By Michael Eboh
Managing Director, Mudiame International Limited, Mr. Sunny Eromosele, has stated that Nigeria spends $10 billion annually to hire certified welders into the country.
In a statement sent to Vanguard, Eromosele warned that Nigeria’s current economic situation and unemployment crisis could worsen if the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and other stakeholders fail to focus on deepening local content in the country.
He stated that though President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the Executive Order Five, to reverse job losses to expatriates and boost economic activities, Nigeria still spends over $10 billion yearly to hire certified welders into the country. Eromosele, who was speaking on the National Welding Capacity Development Plan in Abuja, stated that the country lacked the strategy necessary for implementing the Executive Order Five recently signed by the Presidency. He noted that the current skills gap had resulted in the influx of foreigners into the country such that the current railway projects and the ongoing Dangote Refinery are being handled by over 90 per cent Indians and Chinese. He called on MAN and other stakeholders to pressure the Federal Government to set up proper implementation mechanism for Executive Order Five, especially in the areas of strengthening institutions and where critical sectors of the economy was being overlooked.
He described as unfortunate, the fact that international communities force their standards on Nigeria in the event of project execution in the country. He said: “That will not allow our Nigerian personnel to participate in project like the ongoing rail construction and Dangote Refinery Construction. About 90 per cent of the people working on these projects are Chinese and Indians,” Eromosele decried the idea of personnel certification system run by most International Oil Companies, IOC. He said: “We need the harmonisation of our personnel’s qualification so that the ideas of personnel certification system by some companies like Saipem, Chevron and others will be eradicated.
“Role of stakeholders must also be harmonised so that the Nigerian stakeholders will have common goals and role to play on all project executed depending on their areas of specialisation.” He noted that while the executive order aimed at increasing domestic production of goods and services and creating jobs in science, technology and engineering on one hand, the order equally prohibits issuing of visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. To this end, Eromosele urged Buhari and the NCDMB being led by Simbi Wabote, to channel efforts towards developing a key sector like welding.
“Welding is vital to national economy and part of our society’s infrastructure; it ranks high among industrial processes and involves more sciences and variables than those involved in any other industrial process. “As a stakeholder and promoter of welding activities and practices in country, there is a lot of challenges that are faced by welding industries and welding practitioners in Nigeria, among such challenges to mention are few which include, political interference by the international communities and lack of development of Nigeria national standards.”