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Economies Grow when Regulators and Investors are Prosperity Partners

Nigeria can take a cue from this. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the counterpart of the GIPC, together with our other regulators, must begin to contextualise its regulatory roles within the Nigeria's national goal of becoming Africa's number one investment hub; and therefore become a facilitator and supporter of foreign investors, domestic entrepreneurs, promoters of start-ups and SMEs.

The Role of Lawyers

The various stages of the life of a business concern, from its establishment to full operational sustainability are all regulated by law. Lawyers therefore have a pivotal role to play in the formulation, execution and reformation of codes and laws regulating business and investment practices. Lawyers are usually the first advisers contacted whenever an investor/entrepreneur seeks to invest. Lawyers must therefore determine to play a more decisive role in creating a more enabling business environment and persuading our regulators to function as facilitators and supporters.

The various administrative bottlenecks and bureaucratic red-tape which hinder our ease of doing business and gravely affect economic growth are experienced, frustratingly, by lawyers as they represent their clients in the formation/establishment, registration and operational processes at numerous registration and regulatory desks.

In-house counsel who serve as legal advisers to our various regulatory agencies have a duty to liaise with external counsel to improve our filing, registration and approving processes. Our registrars, court officials, judges and adjudicators at the various regular and special courts/tribunals adjudicating on matters relating to business and investment, must work hard to speed up the hearing of matters. Our process and pace of dispute resolution must improve.

The many days and weeks spent in clearing goods at the ports, the bureaucracy working against the smooth processing and obtaining of investment permits and approvals must be resolved.

Our tax system needs to be streamlined to avoid multiple taxation which serve as a major investment disincentive and the overlapping regulatory functions, and usurpation of powers by regulators, discourage serious investors.

Lawyers and law firms must constantly either individually or corporately (e.g. through the NBA and other professional bodies like the Capital Market Solicitors Association) engage the executive, legislators, regulators and policy makers on needed legal reform with a view to making our business climate more attractive to investors.

Relevant laws which require amendment and uplift in line with contemporary international best practice, include: Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990 (CAMA); Investment and Securities Act, 2007 (ISA); Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, 1995 (NIPC Act); Immigration Act, 1990; National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act, 1992 (NOTAP Act); Foreign Exchange and Monitoring Act, 1995 (FEMA); Companies Income Tax Act, 1990 (CITA); Industrial Development Act, 1990 (IDA); Personal Income Tax Act, 1993 (PITA); Capital Gains Tax Act, 1990 (CGTA); Power Sector 4 Reform Act, 2005 (PSRA); Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010; Freedom of Information Act, 2011 (FOIA); and the Petroleum Act (which has been under legislative consideration for re-enactment as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for nearly eight years).

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