OPINION – National Assembly Business Roundtable (#NASSBER): Developing a Legislative Blueprint for Nigeria’s Business Sector – By Wale Bakare

Nigerian Senate preident

The review of the of Nigeria’s business laws have been overlooked for many years. However, after ranking 169th out of the189 economies surveyed in the World Bank Doing Business report, there has been an urgent need for Nigeria to restructure its business environment in order to make it more investor-friendly, and to promote the activities of entrepreneurs.

In this regard, the 8th National Assembly’s engagement of stakeholders from the business sector on developing a blueprint for the legislative business reforms, is a welcome development given the recent push to diversify Nigeria’s economy. Under the leadership of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, this roundtable was convened to look into Nigeria’s laws on competition, taxation, infrastructure, public-private partnerships, finance and investment, and arbitration and dispute resolution.

As it stands, these initiatives are crucial given that where we are now is that according to the 2013 report of SMEDAN, the 37 million micro, small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria contribute almost 50% of our GDP. However only 17 percent of this number – according to SMEDAN statistics – received banking loans as one of their sources of capital.

Where we want to be is to enact the critical legislation that will address access to finance to boost entrepreneurship and employment in the country.

Where we are now is that Nigeria is ranked in the bottom 20 economies on the World Bank Doing Business Report due to our processes, practices and procedures, our multiple taxation system, and the lack of contract enforcements.

Where we want to be is to examine ways that we can streamline the numerous stages of registering and sustaining new and existing businesses, improve our commercial dispute resolution capacity, and modernise our tax system to meet our increasingly diversifying economy.

As emphasised by the Senate President at the event, Nigeria has an opportunity to review and repeal obsolete laws, and the re-enact new ones that cater to the demands of the ever-evolving world.

History beckons at the Saraki-led Senate, the Dogara-led House of Representatives, and the entire National Assembly to begin to forge a new path that will encourage the growth of our domestic economy.

Given the input from various experts across the board, the Nigerian legislature has a unique opportunity to not only define the future, but to consciously, collectively, and comprehensively build a roadmap that addresses many of the faults in our business environment.

Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for politics, Agriculture and the conservation of the environment. He can be reached via email: – waleflame@gmail.com

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