Highlighting the need for local content in construction industry
The continued influx of foreign construction companies and professionals into Nigeria and their preference by the Federal Government to indigenous firms and professionals have continued to worry building and construction stakeholders who recently urged the federal government and other relevant agencies to henceforth invoke the local content act during contract awards in this industry.

The local content act, which more prominent in the Oil and Gas industry but applicable to the building and construction sector, seeks to widen and deepen local content regulations in the hope of placing indigenous construction companies and professionals on a level playing field with their international counterparts.

Because this has not been the case, the stakeholders who frown at the prevailing trend where expatriates are rated superior to them threatened to explore all possible strategies to upturn the status quo in their favour including commencing necessary legal actions against defaulters.

In his keynote address at a CED Magazine award forum in Lagos recently, Bosun Ayinde, past president, Nigerian Institute of Surveyors (NIS), queried the reason behind government’s continued preference of foreign construction firms and professionals to their local counterparts.

Ayinde, who spoke on ‘Investing in and Financing Infrastructure Paradigm; Enhancing Indigenous Participation in Infrastructure Development’, said he could not see any sense of belonging expected of a Nigerian professional when he is often bypassed in favour of his foreign counterpart who is, in most cases, less qualified, less competent and less experienced.

“Nor can I see any sense of patriotism of those government officials who choose to entrust such projects in the hands of foreigners at the expense of Nigerian Nationals,” he added.

Acknowledging that some indigenous professionals or companies have de-marketed themselves by either delivering projects behind schedule or found wanting for ethical practices, he maintained that these reasons are not strong enough for government to keep over-looking local talents.

Ayinde quoted Engr. Lanre Sagaya, FNSE, FNAE and past president, Association of Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN) a previous recipient of the award, as saying that “the patronage of foreign construction firms spell doom for indigenous engineering and construction firms in Nigeria,” adding that the work ethics of some of the foreign firms does not dictate of international best practices in construction industry.”

Citing the ongoing construction of a terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), as a reference point, the past president explained that projects of such magnitude were best conceived and delivered by indigenous professionals.

“I do not see any need to give any job to a foreigner when our local firms have no job to execute and our professionals are out of employment. In this day and age when government awards developmental projects to foreign firms and such policy makers are themselves Nigerians and professionals, it is my submission that such professionals have failed themselves, failed the profession and failed our nation,” he asserted.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the publisher, CED Magazine and National Coordinator of Construction and Engineering Digest Forum/Award, Kenneth Odusola-Stevenson call on Development Professionals to be ready to collaborate and form partnership in order to ensure equal participation in the oil and gas industry and the infrastructure sector. He further stated that in the last 18 years of the forum a lot has been achieved in terms of development, but more need to be done, especially with the current state of nation’s finance to finance infrastructure which neccesitate a real paradigm shift.

Agency Report/BusinessDay

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