Odujinrin & Adefulu

The 13th Annual Business Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law Conference June 26–28, 2019

The NBA-SBL Conference (“conference”) was quite insightful and educative as it bordered on the germane issues surrounding economic growth, investment and employment in Nigeria and the role of lawyers in addressing related challenges. The conference was well attended by lawyers from diverse fields of law and my experience at the conference is summarised below:

Registration and Conference Arrangement

The conference arrangement was well thought out and implemented. A day to the conference, we received emails for accreditation and collection of conference materials and also reminders via the conference APP. The registration of delegates was done in a timely manner and the conference materials were of good quality. The opening ceremony/dinner was well attended and the choice of speakers for the opening ceremony/dinner was genius as they understand the importance of law in propelling economic development. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila spoke on the law reforms necessary to improve the business environment, and His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu spoke on his plans for the economic development of Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria.

Theme of the Conference

The theme of the conference “Growth, Investment and Employment: Beyond Rhetoric” could not have come at a better time. It sought to highlight the challenges facing growth and investment in the Nigerian economy such as the increasing unemployment rate amongst the youth which stood at a staggering 36.5% and most importantly, to proffer solutions from a legal perspective to the identified challenges. The panellist of the conference sessions were all quite versed in their specialised fields from the regulators, to private investors, to professionals and the sessions I attended were quite engaging.

One of the plenary sessions I enjoyed the most was “Leading the Charge- Private Sector and the Nigerian Economy” which focused on the role and inclusion of the private sector in driving the Nigerian economy and the benefits of public private partnerships. Private sector involvement cannot be over-emphasised considering the growth of the country cannot be left solely to the government. Another session I enjoyed was on “Smarter Regulation- A Catalyst for Growth, Investment & Employment”. This section addressed the need for regulators to primarily act as instruments for promoting investment in driving the economy rather than the current stance where the focus is on revenue generation thereby unwittingly squashing potential investments in Nigeria.

There was a total of eight (8) breakout sessions during the conference with very interesting and pertinent topics. I personally enjoyed the breakout sessions on “Mind the Gap-The New Era of Taxation in Nigeria” which focused on the Federal Government’s drive on aggressive tax collection and enforcement as well as the adverse effect on taxpayers. Another session I enjoyed was titled “#Metoo-Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” which addressed the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and various stigmas preventing victims from speaking up. However, given the significance of this topic and its potential impact, I wished it was part of the subjects discussed in a plenary session for deliberation by a wider audience.  Being part of both sessions was a learning and insightful experience and I was glad to have been part of such deliberations.

My highlight of the conference was the variety show, “Tales Beyond the Bar” which showcased legal practitioners who have carved a niche for themselves in other fields and also leveraging on their background in law. It felt inspiring with law as a catalyst for achieving one’s passion, creating employment and that in itself is beyond rhetoric. The conference has given me another perspective to law following my interactions with other lawyers from various spheres of life and for this I am grateful!

by Oyinkansola Annie, Odujinrin & Adefulu