The federal government yesterday disclosed its resolve to place premium on the use of indigenous professionals and firms in the design and execution of projects involving national security. The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said this at a media briefing on the Presidential Executive Order Five, in Lagos.
Also, Onu said henceforth, foreign experts would only be engaged in the country, on condition that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.
"Even when they are engaged, Nigerian professionals would be attached to understudy them," he said.
According to him,the Presidential Executive Order Number Five borders on the planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts, science, engineering and technology.
Onu said all foreign experts working in Nigeria have to be certified by the appropriate regulatory bodies, explaining that in such cases, efforts will be intensified to train Nigerians to have the same skills.
"No expatriate quota will be granted unless such skills are completely unavailable. In some special cases, foreign experts will be admitted into Nigeria under a special Immigration classification to share knowledge with Nigerians. Also, all MDAs are to take steps to encourage indigenous professionals in the Diaspora to return home and use their expertise to develop Nigeria," he added.
According to the minister, the federal government recognises the use of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in achieving sustainable growth for Nigeria.
"For the first time, science, technology and innovation has been recognised as occupying the central place for all economic activities in all sectors in the country. People now recognise the central role of science and technology in the economic development of our country," the minister added.
He described the government's executive order number five as a revolutionary instrument which the Buhari administration deployed to redirect the Nigerian economy, from its old, unsustainable path of being resource-based to a new, sustainable and inclusive path of being a knowledge and innovation driven economy.
The Executive Order number five is meant to promote patriotism, love of country and economic nationalism as potent tools for a new social engineering of our dear country.
It is also expected to trigger what the minister described as a silent revolution in how "we think as a people and how we regard science and technology as the missing link in our quest to become a truly great nation."
"The Buhari administration expects that in the next 10-20 years, Nigerian companies and firms will be competing with the very best in other parts of the world for projects and contracts in international tenders."
The Executive Order five is made up of 18 sections covering various headings: Preferences; Accreditation; Contract Award; Language of Contract; Capacity Development; Disqualification from Contract Award; Database of Experts in Nigeria; Expatriate Quota; Local Material; Tax Incentives; Punishment for violation of Executive Order; Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council; Member of the Council; Review of Order; Miscellaneous; Application; Definitions of Terms; Effective Date of the Order.
The Executive Order enjoins procuring entities to give preference to Nigerian companies and firms when awarding contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
"Hence Nigerian companies and indigenous firms have the opportunity more than ever before to participate in national development through the award of contracts and also to serve as consultants. The age of a firm will not be important, so long as it is legally registered and possesses requisite qualification, competence and experience in the management and execution of such contracts," he added.