Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government tuesday indicated it would enact an executive order that would make it mandatory to engage mostly Nigerian firms in execution of all its public infrastructure contracts.
It explained through the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonanya Onu, at the 2017 edition of the annual engineering conference and general meeting of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abuja, that the executive order would also emphasis that foreign firms seeking to bid and execute its contracts must have a good level of affiliation with indigenous firms in the country before they could be considered for such.
The decision on the executive order, Onu stated, was to ensure a speedy transfer of technical and engineering knowledge to Nigerian firms and persons by foreign operators.
At the conference, the NSE also conferred on four individuals â€“ Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, the Group Managing Director of Nestoil, Mr. Alfred Okoigun, Group Managing Director of Arco Group Plc, Mr. James Olotu, pioneer Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Ltd. (NDPHC), and Elder Nathaniel Okoro, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) with its honorary fellows medal.
According to the government, the executive order would mostly apply to infrastructure projects and contracts that are related to the national security of Nigeria. It added that through the executive order, indigenous engineering firms and persons could benefit from the implementation of its Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP) which it recently launched.
Onu, said that through the NERGP, the government was undertaking a big economic reform that will change the economic status of Nigeria, and that it would ensure that processes of contract awards which hitherto do not benefit indigenous firms with credible capacities would be changed to empower Nigerians to develop the country.
He also noted that the executive order which the government was considering, would ensure that the ministries of foreign and internal affairs only issue expatriate quotas to firms that abide by the request of the government to merge with local firms to execute projects.
Onu, who decried the slow pace of knowledge transfer in most of the sectors of Nigeriaâ€™s economy that foreign firms operate, explained that it was the incidence of such slow or lethargic knowledge transfer process that has left the countryâ€™s four petroleum products refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna, less functional.
In his remarks however, the President of NSE, Mr. Otis Anyaeji, explained that the 2017 conference which was the societyâ€™s 50th edition, was carefully crafted to brainstorm and advise the government on how to use technology and engineering to achieve its economic diversification plan.
He noted that the idea of merging the power, housing and works sectors under one ministry could only work in small countries with the size and population of a state in Nigeria, but not likely in Nigeria.
According to him: â€œUnder normal situation, housing is supposed to be on its own as a ministry because it has the widest linkage effect and impact of establishing manufacturing industries in the country.â€
He thus stated that the recent disclosure that President Muhammadu Buhari, was considering splitting the ministry of power, works and housing, to stand alone, was welcoming, and urged him to equally unbundle some ministries and populate them with the right personnel.