The Children and Business Network Nigeria (“CBNG”), founded by Ms Toyin Olakanpo, was formally launched on May 30th, 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria as it hosted its first event entitled: “CEO Forum & Business Roundtable on Children’s Rights and the Business Sector.” The Keynote Speaker was the Executive Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and the Opening Address was given by the Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu.
The event was an advocacy initiative to engage the private sector to make a serious commitment to support Children’s Rights through their corporate social responsibility and their human resource policies in the implementation of the UN Children’s Rights and Business Principles and the Lagos State Child Rights Law. and was hailed as a success, with many positive feedbacks to the host Ms Toyin Olakanpo for organizing an excellent evening. The event was well supported by the Nigerian business sector with senior management and CEOs of companies in attendance representing a total annual turnover of $45 billion dollars.
The overall theme that resounded through the evening was that supporting the rights and development of children was not just about corporate social responsibility, but the only means of corporate survival because children were indeed the future workforce, future consumers and future investors. His Excellency Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola in his Keynote Address went on further to say that companies should step away from that term CSR and see the support of the rights and development of children as nation-building. Governor Fashola made reference to the familiar African adage: “it takes a village to raise a child” and went on to say that in these modern times that village not only included the family, society and the state, but also included the private sector. He said that whether directly or indirectly, every business influences or affects the lives of children: – the question is now whether that organization’s influence is positive or negative. Governor Fashola marked the event as an important wake-up call for organizations to under-go a corporate self-evaluation as to how their businesses were affecting the lives of children.
Speakers at the event included the Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria, Mr Keith Richards; Mr Uzoma Dozie of Diamond Bank plc; Mrs Ekeruche of Nestle Foods Nigeria plc; Mrs Yemisi Wada of Haven for the Nigeria Child Foundation; Mrs Grace Amadi of Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria; and Professor Bem Angwe of the National Human Rights Commission. The Question and Answer session was moderated by Mr Charles Adeogun, former lead United Nations prosecutor on war crimes. Her Excellency, Mrs Onari Duke, President of the Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria was also in attendance and one of the panelist during the Question and Answer Sessions, while Mrs Rebecca Armand, the acting US Consul General, United States Mission was one of the special guests at the event. The Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu gave the Opening Address, while a member of the Ovie Brume Foundation, Ms Rosemary Adibe of Kuramo Junior Secondary School sang the National Anthem. The Welcome Address was beautifully dispatched by the 8 year old, Miss Hadassah Olakanpo.
Her Excellency, te Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire was also in attendance. Having both the Governor of Lagos State and his Deputy grace the occasion, added more weight to the seriousness and significance of the event and Lagos State’s commitment to Children’s Rights. The Deputy Governor spoke about the state’s efforts in implementing the Child’s Rights Law, while copies of the simplified version of the Lagos State Child Rights Law together with the Yellow Card, were distributed to all in attendance.
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola commended Ms Toyin Olakanpo and the Children and Business Network as the first organization to involve the private sector to support Children’s Rights and asked the private sector to partner with the organization as such a partnership will help to ensure that children in Lagos State enjoy all the rights that their counterparts in developed nations enjoy.
Speaking to Ms Toyin Olakanpo after the event, she said she was overwhelmed by the support of Lagos State as it is very rare for both the Governor and his Deputy to attend events together. She expressed deep gratitude to all the sponsors who supported the Children and Business Network in their first initiative, namely Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Limited, First Bank of Nigeria, Diamond Bank, UBA plc, Promasidor Nigeria, the Polo Luxury Group and Nestle Foods Nigeria plc. She said that a number of companies were committed to supporting Children’s Rights and had even agreed to include a statement to that effect in their organization’s policy framework and Employee Handbook. She said she would be working with some companies to help effect this, as the need to make a corporate policy commitment to support Children’s Rights was Principle 1 of the 10 Principles of the UN Children’s Rights and Business Principles, and if Principle 1 could be implemented amongst the top organizations in the country, the impact of their efforts will be felt.
Date published: June 6, 2013