Tosho Suleiman, Senior Legal Advisor at the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), achieved a distinction in his International Commercial Law (LLM) degree at the University of Dundee. He recently told Chipo Muwowo of the impact the university had on his career.
“I went to Dundee for two reasons,” Suleiman says. “Firstly, among Nigerians who are looking to do anything within the energy sector, Dundee is always a favourite. Secondly, I had spent six years working straight after my first degree. When it came to searching for a master’s programme, I wanted to compensate for loss of time by doing two master’s. The University of Dundee was the only school I knew of that was offering that option. It was called the International Commercial Law (LLM) UCP joint programme and provided the opportunity to study in both Scotland and France.” (University of Cergy-Pontoise in Paris is now CY Cergy-Paris University.) Once at Dundee, the course and approach to teaching made a profound impression on Suleiman. “I particularly remember the commercial contract law classes. The professor used to give us about 40 pieces of information to read on one subject. If you hadn’t read them all, that would’ve been obvious to everyone,” he laughed. “I loved that level of academic rigour. We came to class to discuss, not to be taught in the traditional sense. Taking ownership of your learning, with guidance from the faculty, was an important value.”
Soon after returning to Nigeria, Suleiman returned to the law firm he had worked at in Lagos prior to proceeding to Dundee. Armed with newfound knowledge on cross-border transactions, he successfully made partner thanks to his ability to apply this knowledge to real-world experiences. “The course at Dundee exposed me to international cross-border transactions – how they’re structured and the rules of play. After Dundee I was put on two cross-border projects, the successful completion of which led to the client giving us all its projects at the time, including several cross-border projects in Africa. That was a major career boost.”
At NSIA, a $3.5bn fund which invests in long-term infrastructure assets, Suleiman is involved in complex transactions that cut across sectors such as motorways, energy, agriculture and healthcare. He describes the work as “stimulating” and “rewarding”, especially because it allows him to contribute to Nigeria’s development. He’s currently working on several infrastructure projects including three commercial toll road projects and the Mambilla hydropower project, a development that’s had its fair share of challenges over the last 40 years.
As a member of Dundee’s alumni community in Nigeria, Suleiman praises the strong bonds that exist within the group. “We discuss things and offer each other help. It’s a very big group whose membership includes alumni who graduated from University of Dundee decades back.”
So, what’s next?
“Once I complete some of the most critical infrastructure projects, I will step out of practice and go back to Dundee to do my PhD,” Suleiman said. “My focus will be on continental economic integration, especially how to get the African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA] to a more functional, more productive level. I will be proposing solutions to some of the existential legal challenges.”
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please clickhere
Copyright : Re-publication of this article is authorised only in the following circumstances; the writer and Africa Legal are both recognised as the author and the website address www.africa-legal.com and original article link are back linked. A bio for the writer can be provided on request.