Is Buhari’s Executive Order on Local Content Right?
Posted: 09/Feb/2018

 The Executive Order signed by the President to improve local content in public procurement in the area of science, engineering and technology, is a good order that will have a positive effect on the Nigerian economy.

I commend the President for signing Executive Order 5, this is the type of a comprehensive economic development order we need. It is an order that is nationalistic and it seeks to truly promote Nigeria’s national interest. This order gives preference to the engagement of Nigerian contractors and Nigerian companies before others are considered.  This type of order is one that will advance the course of Nigeria’s economic and technological development. It is a potentially powerful order that can address many challenges in our economy, beginning from unemployment which is the most serious, to under-employment and under-utilisation of Nigerian technologists, professionals and competent organisations who specialise in providing engineering and technological services in this nation.

This executive order if properly supervised and enforced, will lead to massive job creation because indigenous companies will be in a better position to tap into opportunities to compete favourably with their peers across the world. This is one of the best orders that this administration has signed. I commend the President for issuing this proclamation.  Truly, we need this order to protect major contracts for Nigerian professionals and indigenous companies. This new order will also reinforce the existing local content law in the oil and gas sector. Not only that, all sectors of the Nigerian economy will benefit from it because it is an open executive order with multi-sectorial impact on all sectors of the economy. It will also boost foreign direct investments.

So, by all standards, it is an executive order meant to provide economic opportunities for Nigerian and Nigerian owned companies. I recommend that the order should be fully implemented and the concept should be replicated by all state governments. •Dr. Bola Olaosebikan, OON (A former commissioner, Kwara State)

It is a good move considering what Nigerian professionals stand to gain when the order becomes fully operational. However, the government must be careful not to prevent knowledge transfer from international experts.

It is a known fact that a lot of Nigerians have skills and expertise and as such should be given the opportunity to serve and function in some of areas where we currently have foreigners. This executive order is expected to address such situations and also provide more opportunities for Nigerians.

Every country adopts a local content policy in order to grow its local economy and it is an acceptable practice. This applies to the power as well as other sectors of the economy. Where we have Nigerian engineers who are competent and have what it takes to do the job, why should they not be given preference over others for jobs within the country? I’m all for it. It is just like other countries trying to encourage their local industry. I support anything that the government of Nigeria must do to encourage our local industry to grow.

The presidential order is good and acceptable because it will help grow our economy and generate employment. It is good but in trying to ensure that this works effectively. But government must also consider several other issues that are involved. To make this work effectively, the government must make sure that it puts in place the required value chain and remove bottlenecks which often frustrate efforts to get things done in this country. •Mr. Chijioke James (A legal practitioner/ President of Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria)

It is a right step in the right direction it will also give the Local Content Act a boost. However, there is more to it; it is not all about issuing an executive order. What is the Ministry of Interior doing? What about the Immigration Service?  One thing is to issue an executive order; another is for the order to be carried out.

If they are doing their jobs well, I don’t think these agitations for local content will exist. What we will be talking about will be the exchange of ideas, knowledge and technology.

What Nigeria will gain is that some of the jobs being frittered away will be resident in Nigeria. And if that happens, it means that a lot of the security challenges we are having today can be taken care of.

Again, knowledge matters a lot. Sometimes, when we talk about the exchange of knowledge, if we don’t have our own technology, it will be difficult for someone to transfer his/her technology. So, let our people take up the jobs, if they fail, they should try again and over time, they will improve.

The gain or benefit of ensuring that we embrace local content is a two-way track; one is that it will boost our economy because a lot of Nigerians will be employed and the other is that more Nigerians will acquire knowledge about modern techniques of doing things. • Azubuike Azubuike (Port- Harcourt Zonal Chairman, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria)

There is the Executive Order Act in the Laws of the Federation, but it has not been domesticated by most states. It is a regulation that makes a law more efficient. So, what President Muhammadu Buhari has done is in order.

There is a Local Content Act and what he has done is to give a regulation to make it effective. I do not think that this Executive Order repeals the Local Content Act. For certain administrative conveniences, the President would need to make some regulations.

If the Executive Order signed by the President is inconsistent with the Act, the court will declare it null and void. If it is inconsistent with any Act of the National Assembly, it will be declared null and void. For now, as long as the Executive Order is not inconsistent with the provisions of the Local Content Act, Laws of the Federation, it is in order. For instance, in Cross River State, we have not domesticated the Local Content Act because we do not want to scare our investors away if they insist on certain local standards, which of course, we can achieve through a policy. When President Buhari was away on medical vacation, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, signed two executive orders.

They are like mini-legislation within the Act to enable administrative convenience and to ensure that the law becomes an instrument of social change. But any executive order that is contrary to the provisions of the principal Act or contrary to the Constitution, is declared null and void. •Mr. John Gaul-Lebo (Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly

Yes, the Executive Order is the right step in the right direction. We should not grant work permits to expatriates where Nigerians are available especially in this period when the youth unemployment rate is 52.6 per cent based on the recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

In fact, the order in itself is not a reinvention of any wheel; we are simply doing the right thing that other countries have also been doing for years.

Relevant government agencies especially the Immigration Service should ensure its religious implementation for the benefit of Nigerians. •Mr.  Rislanudeen Mohammed (Managing Director, Safmur Investments Limited)

The local content law has existed for a very long time in the petroleum and gas sector. The intention is to ensure that indigenous engineers and contractors are trained to handle most of the jobs within the petroleum, oil and gas sector. I understand that by signing the Executive Order, President Muhammadu Buhari has widened the scope of local content to include other sectors of the economy.  I think this is a right step in the right direction to stimulate the economy, because foreign contractors handling most of the jobs in Nigeria engage Nigerian professionals and other category of staff to do the job.

If you give the jobs to foreign companies, you encourage capital flight because after the foreign contractors complete the job and take their payment, they repatriate the capital to their countries and that leads to capital flight.

If most of these jobs are given to local contractors to handle, the capital will stay in the country and it will have a multiplier effect on the nation because the money will be kept in Nigerian banks. This will be given as loans to the real sector of economy and this will help us to develop. It is very good step in the right direction if properly handled because most of our problems are insider abuse and distortion and fraudulent practices. If it is properly handled, it is going to have a multiplier effect on the economy and this will lead to economic growth.

Nigerian professionals are sound and good but we need to regularly update our skills to remain globally competitive. We must also improve on our standards. •Mr.  Issa Manzumah (Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin chapter)

Source: Punch News

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