Early in the month in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari issued and signed an executive order aimed at the improvement of the local content in public procurement in the areas of science, engineering and technology components.
Tagged “Presidential Executive Order Five’, the order which is targeted at the promotion of the application and adaptation of scientific and technological innovations in the nation’s development goals and desiderata is expected to ensure that national development focus is driven principally by home-driven devices and activities across all the sectors of the economy.
In very simple and practical terms, the Order expects that no component of nation’s development in science and technology that can be provided by Nigerians should be outsourced to non- Nigerians.
To that extent, the Ministry of Interior has been prohibited from offering visas to foreigners with skills which are available locally.
It, however, notes that where expertise is lacking, procuring entities will give preference to foreign companies and firms with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development, prior to the award of such contracts. That is the only way through which any talk of transfer of technology can become meaningful.
The AUTHORITY, like most other patriotic observers, while hailing the Executive Order, which we believe is really overdue, however, note that the Executive Order is only meaningful if it is executed to the letter and safeguards erected to ensure that it is not sabotaged by different vested interests from within and outside the country. It is clear that the provisions of this Order have been in practice in different variations but had been flouted both by Nigerian officials in the different implementing in collusion with foreign entities who stand to benefit from flouting the provisions.
Different administrations in the country have enacted legislations aimed at protecting the Nigerian indigenous worker who has skills to contribute to the nation’s socio-economic life. That is for years, there have been different regulations for checking the quota of foreign workers which companies and foreign procurers are allowed to bring into the country to perform functions which Nigerians can perform.
It is clear that over time, the expatriate quota regulations have been observed more in breach, even as foreign contractors, especially from the Asian countries obtain expatriate quotas for highly skilled workers but instead import such lowly skilled workers like cooks and cleaners who are passed off as engineers and scientists.
Without firmer regulatory regimes, there is no way the new Executive Order 5 can make any difference from what had been in practice.
It has been repeated ad naseum that the problem with Nigeria is in not with the lack or absence of good laws and regulations, but rather that there are hardly the will to enforce or implement the excellent ideas that exist.
THE AUTHORITY hopes that the “Executive Order Five’ will be accompanied with the will to make it work.