The third 60–day national action plan: synopsis of the reform initiatives

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”), through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (“PEBEC”), unveiled the reform initiatives that are to drive the third phase of its 60-Day National Action Plan on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria (“NAP 3.0”).

The National Action Plan, an initiative of the current administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, is championed by PEBEC – a special purpose vehicle chaired by His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN GCON, with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah as Vice Chairman. The mandate of PEBEC, which is being implemented by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (“EBES”), revolves around critical reforms which would make Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business with visible evidence of improved performances in the annual World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (“EoDB”) rankings; have the ultimate goal of positioning Nigeria as Africa’s leading and globally competitive economy.

NAP 3.0, which is to run from February 5 to April 5, 2018 and is expected to consolidate on the gains of the two (2) earlier 60-Day NAPs, focuses on the most impactful reforms for the Nigerian business environment that would cascade the EoDB initiatives down to the sub-national level; through purposeful engagement with State governments and active collaboration with key private sector players. Essentially, NAP 3.0 envisions the deepening of Nigeria’s business climate reforms across nine (9) indicators namely: Trading Across Borders; Trading within Nigeria; Entry & Exit of People; Getting Electricity; Starting a Business; Paying Taxes; Selling to Government; Enforcing Contracts; and Getting Credit.

Unlike the previous NAPs, a total number of twenty-seven (27) ministries, departments and agencies of government (“MDAs”) have been detailed to drive the reform initiatives of the NAP 3.0. The relevant implementing MDAs are the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”); Federal Ministry of Finance (“FMF”); Nigerian Shippers Council (“NSC”); Nigeria Customs Service (“NCS”); National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (“NAFDAC”); Nigeria Police Force; Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry (FMITI Commercial Law Dept.) (“TPDR”); Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (“NCAA”); Nigeria Immigration Service (“NIS”); Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (“FAAN”); Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Service (“NAQS”); Department of State Services (“DSS”); National Collateral Registry (“NCR”);  Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (“NERC”); Eko Electricity Distribution Company (“Eko DisCo”); Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (“Ikeja DisCo”); Kano Electricity Distribution Company (“Kano DisCo”); Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (“Kaduna DisCo”); Federal Ministry of Environment (“FME”); Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC”); Federal Inland Revenue Service (“FIRS”); Bureau of Public Procurement (“BPP”); Lagos State Judiciary; Kano State Judiciary; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (“NDLEA”); and the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (“NEMA”).

Below is a synopsis of the nine (9) reform indicators being promoted by the NAP 3.0:

Trading Across Borders

For the enhancement of cross-border trading between Nigeria and other countries, the following reforms are to be implemented by the FMF, NCS, CBN, and the NSC with the overall impact of achieving reduction in cost and time for clearing of cargo at the Ports, as well as increased transparency and efficiency at the Ports: