A public lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE) in honour of the founder of the Institution, Engr. Hamed Olugbenga Lawal titled:”National Local Construction Industry-Strategies For Optimal Deployment For Engineering Professionals” which took place in Lagos at the weekend afforded the participants opportunity to know local content Order no 5.
The Local Content Order 5 empowers indigenous engineers to take advantage of the content of jobs which had for some time been taken over by foreign firms.
Speaking on the topic, the keynote speaker, Engr. James Owivri, who said that the local content law, which has been deliberately put in place to encourage indigenous professionals, would make them to put in their best into the system and that by so doing there would be new developments.
He said that it would engage the professionals, and that the question of unemployment would be addressed and that it will ultimately enhance the society and also enhance development of the professionals.
“It would also drive the nation’s economy because various infrastructures that are on ground would attract foreign investment into the country,’ he said.
Engr. Owivri opined that prior to the advent of national policies that grant concession to indigenous engineers to partake in professional activities, it had always been the desire of indigenous professionals that such an opportunity should be created for them.
He said that by and large there’s nothing spectacular about foreign firms, which come to Nigeria to do what indigenous engineers could handle.
“You would be amazed that in certain circumstances, the assignments given to foreign firms, it’s the local and indigenous professionals that execute them.
“The only difference it would make now is that it would make indigenous firms to compete with local professionals.
“Opportunity has been given to local professionals to do what they are good at doing. They are very much up to the task and they would live up to the expectation of the government,” Owivri said.
While expressing his opinion on the topic, Engr. Olugbenga Hamed Lawal said that local contents policies are very crucial to the nation’s development.
He said that he is a product of local and content because he got sponsorship of foreign partners, when he was in the university for his degree program.
He said that he spent eight years with the company after his graduation just to appreciate them and that since then, he has been enjoying the policies even before its enactment.
“We must appreciate the fact that competition enhances development. That we are talking about local content does not mean that we should do away with foreign content, the two must exist side by side so that we could make progress,” he said.
He added that he had been in the construction business since 1980/81 and that his firm has been able to make laudable successes till today.
He said that all the companies he had been privileged to head had not employed expatriates till today.
“We have restrained ourselves to local content. Even when some clients were asking if we had expatriates, we are always proud to say we are 100 percent Nigerian, although there are some jobs Nigerians could not do, because our experience has not reached that stage,” he said.
Also speaking, Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye said that the topic is apt and that Nigerian engineers are really ready to take up local content policies.
She believed that as engineers “we have given our rightly place to the ‘lots’, sorry to use such language.
“The building collapse portends good opportunity for us to go back to the basic and ask ourselves, where did we go wrong? It starts from the public lecture. If we leave this public lecture and we end up going back to do the same thing, it would amount to another jamboree.
“The elders in the profession must sit down, and the builders too must talk to themselves. It’s time for the professionals to come out. What does local content really say? It starts from if we really have building code or we don’t have building code and what time limit do we give ourselves to get certain things done.
“And the moment we say who are the professionals for different levels of development, who could practice, we must never give our food to the dogs and if we have done that in the past, it is never too late to take it away from them and then decide that we would do these things professionally well,” she said.
She added that engineers must discover what they have done in the past using the same method.
According to her, “this might not work. I have done this one in the past, what are the modern ways of doing things.”
The SA said that she has over 140 projects at hand, and that her weekly dashboard is there to monitor the projects on daily basis.
“I don’t need to get to a lot of sites. You could even leverage on the technology to do it better, that’s what we are currently doing.
“Local content, yes it’s good, we must patronize our own, but are our own local ones ready to endure, are they ready to persevere. We should ask ourselves different questions, how many consultants are here, how many engineers actually want to go into consultancy.
“Who are the people approving drawings for us, how many pro technical do we have. It is far from the basic, otherwise we will keep crying for day and night and at the end of the day the whole thing is left undone and unrepaired. We must tell ourselves the truth,” she said.
She then advocated for special courts that would punish erring members, who fail to carryout their responsibilities as expected.