The Founders’ Day Lecture Series was instituted as a fitting tribute to the legacy of the founding fathers of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and as a commemoration of the opening of  the Institute in 1979.

This year’s Founders’ Day Lecture (FDL) was specially held to mark the 40th anniversary of the Institute.
This year’s FDL titled ‘Inclusivity and the transformational potentials of the AfCFTA for African countries’ was delivered by Professor Faizel Ismail, Adjunct Professor at the Centre of Comparative Law in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Adedeji Adekunle, SAN acknowledged and welcomed all the guests to the Lecture. He noted that the Lecture was an opportunity to revisit the dreams of the Institute’s founding fathers and critically examine our fidelity to our statutory mandate. It is also a day of special tribute to those who have nurtured the vision steadfastly and with passion have delivered the mandate of the institute through their services to the Institute.

Professor Adedeji Adekunle, SAN emphasised that the Lecture was an annual event set aside to honour the Institute’s founding fathers and was also a forum for intellectual discussions on legal and related issues. In his words - ‘we use it to take stock of how faithful we have been to the mandate of the Institute and the dreams of those who founded it.’ Regarding the topic and the Guest Lecturer, he said: ‘The topic is one that is on the front burner. Even as we’re gathered here, CEOs from Africa are gathered in Kigali talking about what AfCFTA holds for them…Our mandate spans issues that cut across law and related topics. We thought it’d be a good opportunity for industry practitioners as well as legal academics and lawyers to interact with someone who can be described as Mr AfCFTA’.

President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Mr Babatunde Ruwase  who Chaired the programme said that signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will be an economic game-changer for Nigeria.

It will be recalled that the AfCFTA, signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018 is a trade agreement between 49 African Union (AU) member states (excluding Nigeria), with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single-currency union.

While some have expressed concerns over sustainability of investments should Nigeria sign it, Ruwase was of the view that Nigeria stands to benefit from continental economic integration.

The guest lecturer, Adjunct Professor at the Centre of Comparative Law in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Prof Faizel Ismail, said AfCFTA has the prospect of catalyzing the process of transformative industrial development, cross-border investment, democracy and governance in Africa. He, however, advocated for fairer outcomes of the AfCFTA and a more balanced and mutually beneficial integration process. In his words:

‘African governments should ensure that their stakeholders: business (both big and small), trade unions and civil society NGOs are included in the national consultation process and, provide their negotiators with clear mandates for negotiations.
African countries need to build effective institutions that are inclusive and enable the fullest participation of stakeholders in the negotiating process.
This will improve both the quality and the sustainability of the AfCFTA agreements.’

Dignitaries present at the occasion included: Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun VC, Lagos State University; Prof Teju Somakun, Caleb University; Prof Ayo Atsenuwa, Dean Faculty of Law, UNILAG; Professor Paul Idornigie, SAN, Director of Research NIALS; Associate Professor Emmanuel Okon, Director of Studies, NIALS; Julia Ojo, Nexim Bank; Dr. Kayode Oyende, LASU; Hon Justice Benedict B Kanyip; Tomide Oguntoyinbo, NIMASA; Okey Egbuchu, NBA Section on Business Law; Prof Peter K. Fogam, Faculty of Law UNILAG; Dr. (Mrs.) Olukemi A, Fadehan, Former Librarian UNILAG; Mr L Chidi IIlogu SAN; Mr Tayo Oyetibo SAN; Mr. Shegun Bolarinwa, NIIA Lagos; Joyce Akpata, NACC; Lawal Taiwo, NBCC;  Dr DIPO Alaka, Faculty of Law, LASU among others.
The Programme was anchored by Associate Professor Francisca Nlerum, HoD Commericial Law, was also Chaired the Organising Committee of the Programme.