2016 NBA-SBL conference targets law reform for economic development

Hopes are high that the 2016 annual Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) will produce a report that will help the Federal Government as it seeks ways out of the country’s current economic quagmire.

The conference organisers have said that the theme, ‘Law Reform and Economic Development’, was carefully chosen to explore and highlight the role law reform can play in facilitating economic development, especially as Nigeria faces challenging times.

At a press briefing to outline the plans for the conference in Lagos, Thursday, the Conference Planning Committee also announced that this year’s event has been moved to Abuja. The conference will hold June 22-24 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.

“We are looking at the state of the nation and we are looking at those things that we need to drive the nation forward. We think we need to pay attention to a lot of our laws; many of them have been in our statute book for 50 years or over without any tinkering or touching. And we need to start thinking about different ways of approaching the reform of our economy and the best place to start is the foundation and base which is the law. That is why we have chosen this theme, and I think it is very important and apt for this time,” said Asue Ighodalo, chairman, NBA Section on Business Law.

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“We are looking forward to a great conference. We are expecting that our report from this conference will be something that we will present to government. We presented our last two reports to government. And we are hoping it will help both the legislature and the executive as they look at ways of diversifying the economy and setting a base for the diversification of the economy,” he added.

Babatunde Ajibade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and chairman, Conference Planning Committee, said the SBL conference has become a very important date in the legal calendar in Nigeria, adding that he and his team were putting in every effort to ensure a successful conference.

“This being the 10th of our annual conferences, we are particularly proud to be hosting it and we are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that it will be a spectacular conference,” Ajibade said.

On why the 2016 conference is moving to Abuja, he said besides the fact that it is the 10th edition, the organisers thought it wise to drive home the theme of the conference by taking it right to the seat of power where it matters most.

“We think that if we are going to be dealing with law reform, we really need to be hosting the conference where the law is being reformed, and Abuja is the place,” he said.

Ajibade also announced that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been confirmed to speak at the conference opening dinner scheduled for June 22. Osinbajo will speak on the topic ‘Africa Rising: Managing Africa’s Economies for the Benefit of Its Peoples’.

Other confirmed attendees include Kayode Fayemi, minister of solid minerals; Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing; and Lanre Babalola, a former minister of power, while efforts are on top gear to get other speakers and invited guests to confirm their attendance, Ajibade said.

He also reeled out the key sessions at the conference to include ‘Law Reform and Economic Development’, ‘Managing Nigeria’s Economy – Law or Institutional Reforms?’, ‘Vehicle for Doing Business: Is CAMA Fit for a Modern Growing Economy?’, ‘Power Sector Reform and Economic Development’, ‘Future Prospects for the Oil Industry’, ‘Reforming the Law to Promote Commercial Agriculture’, among others.

Speaking further, Ighodalo said this year’s conference would build on the success of last year’s, which had the theme ‘Regulators as Catalysts for Economic Growth’.

On the specific impact of the 2015 conference, he said as a follow-through from the conference, the SBL has formed a joint committee with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and that the committee’s constant interaction has led to improvement in the operations of the CAC and, ultimately, in the business environment.

He also pointed to ongoing engagement with the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) as well as frequent consultation of the SBL by some agencies of government, such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), among others.

“There is a lot more awareness of the work of SBL. There is a lot more awareness of interfacing with practitioners, and there is a lot more awareness of the need for collaboration,” Ighodalo said.

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