Uche Usim, Abuja
The President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Mr Adetokunbo Kayode has described the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as a strong platform to advance national development as it enables warring business entities to seek redress quicker and better outside of the rigours of formal courts.
He said the ACCI, having identified the gains of ADR, established a Dispute Resolution Centre in 2018 where interested parties can have an additional option for resolution of commercial disputes.
Speaking in Abuja Tuesday at a workshop on government contract dispute resolution organized by the Dispute Resolution Council (DRC) of the ACCI, Kayode said ADR understands the need to remedy the critical challenges in expeditious resolution of commercial disputes and indeed all disputes in Abuja and Nigeria in general.
He said: “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.
“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.
“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 termination of contract, ambiguous contract documents; inadequate provisions in the contract conditions and misinterpretation of contract documents amongst others.
“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.
“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”, he explained. The ACCI President pointed out 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, pre-qualification 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,” he added.
Also speaking Emeka Obegolu, Chairman, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dispute Resolution Council (ACCI-DRC) said participants for the workshop include relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), contractors, senior managers or contracting officers, senior contract managers, lawyers, Company Secretaries, general counsels, ADR experts, procurement officers and anyone else interested in the evolving process of dispute resolution in the federal contracting space.
According to him, the ACCI-DRC sees ADR as vital as it continues to provide assurance as a veritable instrument for preventing and resolving contractual disputes.
He said: “The main objective of the government contracts dispute workshop is to provide opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange views on the dilemmas they face within the context of contractual disputes.
“Other objectives include: create a platform to access information, updates or risk factors in relation to the Federal Government procurement system; provide an avenue for information exchange with relevant stakeholders on the efficacy of ADR in responding to government contractual disputes; strengthen the capacity of ADR experts and interlocutors for effective resolution of disputes, among others.