How Development Law Policy can transform Nigeria’s Economy--Agbakoba

Olisa Agbakoba SAN
With an estimated population size of 200 million, Nigeria’s economy needs a fresh and workable approach to address the problem of poverty, renowned Maritime Lawyer, Rights Activist and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba has said.

Agbakoba noted in a statement that with a miserly 1.9% GDP, and a huge population, debt overhang may just strangulate the country.

However, Agbakoba  recommended that the Federal Government should adopt the Keynesian expansionary fiscal policy in order to achieve and sustain double-digit growth of at least 10% over 10 years to pull at least 200 million Nigerians out of poverty.

According to him, the magic wand that can achieve this feat is the concept of development law, a public policy tool that intersects law and economic development, and pointed to the fact that law scholars had established correlation between law, regulatory institutions, governance, economic development and national welfare.

He faulted government’s failure to notice the links between legal policy, economic development, governance, institutions etc. even though there are arguments that the Nigerian legal and judicial framework is hopelessly outdated and needs an urgent review to meet current challenges.

He said “A sound nation depends on vital legal institutional, regulatory and governance frameworks. The links unfortunately between legal institutions, political economy and development have often, and in our case, been completely overlooked or missed, hence under-development.

“It is important therefore that policymakers must, “consider that although macro policies are unquestionably important, there is a growing consensus that the quality of business regulations and the legal institutions that enforce it are a major determinant of development.

“If development law is applied as a public policy tool in the following areas, for example, Financial Services Sector, National trade policy, Maritime, Aviation and Space, Legal and Justice Sector, Land Administration, Corruption, Social Security Administration etc, it will transform the economy, create millions of jobs and pull 200 million Nigerians out of poverty.”

Going forward, Agbakoba urged the Federal Government to organise new streams of revenue around a transformed financial services sector, a new lean and empowered CBN with strong rules restricting banking to lending and not trading, a new trade policy and legislation on trade remedies which will make Nigeria a centre of production and not dumping, full enhancement of maritime and aviation resources by strengthening Cabotage legislations and a new Fly Nigeria Act.

Importantly, Agbakoba added that “A new but controversial approach on the strategy on corruption is to introduce Immunity from Criminal Prosecution Act. This is likely to get many takers with billions of dollars flowing back into Nigeria by repentant corrupt people!!!

“A new property law regime can reverse trillions of trapped value in our National Housing Stock simply by efficient titling of property and with this, an instant credit market will be created.”

He expressed confidence that development law policy will completely transform the legal and judicial failure and bring efficiency to business transactions, thus the Nigerian economy.
It is only such workable and sincere approach to reviving the economy that would ensure sustained revenue inflows, double-digit growth, massive job creation and quantitative easing, Agbakoba added.