Aside from price-related breaches of competition law, horizontal coordination measures are now put in place by businesses to provide essential services to consumers in order to keep the economy afloat. Such coordination, which ordinarily raises competition red flags, is now temporarily permitted in some jurisdictions, especially as the economy now runs on a skeletal basis. As the exigencies of the pandemic seem to have upended market practice, one wonders if competition law rules are fit for this perilous time and ponders on the intervention of the Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (“The Commission”) in the situation.
Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act
Medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) play a significant role in the building and sustenance of a nation's economy. Small and medium scale enterprises constitute about 80% of Nigerian businesses and therefore are very crucial to the Nigerian economy. However, MSMEs mostly depend on credit facilities to build and sustain their companies but have little of immovable assets to offer as security. Another challenge of MSMEs is poor management and governance, which also is a credit risk.
The Commercial Law Research Network Nigeria (CLRNN) was established in 2019 to create a platform through which the suitability of reforms to the commercial law in Nigeria can be critically discussed. CLRNN creates a collaborative environment in which researchers with expert knowledge of Nigeria’s domestic and international contexts can engage on various commercial law subjects germane to Nigeria’s economy.
The Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA), which is modelled after the South African Competition Act, established two institutions for the purposes of enforcing its provisions. These are the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT). It saddled them with the responsibility of promoting competition in the Nigerian market by eliminating monopolies, prohibiting abuse of a dominant position and penalizing other restrictive trade and business practices.
In his contribution to this symposium on Eleanor Fox and Mor Bakhoum’s book, Making Markets Work for Africa: Markets, Development, and Competition Law in Sub-Saharan Africa (OUP, 2019), Jasper Lubeto notes the omission of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, as a case study in the book. This excellent book went to press before Nigeria’s competition law came into force in January this year. To add to the rich discussion in this symposium, this essay discusses the historical development of Nigeria’s new competition law as well as the players and forces that shaped it. Finally, it reflects on the challenges and opportunities open to the new agency established to oversee competition law and policy in Nigeria. This essay also precedes two other essays on Nigerian competition law in the next two days.