We propose that it is about time for Nigeria to enact a Social Value Act. A Social Value Act of Nigeria, enacted and enforced by the federal, state, and local governments, will serve the purpose of trying to ensure that any services contracted out to the public, that is, any public services contract, will consider the total economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the communities they affect, and try to provide for them. Such an act will ensure that in bidding for government contracts, vendors, suppliers and contractors, make provision for the greater good of society and specify how they will improve the total social value, both financial and non-financial, of the society. They must also be able to measure it.

Social Value, also known as total value, refers to the total financial and non-financial impact of programmes and initiatives of organisations, including the wellbeing of individuals and communities, social capital and the environment. From a business perspective, it is the measurable net social and environmental value generated by a business to society through its corporate and community activities, that is, its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

The Social Value Act of the United Kingdom requires “public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts.” The Act provides that government offices must consider how what is proposed to be procured might improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the relevant community, and how it will secure that improvement. The government office must identify the scope of what is proposed to be procured and what is outside the identified scope, and whether to undertake any consultation for confirmation.

We propose that a Social Value Act for Nigeria to be effective, needs to cover a wider scope than just procurement. We propose that ultimately such an act should cover all programs and initiatives by the government, whether undertaken by the government, or contracted out to the public. It should also affect how government offices and officers conduct themselves and perform their roles and responsibilities.

A Social Value Act of Nigeria will not only ensure that the government commits to providing for the economic wellbeing of its citizens, but also the social and environmental wellbeing as well. This will go a long way to improving the socioeconomic livelihood of the population and advancing the development of the country as a whole. Therefore, we need a Social Value Act of Nigeria, today.