Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Wya
By Ejiofor Alike
Apparently miffed that Chinese companies executing power projects in the country discriminate against Nigerians at the various stages of the projects, the Federal Government has warned these firms to employ more Nigerians to participate in these projects for the purposes of continuity and transfer of knowledge.
Government’s intervention followed complaints by some Nigerian technical professionals that they were not given equal opportunities like their foreign counterparts in the execution of power projects by Chinese and other foreign firms.
Confirming government’s position on the matter, the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Way, said the Economic Management Team of this present administration had resolved that all contracts awarded by the administration must have a clause to compel foreign contractors to engage competent Nigerians at all levels of the projects.
The Minister told journalists at the Omotosho Power Station in Ogun State last week that the idea of bringing expatriates as gardeners and welders was no longer acceptable.
“Now, I have come today to disclose that to the contractors. I have seen that there are one or two Nigerian engineers engaged by these contractors but this is not enough,” he said.
Wya noted that the directive came from the highest level of government to ensure that it was taken seriously by the contractors.
“I said as a member of the cabinet and coming from the economic management team, I have come to read this riot act to them to ensure that Nigerians are employed at all levels, so that there will be continuity. After all, Nigeria has a very good diplomatic relationship with China.
We have facilities to draw from China Export- Import Bank and we have students schooling in China. There should therefore be that unity of purpose in developing our human capacity from both countries at all times, and I believe that China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, will take this advice I have given them very seriously,” he said.
The China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation is the contractor handling that built the 335megawatt capacity Phase 1 of the Omotosho plant and is also executing Phase 2, with a capacity to generate 500megawatts.
However, the company was accused of excluding Nigerians in the execution of the project and bringing in expatriates as cooks and gardeners.
Addressing the General Manager of the Project, Mr. Liu Zhao Long, the Minister said: “If you cooperate with us, we work together. You cannot bring cook, welder and gardener from China.”
But Long told the Minister that one of the expatriate engineers was one of the top five reputable experts in China in the area of building power plants.