Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN

Erudite lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN has proposed to the country’s government the adoption of the Keynesian expansionary fiscal policy as part of deliberate measures to achieve and sustain double-digit growth of at least 10 per cent over the next 10 years in order to pull majority of the citizens out of extreme poverty.

This is against the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari’s last Monday appointment of a new Economic Advisory Committee headed by Prof Doyin Salami. Other members are Dr. Mohammed Sagagi (vice-chairman); Prof Ode Ojowu; Dr. Shehu Yahaya; Dr. Iyabo Masha; Prof Chukwuma Soludo; Mr. Bismark Rewane; and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu (secretary).

Recall that CNN had last year reported that Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. The report estimated that over 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population live on less than $1.90 a day.

In a statement entitled: “Development of Law Policy missing magic wand to transform Nigeria’s economy, create jobs and reduce poverty”, Agbakoba noted that the magic wand that can achieve this feat is the concept of development law, a public policy tool that intersects law and economic development.

He noted that Nigeria is currently in a parlous state with the Gross Domestic Product GDP at 1.9 per cent, population exploding past 200 million and a worrisome debt overhang that may strangulate the country, if urgent steps are not taken to address these huge challenges.

According to him, development law scholars agree that there is a strong linkage between law, regulatory institutions, governance, economic development and national welfare. He noted that Nigeria’s legal and judicial framework is hopelessly outdated and needs an urgent review to meet current challenges and yet governments generally fail to notice the links between legal policy, economic development, governance and institutions etc.

He said: “A sound nation depends on vital legal institutional, regulatory and governance frameworks. The links unfortunately between legal institutions, political economy and development have often, and in our case, been completely overlooked or missed, hence under-development. It is important therefore that policymakers must consider that although macro policies are unquestionably important, there is a growing consensus that the quality of business regulations and the legal institutions that enforce it are a major determinant of development.

“If development law is applied as a public policy tool in the following areas, for example, Financial Services Sector, National trade policy, Maritime, Aviation and Space, Legal and Justice Sector, Land Administration, Corruption, Social Security Administration etc.  It will transform the economy, create millions of jobs and pull 200 million Nigerians out of poverty.

“The Federal Government should organise new streams of revenue around a transformed financial services sector, a new lean and empowered Central Bank of Nigeria CBN with strong rules restricting banking to lending and not trading, a new trade policy and legislation on trade remedies which will make Nigeria a centre of production and not dumping, full enhancement of maritime and aviation resources by strengthening Cabotage legislations and a new Fly Nigeria Act. A new but controversial approach on the strategy on corruption is to introduce Immunity from Criminal Prosecution Act. This is likely to get many takers with billions of dollars flowing back into Nigeria by repentant corrupt people”

He strongly believes that a new property law regime can reverse trillions of trapped value in Nigeria’s national housing stock simply by efficient titling of property with which an instant credit market will be created.

Agbakoba also argued that development law policy will completely transform legal and judicial failure and bring efficiency to business transactions.

“I confidently predict that development law policy will transform the Nigerian economy. We will see sustained revenue inflows, double-digit growth, massive job creation and quantitative easing”, he also said.