Legal Assurance in Doing Business in Nigeria

federal high court, ikoyi
Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Nigeria

Africa is confronted with doom and boom analysis such as pandemic corruption in the highest level, disastrous economic policies, mismanagement of health, water, mismanagement of infrastructure and burgeoning unemployment from both the local and international polymaths.

In the words of Nelson Mandela that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” to my mind, education is therefore a way of life, what we learnt, neglected to learn and what we will continue to learn.

Take a searchlight on the map of Africa looking at Nigeria, the investment climate for Africa.

africa mapIt suffices to say that Africa is the untapped continent and Nigeria flagged off as a very big-time operator economy in the Africa region and its success has positive spill over the region, particularly in West Africa, and its challenges create difficulties for its neighbours. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world.

Therefore, Nigeria has in recent times made concerted efforts, internationally and locally, at attracting international investors, creating conducive environment and securing for itself a place of pride among comity of friends.

On the global pedestrian movement the country is creatively rooted and strengthened to be a ‘Giant of Africa and a Glamorous Bride’ to its African nations in the firm believe and hope that this would pathway for the country recognition and acceptance by the international nations and thereby  translate to political and economic benefit for Nigeria.

Locally, the strategy is two pronged; on the one hand creating a conducive environment for small medium scale enterprises (SMEs) activity while redesigning and repositioning government institutions towards ensuring maximum quality service delivery and on the other hand taking steps aimed at curbing insecurity, corruption and looting of the nation’s resources.

In order to instill faith in the viability of investing in Nigeria it was necessary for the government to initiate a privatization policy which would further encourage entrepreneurial activity while spearheading development in Nigeria. The scope of this policy extended from the removal of monopoly in public enterprises to the partial or total divestment of shares owned by the government either directly or through any of its agencies in public enterprises to private persons or corporations in vital areas of the economy such as mining, transportation, electricity, telecommunications, petroleum and gas, like the modular refinery in the Niger Delta region.

The National Council of Privatization (NCP), whose secretariat is the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), was therefore established to coordinate and manage the overall implementation of the government’s privatization policy.

The National Council of Privatization (NCP) in discharge of its duties collaborates with other relevant Government agencies and same has resulted in the opening of many investment opportunities in Nigeria.

Nigeria Bank of Industry (BOI) grants loan to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to support and encouraging entrepreneurial development in the country.

The government is also taking steps to ensure that investing in Nigeria is easy by either repealing or amending laws which had hitherto hindered investment in Nigeria.

The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo signed three executive orders on a number of policy issues affecting the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment designed to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country, timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies, including companies owned by the Federal Government and support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government.

This order will significantly change some of the ways government business and operations are conducted in the country forthwith.

Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) an agency of the Federal Government is designed to be the one-stop-shop for fast tracking and executing foreign international business investment and novel business investment in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission Decree No. 16 of 1995, as amended, which set up the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), provides among others that a non-Nigeria may invest and participate in the operation of any enterprise in Nigeria and that foreign enterprises may buy the shares of any Nigerian enterprise in any convertible foreign currency.

A foreign international investor in an approved enterprise is guaranteed unconditional transferability of funds through an authorized dealer, in freely convertible currency of:

  • Dividends or profit (net of taxes) attributable to the investment,
  • Payments in respect of loan servicing where a foreign loan has been obtained,
  • The remittance of proceeds (net of all taxes) and other obligations in the events of sale or liquidation of the enterprises or any interest attributable to the investment.

Government also create conducive encouragement of Business investment incentives which are available to the Investor including but not limited to 100 percent tax incentives of up to 7 years on certain investments;  tax reliefs, concessions and, or rebates; no payment of excise duty; import duty rebate; reinvestment allowance; among others.

There are also enactments which guarantee that foreign business investments will not be naturalized and that no person’s interests will be compulsorily acquired or transferred except upon provision for adequate compensation and with a right of access to the courts for determination of the Investor’s interest or right and the amount of compensation to which he is entitled. For example South African business giant MTN’s default to comply with the registration of sim cardholder in the country with the local enactment was cured by a soft penalty by the government due to its economy contributions to the country’s purse.

The Nigeria government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari efforts is also being made at restructuring and strengthening the country’s judicial system and legal frame work and these are gradually bearing fruits.

Court matters are promptly and efficient adjudicated and disposal of legal matters; judicial officers are being trained, empowered and constantly updated with the use of Information and Communication Technology in order to further facilitate and fast-track the delivery of justice in Nigerian courts even as corrupt judicial officers are being dismissed, retired and prosecuted by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

ECOWAS
ECOWAS office in Onikan, Lagos

The application of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods in settling commercial disputes is firmly rooted in Nigeria. This method of commercial disputes settlement has witnessed rapid growth in Nigeria business sector as various states in the country use of the Multi Door Court Houses in Lagos and Abuja has encouraged the use of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and conciliation strategies in the resolution of commercial disputes.

The Nigerian security agencies are constantly being retrained and empowered with modern technology and arms apparatus.

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) was set up to spearhead the Country’s fight against fraud, theft, right infringement, bribery, corruption and financial crimes and it has achieved excellent success in its fight against corrupt practices such as money laundering, illegal oil bunkering, advance fee fraud (419), cyber crime etc

IN CONCLUSION

Nigeria has become the fastest growing commercial hub for Africa business investment. It is therefore glaring that for investors to take opportunities in Nigeria they must be legally and professionally guided as to investment opportunities, choice of investment, market penetration and strategic marketing.

Federal government must improve their capacities to raise revenue because there is need in terms of public infrastructure, security and healthy environment for foreign investors.

In order for the host nation to take the opportunities offered by foreign investors, individual citizen must be up to date in his or her line of career.

Also foreign investors, there is need to be strategic in taking advantage of opportunities available in the market vis a vis current trends to the benefit of the host nation.

Without equity and justice, all of those things that facilitate our progress as a civilized society will not materialize, if there are no dignity of human labour, good wages, security of lives and property, respect of human rights and enforcement and infrastructural developments businesses cannot thrive, if we do not have all the services that government is to offer e.g. law and order, security, education and healthcare then we cannot make progress collectively.

We therefore recommend Darach Associates and Marketing Consulting of Nigeria for your investment penetration in Africa particularly in Nigeria as a first point of call and for your professional certification and training courses.

For further information please visit:

http://www.askkayodemicah.com.ng 

http://www.darachassociate.com

Written by:

 Bolaji Ogungbemi

Legal Practitioner & Consultant

Email: bolajilegal@gmail.com

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