Nigerian engineers have themselves to blame for the federal government’s preference for foreign contractors, the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has said.
The minister said Nigerian engineers created the vacuum that led to foreign contractors being the preferred choice for most projects in the country.
Speaking Tuesday when a delegation of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) led by its President, Otis Anyaeji paid him a courtesy visit at his office in Abuja, Fashola noted that the failure of Nigerian engineering firms to bid for government projects was responsible for the patronage of foreign contractors.
“If there was no vacuum, there would not be foreign engineering consultants and contractors in Nigeria.
“Unless we honestly stand up and accept that there is a vacuum, we look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we honestly do not like what we see, it will not change.
“I can tell you from experience when I was a state governor, that when I advertised for rail project, no Nigerian firm bidded for it”.
“Government will not stop the development of the country if you are not ready”, the minister asserted.
According to him, while we point a finger at government, we must also point the same fingers at ourselves because foreign companies doing business in Nigeria are privately owned.
Mr. Fashola, therefore, advised Nigerian engineers to accept their deficiencies and build their capacities to be able to compete with foreign firms.
Meanwhile, the minister decried what he called the over legislation of procurement process and called for a review, to enhance the speedy development of infrastructure in the country.
“In a developing economy like Nigeria, I think that we have over-legislated our procurement process.
“Some of the fast-track procurement systems that we need, given also our weather circle, are still in the way of project intervention to deliver infrastructure.
“Let us do a review and see what we have delivered and look back at 20 years ago when all these procurement laws were not there what we achieved and measure them.
“I think that in my personal view, we have over-legislated procurement process to our detriment”, he added.
In his remark, Anyaeji called for the patronage of local engineers and the use of indigenous materials for the execution of government projects.
He pledged the commitment of the society to partner the Federal Government to deliver on its mandate to Nigerians.