As part of measures to attract foreign investors, the federal government is promoting the adoption of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and creating the necessary infrastructure which will enhance the speedy resolution of business related disputes, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Prof. Osinbajo disclosed this on Thursday while answering questions during a virtual interaction with members of the French Business Confederation (MEDEF), an event that also featured representatives of several top French companies and officials from both governments of Nigeria and France.
Addressing a concern on the resolution of commercial disputes in Nigeria, the Vice President said “Nigeria has a robust judiciary and most companies engage some of the best lawyers in Nigeria, many of whom are internationally acclaimed.”
According to him, “our courts, the commercial courts are doing well. Sometimes there may be delays in the length of time that it may take to resolve disputes which is why arbitration is the preferred mode of resolving disputes. And am sure that most companies have an arbitration clause in their agreements and contracts. “Alternative Dispute Resolution is something that we are promoting as a government and we are trying to create infrastructure for it. And I know that most businesses don’t even want to go to court. They will rather resolve their disputes through commercial arbitration. And that is an area we are looking to explore in greater detail.” Continuing, the Vice President said “I will say that Alternative Dispute Resolution such as arbitration and mediation should always be in contracts especially where companies may be wary of going through the legal process that may be long-drawn. I think that on the whole, the resolution of commercial disputes is one that we have done quite well. And I am very confident that the Federal High Courts, especially in the commercial nerve centres in the country – Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano are doing a decent job.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s terms of doing business competitiveness, the Vice President said the efforts made by the Buhari administration across diverse areas of creating a conducive business environment is yielding results. Prof. Osinbajo said the generality of the Ease of Doing Business reforms comprising improvement in port operations, checking of smuggling, and the adoption of a common trading platform had improved Nigeria’s competitiveness. On government’s investment in education, the Vice President said though basic education falls under the jurisdiction of the States, the Federal Government had introduced and is enforcing a policy on free and compulsory education in the first nine years of the Nigerian child’s life.
He said the Federal Government’s emphasis is also to modernise education by prioritising Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). In the health sector, Prof. Osinbajo told the French business community that the Federal Government was supporting and monitoring developments in the States through the National Economic Council (NEC), noting that the Federal Government, in collaborating with State governments is encouraging best practices in the Education and Health sectors. On continuing efforts at engaging youths in the country, the Vice President said several thousands of young men and women have been equipped with digital skills especially in coding as part of a programme initiated by the Federal Government. Citing the example of the privately built power plant in Edo State, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the Federal Government welcomes new investments in the power sector especially ones that will connect directly with the end consumers on willing buyer-willing seller basis.
According to him, “We really want as many private companies as possible to come on stream. We prefer that new companies do not come on the grid and expect government guarantees. We will be happy to have new investments in generation and distribution.” Participants at the forum include, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo; Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele; The Nigerian Ambassador to France, Mrs Modupe Irele; the representatives of Schneider Electric, Mr Christophe Begat; Swipha Pharmaceuticals, Frederick Lieutaud; Dassault System, Raoul Jacquard; Kamil Senhaji, and Federic Morel-Barbier, among others.