SENATE President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said on Monday that the repositioning of the Nigerian economy to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century is a major priority of the eighth Senate.
He was speaking while declaring open a one-day public hearing on a bill to repeal and re-enact the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of 1979, organised by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, in Abuja.
The lawmaker stressed that the Senate had prioritised business environment reform that would create more jobs and opportunities for the youth, promote and sustain domestic entrepreneurs, as well as to attract new investors into the country.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mohammed Isa, said “we believe it is important for us to continue the process of strengthening Nigeria’s business-related legislations by examining our bankruptcy laws. This is because global best practices have taught us that the bedrock of modern competitive economies is based on free entry and free exit.
“This would also mean that for free exit to be orderly in the event of losses, Nigeria needs stronger bankruptcy and insolvency laws to guide the process that would ensure that such firms that incur losses can easily break even and exit the markets using several market tools and intervention mechanisms.”
The Senate President said insolvency system and practice played an important role in attracting both domestic and foreign investments, as well as in promoting investments and entrepreneurial development, adding that “given these opportunities, there is urgent need for us to repeal and re-enact this Act which has become obsolete and outdated.”
He reiterated the commitment of the Senate in delivering on its legislative agenda to enable the executive to effectively undertake diversification of the economy and expand people’s opportunity to contribute to better governance, as he noted that “however, this requires all hands to be on deck; we cannot do this alone.”
The Senate’s public hearings, he said “are crucial avenues for us to distil public opinion and check the pulse of the nation over our policies and activities. Our objective is to provide our people with the needed space to participate in our lawmaking processes. These hearings are very important to us, as overtime, the input of actors from various fields and diverse backgrounds on particular legislative issues, have given our work here at the National Assembly, consensus and depth.
“As we settle in to consider the issue before us at this session on the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, our contributions to the discussion of the day must be guided by the fact that Nigeria is undergoing change; a re-evaluation, re-definition, and re-construction across all sectors of our lives.”
Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, said the bill was targeted at revitalising and enhancing the operational frameworks on bankruptcy and insolvency matters, so as to strengthen their applicability in addressing challenges in line with international best practices.
The event, according to him, was not aimed at witch-hunting, but rather at generating authentic information to enhance and guide the committee.
Ibrahim disclosed that the bill was referred to the committee on November 3, 2015, made up of 13 parts rendered in 269 clauses, an improvement on the existing Act with 143 clauses, most of which have become outdated and could not sustain contemporary developments and changes.
Among stakeholders that attended the public hearing were office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Asset Management Corporation (AMCON), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), among others.