Home-grown professionals, particularly engineers have been urged to up their game and improve their capacity in order to fill in the void in the country’s infrastructure terrain.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, made this known recently, after seeing the need to charge Nigerian engineers to stand up and fill the vacuum currently existing in the construction industry, saying it was because of such vacuum that foreign construction firms now dominated the nation’s infrastructure development.
Fashola, who spoke while hosting the President and other Executive Committee members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, recently, urged them to develop capacity that would enable them handle the nation’s infrastructure development saying the country needed engineers more than ever before, especially now as the nation sought national development.
“There is a vacuum and unless we honestly stand up and accept that there is indeed a vacuum and look in the mirror and tell ourselves honestly that we don’t like what we see, it will not change”, Fashola said, while adding that there was hardly any Nigerian firm that could effectively take on any big construction in the country.
“I can tell you from experience if we are talking of rail, how many Nigerian firms design rail? I looked and I advertised when I wanted to start my rail project as Governor of Lagos and there was no response from any Nigerian firm. We advertised, but some of the biggest construction firms that I spoke to at the time said they don’t construct rail,” he further noted..
Pointing out that the foreign companies doing business in the country were not government owned, Fashola urged the engineers that the first step to building capacity was to first recognise the limitations.
always the best ides to quickly point accusing fingers at the government. “While we point fingers at government we must point those fingers also at ourselves; and that is why I said we must look in the mirror”, he said.
While noting that indeed foreign private companies doing business in the country and competing with local firms often brought their funding into the system from their countries’ Export and Import Loans, the Minister said the Nigerian Government could also negotiate such loans for the local engineers including the conditions.“These are the kinds of funds the Chinese companies bring into Nigeria and it is true that there are conditions tied to those loans but they are conditions we can also negotiate”, he said.