Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Monday told a team of consultants from the Department for International Development (DFID) that 54 of Nigeria’s existing laws have become obsolete and need to be either amended or repealed if the country is to make progress in its quest to attract investors and become business friendly.
Saraki who made this disclosure while receiving a 168-page report, titled: “Comprehensive Review of the Institutional Regulatory, Legislative and Associated Instruments Affecting Businesses in Nigeria,” said the present economic challenge facing the country presents another opportunity for its leaders to show leadership, courage and ingenuity.
He said the nation needed to exploit the present economic situation to set the stage for a post-oil era in which the private sector will be allowed to steer the ship of the economy while the government only provides the enabling environment.
“The National Assembly through our legislative agenda seized on the moment to chart a new course for the nation’s economy. The legislative agenda we have adopted is one framed largely around good governance, accountability, opening up of the economy for greater investment, ease of doing business and security of lives and property,” he said.
He added that the Eight National Assembly would give priority to the amendment of obsolete laws, saying since some of the affected laws require constitutional amendment, the planned process would be expedited to ensure that all stakeholders concerned make the changes happen as soon as possible.
According to him, the collaboration with the private sectors, development partners, professional groups like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) as well as the academia in the on-going process to review laws affecting business will give birth to a new business environment that will boost the economy, solve the problem of unemployment, curb social vices and restore our national values and pride.
He also said the Senate and the House of Representatives were in agreement with President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy on diversification of economy.
He said:”Our President has laid out a vision to fully diversify the economy beyond oil and has been committed to the actualization f the project.
“The overarching objective of the agenda targets private sector investment and business development as a major plank of the plan. This is because of our belief in the ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurship of our people and that in order to create jobs, give our people better opportunities, the private sector remains our best option.
“This is at the heart of the clamour for diversification; from agriculture business support, to credit, economic reform bills, to MSMEs, taxation, conflict resolution, regulatory reform bills, our agenda is firmly rooted on increased participation, diversification and capital formation”. Saraki assured.
The leader of the team that was sponsored by DFID, Prof. Paul Idornigie, said apart from 54 laws reviewed, they also did a comprehensive analysis of 50 other bills pending before the two chambers of the National Assembly.
He said the priority rating list would help the legislature to focus on some areas which require urgent intervention as he recommended nine bills, saying if passed into law by the eight National Assembly, it would have been deemed to have comprehensively reformed the business environment.
The bills recommended by the expert as requiring urgent attention are Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2015, Federal Roads Authority Bill 2015, National Inland Waterways Authority Bill 2015, National Roads Funds Bill 2015, National Transport Commission 2015, Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority Bill 2015, Nigeria Postal Commission Bill 2015 and Nigeria Railway Authority Bill 2015.
The team also recommended the establishment of a Federal Legislative Clearing House with the mandate to scrutinise and review bills before they are presented to the respective legislative chambers for first reading.
“One principle we believe the National Assembly in considering the bills before it is the need to avoid the setting up of multiple agencies with overlapping or competing mandates. Consequently, there is need to follow a cost benefit approach in deciding when and where a new agency is required,” he said.
Nigeria was recently ranked 169 out of 189 economies in the World Bank Doing Business Report.