The annual State of Nigeria conference organized by London School of Economics Nigerian Society came to a close at the weekend. The conference was held at the Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics (LSE), London. The conference attracted various keynote speakers from various backgrounds of academics, law, journalism, business, technology and politics.
The theme for this year’s conference was titled Unleashing Nigeria’s Potential.
In delivering his speech on how to “Unleash Nigeria’s potential”, Prince O. Williams-Joel, the Managing Partner of Prince Joel and Associates, a leading Business and Digital law firm in Nigeria spoke on the ‘Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and Evolving opportunities’.
The Managing Partner of Prince Joel and Associates recognized that there are abundance of natural and human resources, abundant opportunities and endless economic possibilities in Nigeria. Thus, in the pursuit of these goals, he noted however that there are certain challenges militating against the achievement of greatness due to some factors which include, but not limited to, corruption, bureaucratic bottle necks, infrastructure deficit, dwindling oil revenue and insurgency. He acknowledged the fact that Policy makers, Dreamers, Politicians, Solution providers, Pathfinders, Scientists, and Entrepreneurs have a major role to play as the country beckons on them with a lot of promising opportunities.
On addressing the participants, he explained in brief “The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council” (‘PEBEC’), a Federal Government Initiative which was launched in 2016 by Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who sought to remove these bureaucratic constraints in doing business in Nigeria in order to attract more investors in the country and also seek to make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow business in Nigeria.
PEBEC’s mandate, as he rightly pointed out seeks to: move Nigeria upward in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking in the world. Nigeria was ranked 169 out of 189 economics in 2016; 146 out of 190 economics in 2017; and, 145 out of 190 economics in 2018.
The Council is Chaired by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osibajo, SAN and comprises the following intergovernmental & inter-Ministerial Departments:
• The PEBEC Secretariat (co-ordinated by Jumoke Oduwole, the Special assistant to the President on Industries, Trade & Investment).
• Ten Ministries (Ministers)
• The CBN Governor
• Representative of National Assembly
• Representative of the Judiciary
• Representative of Lagos & Kano state Government.
• Representative of the Private Sector.
He further emphasized that the Areas of utmost priorities the council concentrated on include:
• The entry & exit of goods especially through the ports.
• Intra Nigerian trade barriers
• Government transparency ie availability of information to the business community
Having addressed these core issues, the Managing Partner of Prince Joel & Associates, opined that the areas of evolving opportunities in Nigeria are so much and listed few of them which are :
• Mechanized Agriculture (one of the Government ‘s key area of focus).
• Creative/Entertainment industries (like Nollywood, Music)
• Political leadership
He also noted that other areas of evolving opportunities include:
• Political leadership
• Real estate
• Mining and solid gold
• Liquified Petroleum Gas
In conclusion, the Managing Partner of Prince Joel & Associate acknowledged that challenges in doing businesses in Nigeria are imminent. According to him, ‘We agree that we have developmental challenges, these however present opportunities. What will you do about it?’
Other keynote speakers at the event were: Dr.Adesola Adeduntan (The CEO of First Bank of Nigeria PLC); Dr.Fela Durotoye (Nation Builder & Founder of GEMSTONE Group); Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse (Head of Global Advocacy and Partnerships at FORWARD)