ invoices and take ‘downstream’ kickbacks from your subcontractors. This licenses dodgy invoicing and accounting across the company, while breeding indiscipline and customer-facing petty corruption among your junior staff. Eventually, corruption inefficiencies may set in – because employees know when contracts are won by kickbacks rather than product quality. Over time, your company’s standards may fall and your international competitiveness suffer.
Once the Bribecode comes into force, the ethical company can safely reorient its staff and recalibrate their operations for zero tolerance for corruption, all without fearing lost government patronage. They can reject the advances of corrupt public officers, safe in the confidence that none of their competitors, corrupt or otherwise, can afford the risk of paying kickbacks either. They can do this, safe in the knowledge that if the public officers insist on taking bribes before doing their jobs, their entire capital budget will likely remain undisbursed.
Even if your company is not a government contractor and your customers are ordinary Nigerians, consider how much better business will be in a thriving economy where infrastructural projects are properly planned, budgeted and executed, and where roads, electricity and water services are fully functional.
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