For Our Economic Well Being, Nigeria Should Be A Preferred Investment Destination – Ighodalo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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For Our Economic Well Being, Nigeria Should Be A Preferred Investment Destination – Ighodalo

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

As the 9th Annual Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) starts on Sunday, Asue Ighodalo, chairman of the Section spoke with ADAM ADEDIMEJI on the need to attract long-term money into other areas of our economy, and capacity building. The three-day event, which seeks to engage industry regulators on key regulatory issues that affect Nigeria’s business environment and billed to hold at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos ends on Tuesday, June 9.

“Regulators as Catalysts for Economic Growth…” What informed the theme for this year’s conference?

By the nature of the work we do, we have observed over the last few years, especially after the international financial crisis, a growing and sustained international investment interest in emerging African economies. We also observed that most of the long term capital flows have gone into economies with large markets but markets which have enabling statutory and regulatory environments. We believe that an enabling regulatory environment, where our regulators are fair, certain, effective and pro-business, will provide a competitive advantage in attracting investment flows. So, we decided that at our conference this year, we would engage our Regulators as it concerns ‘ease of doing business’ in Nigeria. The objective is to shape government policies and enhance business processes in Nigeria. We believe our Annual Business Law conference is a good platform to focus on these discussions. It is fundamental for our economic well being as a nation that Nigeria is a preferred investment destination.

Are your participants largely driven either by the theme, the sub-topics or the selected panel at each conference? How does the chosen theme each year drive participation?

It is always important that our theme is contemporary, relevant, educative and topical to drive the right kind of feet into the conference. Participants, who cut across the private and public sectors, and international investors, also pay attention to the specific topics and to the speakers chosen to discuss these topics. We also have a large primary constituency of our members who make it a duty to be part of the conference each year. Participation is driven by all of these factors.

If yes, who is your target audience for the 2015 Annual Business Law Conference (ABLC)?

Our conferences are structured to bring value to a large target audience, the Public Sector, the Private Sector, international investment community, the judiciary and those in the informal sector of the economy. There’s a large offering for a wide range of participants. This year we will focus on regulators and how their work and the rules they set can enhance our economic growth.

The ABLC this year has only nine sessions, albeit fully packed and cutting across sectors. Is there a particular reason for this departure from the usual practice of several committee breakout sessions at the conferences?

We thought we should tweak our format a bit to emphasise our focus on our theme and the specific discussion topics. More than anything else, this should drive home the importance of the theme and topics we have chosen this year. With dwindling and unstable oil prices the diversification of our economy has become even more critical. We must do everything possible to attract new long term money into other areas of our economy. To do this we need to heighten the awareness that we must create an enabling and attractive environment.

In the course of the year, each of our 20 committees focuses on sector specific events in their various areas of commercial law practice. The committees will organise many more events this year thereby affording us the opportunity to focus primarily on the conference theme and the topics around it.

I can notice from the programme that the 8th session of the three-day conference speaks of Power Privatization “Learning” Curves. Is this a training programme designed to be different from the other sessions?

During this session, Advisers who worked on the implementation of our power privatization will share their experiences and proffer views on how to ensure we get the process right in the long term. It is fundamental to the growth of our economy that the reforms in our power sector succeed.

At the session, which will be chaired by Engr. Joseph Makoju, Former Special Adviser to the President on Power and Honorary Adviser to the CEO, Dangote Group; the guest speaker, Nina Bowyer, a Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills (an international law firm), will speak of her experiences handling energy, mining and infrastructure projects across Africa – particularly in West Africa. Nina, who is a frequent visitor to Nigeria, has worked on over 30 transactions in the last 10 years. She would have some very useful insights to share at the conference.

How does the SBL promote the delivery of qualitative business services to the public?

Directly, we engage in the effective training and exposure of our members to enhance their capacity and skills. The idea is that any of our members can, in their areas of specialization, match, actually surpass, the quality of service provided in other major business centers of the world. Indirectly, we seek to influence, the enthronement of best practices, the advancement of positive business policies, law making to enhance business development. This we do through collaborations and continuous engagement with government, law makers, regulators, policy makers, professional organisations and the business community.

Do the SBL conferences garner CLE points for members of the Section?

Yes it does. Our parent body, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) sees to it that every lawyer who attends not just the SBL conferences but also those of the other sections of the NBA, get CLE credits for participating.

Do deliberations at these conferences actually drive policy changes or lead to the enactment of legislations that affect the development of commerce and business in Nigeria?

I would like to think so. We will deliberate on issues in various areas of the law, business and our socio- economy. Some of these issues we identify as ‘hot topics’ or burning issues in national development; we bring together legal practitioners, law makers, business people, government officials, judges and academics; we engage all of them; facilitating discussions around these topical issues and exchanging ideas in an open forum. We know that many of these ideas are discussed at both federal and state level and will influence law making.

What do you hope to see from the sort of interactions at this conference?

We have put together some of the best legal, policy formulation, regulatory, financial, business and commercial minds to facilitate our discussions at this year’s conference. Looking through our list of speakers and panelist, our sessions at the conference will be engaging, rich, diverse, deep, informative and far-reaching, x-raying the matters and issues at hand in great detail.

Speaking as a leader of the bar and the business law community, what direction do you think the discourse will take in terms of setting an agenda for the new administration?

The new administration will set its own agenda and run by it. Hopefully, the output from our conference will help in some way to fine tune parts of their agenda especially around the creation of an enabling business and investment environment.