Deepening knowledge-based economy that is innovation-driven and ensuring rapid movement of Nigeria towards becoming an industrialised nation are the two most important elements missing in the country's quest towards attaining economic buoyant status, according to some technology and economic experts. Without these two elements, they said, the country may find it difficult to climb the economic and technological ladder of development.
In 2018, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Executive Order 5, the Federal Government hinted that the executive order will take care of the two missing elements. But this has yet to happen, four years after.
In a proclamation entitled "Presidential Executive Order for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology," President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to the authority vested in him by the constitution, signed on Friday, February 2, 2018 the Executive Order No. 5 ("EO5") by which all Ministries, Departments and Agencies ("MDAs") of government were directed to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and maximise in-country capacity in all contracts and transactions with science, engineering and technology components.
The thrust of the EO5 is the recognition of the vital role of science, technology and innovation in national economic development, particularly in the area of promoting Made in Nigeria Goods and Services ("MNGS"). Strategically, the main objectives of the EO5 are the harnessing of domestic talents and the development of indigenous capacity in science and engineering for the promotion of technological innovation needed to drive national competitiveness, productivity and economic activities which will invariably enhance the achievement of the nation's development goals across all sectors of the economy.
The EO5 makes certain specific directives which include the following:
All procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007;
Where expertise is lacking, procuring entities shall give preference to foreign companies and firms with demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous capacity development, prior to the award of such contracts;
MDAs shall engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and consideration shall only be given to a foreign professional, where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria;
Nigerian companies or firms duly registered in accordance with the laws of Nigeria, with current practising licence shall be lead in any consultancy services involving Joint Venture (JV) relationships and agreements, relating to Law, Engineering, ICT, Architecture, Procurement, Quantity Surveying, and etc.;
MDAs shall ensure that before the award of any contract, Nigerian counterpart staff are engaged from the conception stage to the end of the project and shall also adopt local technology that meet set standards to replace foreign ones;
The Ministry of Interior is prohibited from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria;
The Federal Government shall introduce Margin of Preference ("MoP") in National Competitive Bidding, in the evaluation of tenders, from indigenous suppliers of goods manufactured locally over foreign goods (MoP shall be 15% for both international competitive bidding for Goods and domestic contractors for national competitive bidding for Goods. For Works for domestic contractors, the MoP shall be 7.5%);
Foreign companies or firms shall not be engaged in contracts for Works, Goods, and Services in the country in violation of the standard international best practices as provided for under relevant statutes such as the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), Council for Regulation of Engineering (COREN) Act, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management Act, Public Procurement Act, and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act as well as other relevant Nigerian laws and regulations on acquisition of technology and conduct of public procurement;
MDAs shall ensure that all professionals practising in the country are duly registered with the appropriate regulatory bodies in Nigeria, and shall ensure, in collaboration with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, that all foreign professional certificates are domesticated with the relevant professional bodies before being considered for any contract award or employment in Nigeria;
Agreements involving any Joint Venture and Public Private Partnership (PPP) between a foreign firm and a Nigerian firm, for technology acquisition or otherwise, shall be registered with the National Office for Technology Acquisition ("NOTAP") in accordance with the provisions of the NOTAP Act, before such contract are signed by the MDAs;
A Nigerian company or firm shall not be disqualified from an award of contract by any MDA on the basis of the year of incorporation except on the basis of qualification, competence and experience of the management in the execution of similar contracts;
NOTAP shall develop, maintain and regularly update a Data Base of Nigerians with expertise in science, engineering, technology and other fields of expertise while the Ministry of Interior shall take into consideration the NOTAP Data Base together with other similar data from the Nigerian Academy of Engineering; Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and other relevant Ministries; in determining the availability of local skilled manpower in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the grant of Expatriate Quota;
The secretariat is domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI), managed by the Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order No. 5 (SITOPEO-5) and headed by a national coordinator.
The mandate of the secretariat includes overseeing a complaints/appeal board that will receive administrative complaints and appeals from communities, stakeholders, professional bodies, contractors, manufacturers around MDAs planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology for remediation.
But just recently, the SITOPEO-5 organised a sensitisation workshop on the full implementation of Presidential Executive Order No. 5 in Abuja. Giving his keynote address, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, explained that the Order is more than just another move by the government to promote local content; rather, a policy on technology development.
Onu, who described the order as a revolutionary presidential executive order, said it is the Ministry's contribution to assist and transform the nation to its "God-ordained level."
The minister explained that Nigeria still depends on expatriates for the turn-around maintenance of her refineries because there was no enabling policy for home-grown professionals to understudy the foreigners and invariably become self-sufficient in using those technologies.
He maintained that Nigeria needs to create the right environment using policy and legal framework to ensure that Nigerian professionals participate and acquire these technologies for national development.
The minister further expressed confidence that the complaints/appeal procedure would address the various complaints in all sectors of the economy, even as he congratulated the national coordinator of the strategy implementation task office of the Presidential Executive Order No 005 and his team for their hard work, urging them to continue to work hard until the nation's goal is achieved, stressing that Nigerians are tired of importing everything she uses.
Speaking, the National Coordinator of the Strategy implementation task office of the Presidential Executive Order No. 05 (SITOPEO-5) Engr. Ibiam Oguejiofor said the order will encourage Nigerian youths to be at the centre of socio-economic activities.
While presenting his paper on the "Historical Background Functionality of Executive Order No. 5 and its Compliance, Oguejiofor pointed out that under the prevailing National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NSTIP), the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI) will collaborate with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government and organisations to promote the application of science, technology and innovation in all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He added that remediation of the order enhances the desirability to increase the quantum of value created in the Nigerian economy through increased Nigerian content in public procurement.
Oguejiofor further said that, under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017 - 2020), the ministry promotes the "Made in Nigeria Goods Campaign" and will harness STI to drive national competitiveness, productivity and economic activities in all sectors.
"The Executive Order 5 provides the environment for the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation being a service ministry of the Federal Government to interact with all relevant agencies and organisations, synergising and promoting the application of science, technology and innovation results in all sectors of Nigeria's economy - industrial growth, metrology, human capital development, agriculture, health, environment, energy, banking and finance, communications, women and youth empowerment, job creation, tourism, trade, science acculturation, meteorology, natural resources, building construction, national security, nuclear science and technology, sports and recreation, diplomacy, transport etc.," he added.
Speaking on the applicability of the Executive Order 5 to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, a SITOPEO-5 coordinator, Mr. Sunday Uyeh, posited that the full implementation of the order will no doubt support the realisation of President Muhammadu Buhari's promise on June 12 to move 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
"The Federal Government of Nigeria recognises her commitment to the promotion of domestic foreign investments, creation of employment and stimulation of the nation's economy.
"Also, it is important to state that entrenching science, technology and innovation (STI) in everyday life is key to achieving the nation's development goals across all sectors of the economy, particularly in the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (STISA) 2024, STISA 2063, SDG 2030 and Vision 2020," he added.