The emergence of this administration held a lot of promises for Nigerians. In his inaugural speech, President Muhammadu Buhari, among other things, assured Nigerians that locally made goods and service would be accorded top priority in his administration.
This, he said, would strengthen the Naira, improve the economy and create both direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians. Infact, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, hinted at many fora of government’s readiness and commitment to work with indigenous engineers so as to boost the country’s technological base. Recall also that sometime in 2010 Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, which became law, that gave birth to the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), was enacted to protect stakeholders in that sector against domination by foreign players. This is to enable indigenous manufacturers contribute their quota adequately towards the development of the economy.
Unfortunately, some years down the line, the implementation of the law has been very weak and only exists on paper. It has not yielded the desired objective.
Some of the indigenous manufacturers including, Peter Abel, Managing Director, Petrock Tech. Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of oil and gas installation products, oven and bakery equipment, among others, who frowned at the non-patronage of their products and service due to weak implementation of the local content law, recently stated that, “we are not getting enough patronage for our products in Nigeria. Instead major companies prefer to import their equipment”. He further stated that if well patronized, they would contribute appreciably to the economy, but foreign investors will repatriate their proceeds and cause further job losses in Nigeria.
Although, experts argued in a forum recently that the quality of some equipment produced in the country do not conform with the standard required by the end users, maybe due to superior technology with which they were produced overseas. But Peter Abel disagreed with them on that, insisting that Nigerian products can compete with the ones imported into the country. He further stated that, “it is just that Nigerians have penchant for foreign goods”. Other stakeholders also decried the neglect of locally made equipment, goods and services in preference for imported ones by companies operating in Nigeria, positing that it negated the patronage of made- in –Nigeria mantra of the present administration.
Government should know that the countries where these technologies are imported from may not want us to development ours, owing to the fact that if it is done, our dependence on them will reduce, economy will improve direct and indirect jobs will be created for our citizens.
In view of the aforementioned, it is imperative to enforce the local content law to the letter to stimulate the growth of indigenous companies and protect them from folding up. The Federal government and all the relevant agencies saddled with the role of enforcing the law should be alive to their responsibilities. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of science and Technology, particularly, being the supervisor of the technology arm of this government, should make concerted effort at enforcing the rules as a matter of priority. They should also convene a stakeholders conference where experts will suggest ways and means of improving on our technology. Besides, government can generate a data base of indigenous manufacturers of technological products, for instance, which can serve as a pool where agencies, organizations, others can approach when the need arises..
Okwute Ifeanyi, Media Practitioner, writes from Lagos. [email protected], 08127588053