October 06, 2020 / 3:16 PM / OpEd by Dr. Olisa
Agbakoba, SAN / Header Image Credit: Ecographics
Being the text of a letter written by Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN to His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I applaud your very early release of budget 2021 as it signals concern to reflate the economy. I note that fiscal and monetary policy is broadly harmonized but I wish fiscal policy was more expansionary. Nonetheless, there is a budget deficit of about 7 trillion naira so the big challenge is how to raise revenue. Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of Government is very timely. There are 5 critical elements of the initiative namely: Revenue Generation, Job Creation, Economic Growth, Ease of Process and Reducing Cost of Governance and Leakages.
This is necessary as Nigeria is faced with an unprecedented revenue challenge exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil price. I understand the SRGI is targeted at the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Customs Service and Nigerian Ports Authority.
There are many opportunities to realize enormous revenue and Jobs from the services sector otherwise known as the soft economy. This is the basis of the upcoming National webinar which our firm, Olisa Agbakoba Legal is hosting with BusinessDay on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2020 to be opened by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Chaired by Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Mr Mustapha Chike-Obi. The theme of the webinar is: "How Law can be a tool for Revenue Generation and Jobs Creation". Some of the areas we are reviewing include the Maritime Industry which is the second-largest contributor of revenue other than oil.
One area of great interest that can generate revenue is the Apapa port city. A recent report by a Dutch consultancy firm, Dynanmar shows that Nigeria loses N20 billion daily at the ports, which is 7.2 trillion yearly. The second area that can also generate substantial income has to do with trade facilitation. Trade is Nigeria's second-largest contributor to GDP but it is shocking that Nigeria lacks the critical and essential tools of trade facilitation which are vessels and airlines. So legislation is proposed to introduce the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) and Air Nigeria. If our local content policy and laws are implemented in terms of trade facilitation, Nigeria can generate over N20 trillion and 10 million jobs in 5 years. The third area concerns land administration.
A recent study shows that the housing inventory of Nigerian property probably exceeds $ 7 trillion but most of this is dead capital that cannot be used as collateral for financial transactions because they are not properly titled. Creating an efficient titling system by introducing a Land Use Administration Act will release a lot of revenue into the system. If it is properly done, estimates suggest it can generate N30 trillion over 5 years.
Looking at all these areas and without any serious study it shows that we are almost at N100 trillion. But with concerted deep study, it is possible to hit the N100 trillion mark. Government should explore new sources of revenue to close the budget deficit and grow the economy by enacting the Strategic Revenue Growth and Recovery Act.
About the Author
Dr Olisa Agbakoba is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (equivalent of Queen's Counsel) and a life bencher of the Body of Benchers.
He is one of Nigeria's leading experts in Maritime Law and has litigated several complex maritime cases. He has championed legal reforms in maritime law including the Cabotage Act, the National Oceanic Policy and other strategic legislations. He played a major role in the reform of both State and Federal High Court Rules for speedy dispensation of justice. He is the founding President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, a member of the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) and Vice Chairman Presidential Committee on the review of the maritime sector.
Dr. Agbakoba is also a leading arbitrator, an initiator and pioneer of Law Firm Annexed Arbitration/ Mediation Centre in Lagos (Nigeria), the Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) Arbitration & Mediation Centre. He designed the ADR mechanism and rules for Asset Management and Recovery of Nigeria (AMCON). He has been involved as counsel and arbitrator in various national and cross border multi-million dollars disputes.
He is a Development law expert and has advocated the application of Law in development planning and economic growth. He has consulted and provided advisory services to the federal and state governments, as well as government ministries, departments and multilateral agencies on legal reforms and legislative advocacy. He has served in various appointive governmental positions and a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit.
Dr. Agbakoba is a leading Human Rights activist, a democracy and Rule of Law scholar. He became the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (2006-2008) and in 1987; founded the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) of which he was the president from 1987 to 1995.
He has authored numerous books such as the National Oceanic Policy, Development Law Policy, Federal High Court Practice Manual, Maritime Newsletter Volume I & II among many others.
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