FROM its inception 57 years ago, Nigerian engineers have occupied enviable position and made some landmark strides, but foreign experts seem to hold sway in some aspect of your professional practice in the country. Why is it so?
Government (at all levels in Nigeria) normally chooses to patronise foreign contractors and service providers instead of indigenous professionals because of lack of adequate policy framework to protect the indigenous engineering personnel. This has resulted in a very slow pace of capacity building and rising level of unemployment in the country. The irony of this development/trend is the fact that these neglected indigenous professionals would, in turn, be employed by the foreign contracting companies to do the same job in the end.
In light of this unfortunate development, NSE has taken several steps in the past to address this anomaly through advocacy but we are not getting the adequate government support needed to address this issue, which is strongly inimical to our industrial growth and development. However, we are not relenting on our commitment to strengthen our advocacy efforts in this direction. For instance, we have presented our position paper and recommendations on moving the economy forward from our perspectives to the President-elect, Gen. Muhammad Buhari (rtd). I have also recently set up another committee to further review this paper and synthesize it, after taking in additional submissions from our 15 fellowship E-Groups on different aspects of the economy, with a view of producing a stronger viewpoint.
The preference for foreign contractors, goods and services has to be tackled and discouraged. Government must encourage indigenous consultants and contractors to grow. All the foreign contractors currently patronised by our government did not start big, and no external person will develop our country for us. We need laws that will ensure that contracts below a particular threshold be awarded to indigenous engineering companies. Then, contracts above this threshold could only be given to foreign companies with local partnerships and these partners must not just be nominal partners.
NSE has been collaborating, influencing and providing quality advice to the various arms of the government, industry, commerce, the academia and the society. Which areas have your members made notable achievements? Can you mention some of them?
As you have rightly pointed out, top on the agenda of the NSE is to sufficiently partner our government and the relevant institutions for the sole purpose of bringing about advancement to improve the lot of our citizenry. This takes various forms, a classical example being influencing of government policies. We are motivated to do this with deep patriotism because we are aware that the dominant world economies have attained their current state essentially for their dedication to, and appreciation of, the practice of engineering.
I can tell you that the idea of establishing current National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) was initiated by us. The Agency is charged with development and implementation of National Policy on Science and Engineering Infrastructure accordingly.
I can tell you that the spiral effect of this singular advice has led to the emergence of our space technology institutions, Remote Sensing Agency and many other institutions that have either directly or indirectly enhanced our technological and economic development.
The precursor to the Nigerian (Oil and Gas) Content Development Law of 2010 is NSE’s Nigerian Content Committee, which is a standing committee set up by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in 2006 to undertake studies and propagate the totality of composite value added or created in the Nigerian economy, through the utilization of Nigerian human and material resources for the provision of goods and services to all facets of our industrial and social life, without compromising quality, health, safety and environmental standards. The Law is therefore framed within the context of growth of Nigerian entrepreneurship and domestication of assets in line with Nigeria’s strategic developmental goals.
The establishment of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in April 22, 2010, by President Goodluck Jonathan with the mandate to seek to increase indigenous participation in the Oil and Gas industry, build local capacity and competences and create linkages to other sectors of the national economy to boost industry contributions to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is part of the outcome of the initiative of Nigerian Engineers.
We have continued to push for an all encompassing replication of the content development in other sectors; this includes patronage of made in Nigeria products. We have two major electricity transformers manufacturing companies, fully licensed and in full operation in Nigeria; namely: Danelec FZE and Elsewedy Electric Company Limited, both, in their combined capacity, have continually strived to proffer logical and practical solutions to the challenges of economic development, especially in the electricity generation and distribution sector.
SOURCE: Guardian Newspaper, Monday 20 April 2015