Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has commended the spirit and content of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order Five, which is aimed at enhancing rapid technological development of Nigeria.
Falana, who spoke today, Monday, at the on-going Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria’s (CORBON) congress in Abuja with the theme: “Standardization and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Construction Industry,” however wanted the implementation of the Order to be carried out by professionals for quick results.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in February, approved Executive order Five which mandates Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to give preference to local engineering companies in the award of contracts in the country.
The order is to grant priority to local companies on projects to the tune of 7.5 per cent, except in the absence of local engineers that could not execute the projects before international expertise could be deployed.
Falana explained that Executive order Five is part of efforts by the Federal Government to promote Science Technology Acquisition and innovation in the country and the sector is the base for development.
“Approving the order will boost the country’s economy and help the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Executive order 5 allows for monopoly in procurement processes among MDAs and if the order must work, we need an office in the presidency to evaluate and monitor its implementation.
“Nigerian registered companies are authorised to supervise contracts and projects in the country and there must be a decisive political action on the part of the government to make the executive order work.”
Falana said that professionals in the industry should pressurize state governments to adopt the executive order for the benefit of all citizens, adding that the Federal Government is not taking the right steps in the right direction for the implementation of the order but professionals in the sector can facilitate it.
Falana said that the country needed to properly harness its abundant human and natural resources to avoid relegating contracts and resources due to citizens to foreign expertise.
He added that harnessing human resources in the country, especially in the building industry required training and re-training of engineers to meet with the trends in the sector.
“Building professionals have not taken steps to check quackery and you find people running the industry being foreigners that are not registered under the law.
“In some situations, preference is given to unqualified foreign builders at the expense of our qualified local engineers. It is time registered builders take control of the building industry.”
The lawyer said however that the executive order cannot be a substitute to any act of the council or other professionals in the industry even as he pledged to assist the council and other professional bodies in the industry to pursue their acts enforcement.
Falana called on the council to ensure buildings in the country met with international standards as well as accommodate the plight of persons living with disabilities.
The Minister of State for Works, Land and Housing, Suleiman Zarma, said that the Federal Government is strategizing to liaise with the private sector to ensure best practices in the building industry.
“With the high demand of affordable houses by Nigerians and the need to curb the incessant collapse of buildings in the country, there is need to engage the private sector”, Zarma said.
Chairman of CORBON, Professor Kabir Bala, said that the congress would provide the platform for players in the industry to network and interface with investors for professionalism.
Bala said that they were collaborating with the Office of the Vice President through its National Social Investment Programme to train artisans in the country.
According to him, the training will position the beneficiaries for meaningful jobs and they will be certified by the council.