Architects seek passage of local content bill for construction industry

Nigeria's National-Theater, an architectural landmark26 August 2014, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The adoption of Nigerian Content guidelines and models is sweeping across major sectors of the economy, with the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) canvassing on Friday for the passage of the bill that will enforce the implementation of local content in the construction industry.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2014 quarterly dinner organized by the Abuja chapter of the NIA, Secretary to the National Planning Commission, Mr. Fidelis Ugbo explained that the construction industry should aim to replicate the successes achieved with the Nigerian Content Act in the oil and gas industry implemented by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

He noted that the construction industry was regarded as the barometer for measuring the health of any economy, regretting that Nigeria’s construction industry which gulps over 80 per cent of the capital budget of all tiers of government had been dominated by expatriate companies since independence.

He however, expressed confidence that the excellent performance of Nigerian service companies in the oil and gas sector can be replicated in the construction industry and correct the impression that local companies are incompetent, mismanage funds collected for projects and are unable to buy construction equipment required to execute most heavy construction and engineering projects.

According to the Secretary of the National Planning Commission, the Federal Government took a bold step in this direction when the Minister of Works, Architect Mike Onolememen announced in 2013 that all engineering and construction projects below N5bn will be handled by Nigerian contractors who possess requisite capacity.

“This was intended to reverse the domination of Nigerian engineering and construction industry by expatriates in the industry,” he said.

He also added that “a President declaration was made to give jobs to local manufacturers and contractors even if their quotations are 10 to 15 per cent higher than those of expatriates.”

Ugbo further explained that the Local Content Bill in the Construction Industry modelled after the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act was awaiting passage by the National Assembly and will boost employment opportunities and promote local trade in building materials as well as ensure that the nation’s architects, engineers and other professionals in the industry are effectively utilised.

The Secretary charged members of the National Assembly to ensure quick passage of the bill and canvassed that foreign goods be discouraged in the industry through the application of appropriate fiscal measures.

The Ministry of Communications Technology and the Ministry of Power had in the past weeks made strident moves to adopt local content models in the operations of their sectors.

Remarkably, the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson set up the Office of National Content (ONC) within the National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) with a mandate to template guidelines and policies put in place by the NCDMB for the ICT sector.

The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo also convened a Power Sector Local Content Policy Framework Development Workshop, where he promised to ensure that ongoing transformation in the sector and massive investments by governments and private sector entities are steered to develop the local supply chain and encourage manufacturing.

At the workshop, Nebo commended the Ministry of Petroleum Resources led by Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for the achievements recorded with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act in the past four years. He stated that the power sector would be looking to adapt the policies and guidelines put in place by NCDMB in the oil and gas sector, adding, “we do not need to reinvent the wheel in the power sector.”

Speaking recently, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke commended NCDMB for the achievements it had recorded within its four years of existence and underscored the adoption of the Nigerian Content philosophy by other sectors of the economy as further proof that the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act has been effective.

She said, “the fact that Nigerian Content policies are about to be deployed in various parts of the economy and ministries as well want to copy and learn from the Ministry of Petroleum is one of the things we can be actually proud of. It is one of the strengths of the oil and gas sector in the President Jonathan’s administration and we are very pleased with it.”

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