I am delighted to be here today, February 28, 2019, to inaugurate this Committee on Government Contract Dispute Resolution Workshop. This Workshop will no doubt mark a giant stride in the development of amicable and alternative ways of resolving government contract related disputes in Nigeria other than the traditional means.
I would first like to thank the stakeholders who have accepted to Co-coordinate this workshop and are present today for this inauguration.
For the keen observers, it may interest you to recall that, over a year ago, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in line with the best international practices as laid down by the International Chamber of Commerce; established a Dispute Resolution Centre where interested parties can have an additional option for resolution of commercial disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This was consequent upon the need to remedy the critical challenges in expeditious resolution of commercial disputes and indeed all disputes in Abuja and Nigeria in general.
It is now well established that one of the critical factors driving economic development, ease of doing business as well as investment in any society is the existence of effective and efficient disputes resolution mechanisms.
Today, I look back at the journey so far, with a sense of accomplishment and further drive to do more. The biggest room in life is the room for improvement. Indeed, more has to be done and more will be done. It is therefore in the light of the above that I commend the Chairman of the DRC, Chief Emeka Obegolu and his team for their doggedness to ensure that the Centre’s mandate is now being brought to fruition.
This Dispute Resolution Centre, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, will coordinate this workshop designed to address and deal with issues, which invariably arise during the course of performance of Nigerian Public Sector Contracts and how to resolve these issues using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The workshop is targeted at stakeholders including contractors, lawyers, company secretaries, General Counsel, ADR Experts, Procurement Officers and anyone else interested in the evolving process of dispute resolution in the federal contracting space.
I am not unaware of the fact that costs and risk management are important factors that must be taken into account when undertaking projects. Studies have shown that main causes of disputes between contractors and the Government were non-payment of certified sums; financial claims; wrongful determination of contract, ambiguous contract documents; inadequate provisions in the contract conditions and misinterpretation of contract documents.
It is already a challenge to resolve these disputes as parties resort to litigation as the preferred resolution method thereby causing delays in project delivery and also make projects expensive in the long run. Also, these disputes have been seen to have caused poor performance in government projects and often leads to prolonged delays in implementation, interruptions and sometimes even suspensions of work.
However, in recent times, Mediation, Conciliation, Arbitration and all forms of ADR have been accepted as the appropriate means of resolution of Government Contract Dispute hence this workshop.
Our expectation is that this Workshop will enhance participants approach to create possibilities for Government and Contractor relationships, prequalification amenability, avoid disputes and resolve them when they arise amiably by avoiding unnecessary litigation and adversarial settlement, create a more productive and progressive business environment, explore a diverse range of ADR modalities which prevent, avoid or moderate disputes while retaining relationships of both parties. It will also position them to know how to access related expertise, resources, tools and references for further learning, development and resolution support.
On this note, I invite Members of this Planning Committee to note that you have the planning and execution of an exciting Workshop programme ahead of you and I wish us all a successful Workshop. The Chamber will give you all the necessary support to for the successful execution of this workshop, as that is the only way to take our country to the next level.
It is now my pleasure and privilege to inaugurate this Committee. The work starts now.
Thank you and best wishes.
Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, CON., SAN
President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)