Award debtors routinely employ every conceivable strategy to circumvent the enforcement of an arbitral award against them. One such strategy is to argue that the time limit for enforcing an award or judgment has lapsed, thus rendering the award unenforceable. As this issue has long plagued award creditors, the relevant statutory provisions and judicial decisions in this regard must be evaluated in order to ascertain the ways in which the unsavoury outcome of the statutes of limitation can be avoided.
The National Identity Management Commission recently issued the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations 2017, under which "the filing and registration of criminal and civil actions in courts or other arbitration processes" is now included in the list of transactions that require the use of a national identity number. Although this requirement is legitimate, how it will be enforced in private transactions and the effects of non-compliance on such transactions remain unclear.
The Federal High Court recently dismissed an application to set aside an arbitral tribunal's final award on the grounds that the tribunal had misconducted itself by reformulating the issues agreed by the parties to include a preliminary issue which was capable of removing the need to determine all of the issues presented by the parties. The court held that although a jurisdictional error is a variant of misconduct, it is only where a tribunal has acted without jurisdiction that its decision is liable to be set aside.
The Court of Appeal recently held that the Tax Appeal Tribunal has jurisdiction to adjudicate tax-related disputes. The appellants in the case successfully argued that the tribunal's jurisdiction to determine tax disputes does not encroach on the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, as bringing tax appeals before the tribunal is merely a condition precedent to approaching the court. Further, the tribunal's decisions can be reviewed and quashed by the court.
As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nigeria must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from both domestic and international aviation. To demonstrate its commitment in this regard, Nigeria has developed an action plan to reduce aircraft emissions and implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. Further, it intends to explore regulatory measures to reduce its aircraft emissions.
For the aviation sector to generate more income, the government must address a number of challenges to maximise the sector's full potential. Such challenges include compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation global standards, the difficulties experienced by aviation stakeholders wanting to access funds or ensure financing for the modernisation and expansion of their infrastructure, the slow implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and Nigeria's requisite skill shortages.
For the Nigerian aviation industry 2018 began on a relatively high note. In 2017 the sector experienced a number of milestones which should serve as leverage for building success as the country becomes an air travel hub in West Africa. These developments include the country's increased ranking in the Level 3 State Safety Programme Implementation Process, the International Civil Aviation Organisation certification of two airports and the signing of the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
It is important that the safety and security standards adopted in the Nigerian aviation sector be given proper attention to ensure the protection and safeguarding of all stakeholders against acts of unlawful interference or other threats. However, aviation security in Nigeria is fraught with challenges and this has brought about recent deliberations from the government, regulators, the aviation industry and the public.
In May 2017 the Federal Executive Council approved the allocation of N1.52 billion for the financing of preparatory steps towards, among other things, the reintroduction of a national airline. While this is commendable, the need for a national carrier cannot serve as the conclusive basis for a decision that will have adverse effects on national and economic planning. As such, the government must carefully consider and address the concerns regarding the re-establishment of a national airline.
The National Assembly is considering three bills to repeal and re-enact the key pieces of legislation that regulate the banking sector. Collectively, the bills provide for an increase in the Central Bank of Nigeria's autonomy and discretionary powers, an expansion of the banking regulation regime to accommodate electronic transactions and increased penalties for infractions, including the imposition of personal liability on bank officers and directors.
In order to revolutionise its economy, Nigeria must formulate policies dedicated to industrial growth, as such growth can attract foreign investment. It is hoped that the existing wave of industrialisation in Nigeria will be accompanied by a political will to implement clearly defined policies to industrialise the country and increase the number of M&A transactions.
Developing countries rely heavily on foreign direct investment to promote their economies. However, the period of unrest facing many emerging economies, including Nigeria, is a cause for concern. This instability has had far-reaching effects on Nigeria's emerging economy, especially in the context of M&A transactions. Foreign investors have been reluctant to participate in a number of potential M&A activities, undoubtedly because of the costs associated with investing in an unstable country.
M&A activity in Nigeria declined in 2015, with a 22% drop in the number of deals and a 65% drop in the overall value of deals. This decline was due to regulatory uncertainty, falling oil prices and the volatility of the naira, as well as uncertainty surrounding the 2015 general election, which resulted in investor caution. It is hoped that the government will now aggressively enforce the drive for economic diversification, thus boosting the trend for M&A transactions.
The president recently submitted the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts (Amendment) Bill 2018 to the National Assembly for consideration and passage. The bill seeks to amend Section 16 of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, which was promulgated in 1999. If passed, it will alter the economic dynamics of production sharing contracts.
The House of Representatives recently considered a motion to declare Kogi, Enugu and Anambra oil producing states following the discovery of oil and gas deposits in commercial quantities. It subsequently urged the federal government to hold bids for oil prospecting and mining of the discoveries and declare the states oil producing states.
The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently underwent its second reading. If passed in its existing form, the bill will have a significant effect on the operations of the oil and gas industry. For example, the bill makes it mandatory for oil industry operators in Nigeria to subscribe to and be bona fide members of Clean Nigeria Associates and imposes a levy on oil companies calculated at 0.5% of their operations funds.