Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN, has written President Muhammadu Buhari over the nation’s declining revenue profile, proposing the development of Apapa Port City project, which he said could yield over N7.2triliion annually.

Nigeria is currently experiencing huge revenue shortfalls occasioned by the sharp decline in the price of crude oil in the global market, which is her major revenue source as well as the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has induced economic depression across the globe.

In a letter dated October 3, 2020, signed by Agbakooba himself and addressed to the president, the former NBA president expressed concerns over the N7trillion deficit in the country’s 2020 budget, saying there are many untapped revenue sources that could bridge the current revenue gaps.

Proposing the development of the Apapa Port City as a latent revenue source, he cited a recent report by a Dutch consultancy firm, Dynanmar, which shows that Nigeria loses over N20 billion daily at the ports, which will translate to N7.2 trillion annually if the city potential were developed and harnessed.

He also proposed harnessing the vast opportunities in the country’s international trade and commerce to generate substantial income through trade facilitation. According to him, trade is Nigeria’s second-largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product GDP but regretted that the country lacks the critical and essential tools of trade facilitation which include ownership of vessels and airlines.

To achieve this, he proposed the enactment of a legislation to establish the Nigerian National Shipping Line NNSL and Air Nigeria, arguing that if the country’s local content policy and laws are implemented in terms of trade facilitation, she could generate over N20 trillion in five years, through which 10 million jobs could also be created.

Another revenue channel as proposed by the erudite maritime lawyer is land administration, citing a recent study, which shows that the housing inventory of Nigerian property probably exceeds $7 trillion but that most of this is dead capital that cannot be used as collateral for financial transactions because they are not properly titled.

He argued that creating an efficient titling system by introducing a Land Use Administration Act will release a lot of revenue into the system, insisting that if it is properly done, estimates suggest it can generate N30 trillion over a period of five 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”, Agbakoba also said. While commending the government for the early submission of the 2021 budget, which indicates commitment to reflate the economy, he called for the harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies, adding that fiscal policies should be more expansionary.

He said: “Nonetheless, there is a budget deficit of about “N7 trillion so the big challenge is how to raise revenue. Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of the government is very timely. There are five 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, Nigeria Customs Service and Nigerian Ports Authority.”

The Olisa Agbakoba Law firm is currently putting finishing touches to plans to hold a national webinar in collaboration with BusinessDay, which comes up on October 22-23, 2020.

The theme of the webinar is: “How Law can be a tool for Revenue Generation and Jobs Creation”, will be declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and to be chaired by chairman of Fidelity Bank plc, Mustapha Chike-Obi. Some of the areas to be reviewed include the maritime industry which is the country’s second largest revenue earner after the oil and gas.

Part of the objectives of the event the is to highlight many of the opportunities to realise enormous revenue and jobs from the services sector otherwise known as the soft economy.