A scientist, Prof. Babatunde Rabiu said that the approval of Executive Order 005 was the major achievement in the Science and Technology (S&T) sector in 2018.
Rabiu, also the Director, Centre for Atmospheric Research, National Space Research and Development Agency (CARNASRDA) said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
NAN recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in Feb. 2018 approved the Executive Order 005 which encourages the Ease of Doing Business and giving preference to local engineering companies in the award of contracts and execution.
The content of the order stipulates that “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.
“Foreign experts will only be engaged on condition that such expertise is not available in Nigeria. Even when they are engaged, Nigerian professionals would be attached to understudy them.”
The Executive Order also required all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to take steps to encourage indigenous professionals in the Diaspora to return to the country and deploy their expertise to develop Nigeria, among other requirements.
Rabiu recalled that the government established the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in 2017 which recognised S&T as the driving force to development.
According to him, no country can develop without developing its engineering and infrastructure capacity which serves as the bedrock of technology for sustainable economic growth.
He said that indigenous technology and engineering firms had been at the front burner of sustaining infrastructure development globally, while putting Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd (ASCL) into perspective.
The director said that ASCL had over the years helped to develop the country in manufacturing steel as well as other local companies.
He regretted that the steel company and other relevant local companies that could foster the implementation of the Executive Order were not taken seriously in recent years.
Rabiu, however, said that the present administration had made efforts in restoring the steel company which needed to be sustained for the country to harness its full potential.
“ASCL is very fundamental to our engineering infrastructure development. All sorts of manufacturing must be largely dependent on locally available raw materials for sustainability.
“Neglect of Ajaokuta project is a neglect of engineering infrastructure development.
“For the recently promulgated Executive Order Number 5 to have reasonable level of efficiency, ASCL must be moved from its present level of 98 per cent completion to 100 per cent with immediate effect.
“If the government fails to finish building the ASCL, Executive Order Number 5 will be another paper tiger.
“In other words, ASCL is the key to execution and implementation of this Executive Order Number 5,” Rabiu said.
The director recalled that the report by the Centre for Global Development of 2012, ranked Nigeria 93rd among underdeveloped nations in infrastructure deficiency and economic turbulence.
According to him, building the capacity of indigenous engineering has been relegated to the background which hampers development in every facet of the nation.
He, however, said that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology was presently working on a bill to convert the Executive Order to law for more impact on the sector.