Recession: NSE Pushes for Local Content in Nigeria-China Infrastructure Treaty

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Says government cannot continue to overlook engineering
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has asked the federal government to ensure that Nigeria gets maximum benefits in terms of job placements for its citizens in the various infrastructure delivery deal it is signing with China.

The NSE said such local content provision would ensure that more Nigerians are engaged in the various infrastructure projects to be undertaken by China in the country, and not instances of foreign nationals taking up jobs that should go to Nigerians.

The society also said it wants the National Assembly to urgently amend six laws that could boost engineering activities in the country.
These laws, it said, border on the metallurgical industry, iron and steel development, the road sector reform and water resources industry laws.

The President of NSE, Otis Anyaeji, said when he hosted engineers elected into the National Assembly, and members of the Nigerian Youth Parliament (NYP) yesterday at the National Engineering Headquarters in Abuja that these issues were been pursued by the society.

The NYP had presented him with a certificate of credence on his contributions to the engineering profession in Nigeria.
He also said the government cannot continue to ignore the contributions the engineering profession can bring to the table in helping Nigeria overcome its challenges with national development.

According to him, the country has for long failed to follow the dictates of engineering in planning and building her infrastructure. That, he added, has led to a complete collapse of her infrastructure which she now looks to countries like China to help rebuild.

“The country is in dire straits with regards to infrastructure, there is serious deficit because of the absence of legislation and refusal to keep to standards.

“There is a lot of work to do from the parliamentary aspects, and 95 per cent of the work of government is engineering-based, so engineering needs to be brought in at all levels of intervention in Nigeria’s development,” said Anyaeji.
He further stated: “If we do our infrastructure following the dictates of engineering, we will have national assets that will live out their lifespans and be of service to citizens for much longer period.”

On its push for Nigeria to seek maximum benefits from its infrastructure building agreement with China, he said: “The Society is seeking the enhancement of local content in Nigeria’s infrastructural development under the Nigerian-Chinese bilateral agreement.”

Anyaeji said the metallurgical industry laws as passed by the immediate past assembly lacked the ability to turn around the country’s metallurgical fortunes by enabling large scale industrialisation, hence the need for the lawmakers to consider the version submitted by the society which has taken into cognizance such vital element.
He lamented the slow pace step towards the institutionalisation of the road sector reforms, saying that it had dragged on for the last 40 years. He thus urged the lawmakers to support the Society’s position and expedite action on its passage into law.

Anyaeji drew the attention of the lawmakers to the water resources industry bill, saying there was an urgent need to review the policy framework of Nigeria’s water sector with a view to provide portable water for domestic, industrial and hydro power generation amongst other crucial needs.
“We have carefully studied the existing water bill and therefore proposed amendment to the Act, and we are ready to work with the National Assembly on this,” he stated.