The Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) has joined others to praise President Muhammadu Buhari over the signing Executive Order 5 that prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.
The President of NAS, Prof. Mosto Onuoha told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the government action to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components would make the desired impact only if properly enforced.
The executive order signed on Monday is expected to promote application of science, technology and innovation toward achieving the nation’s development goals across all sectors of the economy.
Specifically, the executive order states that where expertise is lacking, the 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.
It also demands ministries, departments and agencies should engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects.
Onuoha said: “This is good but it has to be matched by government with what it takes for the order to be carried out.
“We need the same government that gave the executive order to provide what it takes for the order to be effectively carried out.
“There are many laws that are not enforced in the country; so, implementing the order should be uppermost on government’s mind.”
Onuoha urged the Federal Government to give relevant agencies the `push’ to enforce the order.
“Within a month to six weeks, results should be expected.
“If the country is banning chemical importation for instance, we should ask ourselves how this should be sourced locally; what should be the replacement,’’ he said.
The NAS president said that although Nigerians were not totally ready to handle all contracts being managed by foreigners, “we have many of them (foreigners) doing things an ordinary Nigerian can do”.
He called on Nigerians to eschew the `Nigerian factor’ to make the government action to impact much on the economy.
He said, “There are some people who for a little things can turn away their eyes or sign off anything.’’
He called for increased whistle blowing so that the `bad eggs’ could be apprehended and prosecuted.
A former Chairman of the Ilorin Branch of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr Bashiru Lawal, also hailed the signing of the executive order.
Lawal, the Chief Executive Officer of Bal Engineering Ltd. told newsmen in Ilorin that the order was apt, timely and capable of reducing unemployment.
He regretted that many contracts that could have been successfully executed by local engineers were being awarded to foreigners.
“Employable graduates are wasting away owing to the fact that they cannot channel their brains to productive engagements,’’ he said.
According to him, the signing of the order will curb unnecessary patronage of foreign experts and boost the nation’s economy.
The engineer called on the other tiers of government to replicate the executive order to encourage local experts.
“Let me use this medium to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for ordering that, henceforth, projects and all things that go in Nigeria in terms of science, engineering and technology should be handled by Nigerians except where it goes beyond our powers.
“It will reduce unemployment and increase professionals’ ability to practice what they are being taught, and there will be economic buoyancy.
“I appeal to our colleagues in governments to ensure that they perform well.
“On behalf of engineers in Nigeria, I want to appreciate Mr President for that initiative,” he said.