John C. Maxwell once said: ‘’A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’’ It is against this background that one can view the signing of Executive Order 5, EO5, by President Muhammadu Buhari, a move that will herald a new dawn for the Nigerian economy.
The EO5 is aimed at boosting the domestic production of goods and services on one hand while creating jobs in science, technology and engineering in the country on the other.
The EO5 also prohibits the Ministry of Interior from issuing visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.
Barely nine months after directing all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to give preference to local manufacturers of goods and services in their procurement processes, President Buhari last week signed another EO aimed at steering the nation away from foreign dependence and relying on local content.
Aside emphasising preference for Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, the latest order is expected to also promote local content in the application of science, technology and innovation towards “achieving Nigeria’s developmental goals across all sectors of the nation’s economy.”
For sure, Nigeria is not reinventing the wheel as this is experienced in every country, which adopts a local content policy and strategies to grow its economy. And if implemented, there is no doubt that the nation will reap bountifully from the new measures. But the challenge has always been with the enforcement of our laws, which underline the import of the president activating his powers via the EO. Indeed, the order reinforces and broadens the Nigerian Local Content Law of 2010 in the oil and gas sector of the economy. It is noteworthy that some of the local oil firms are now big enough to run on their own steam with the technical know-how that allows them to buy assets in the oil and gas industry, become major players and manage their resources. Some of them are also into exploration and production as well as fabrication, engineering, and marine transportation.
However, by the time the MDAs begin to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and other related issues, as directed by the new order, the socio-economic impact on the nation will be all-embracing. Similarly, the new executive order, once enforced, will enhance increased participation of local indigenous firms in the science and engineering-related fields and increasingly build up their capacity in terms of manpower and infrastructure, all to the wellbeing of the nation.
Of particular significance is the inclusion in the EO that consideration shall only be given to a foreign professional, “where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.’’ This is the discretionary power that is at the heart of the problem. All over the country today, there are numerous “expatriates” from several countries who are no better than certificated illiterates, but were granted express entries and work permits by dubious and corrupt immigration officials, this old order is now history.
Therefore, all factors considered, if faithfully implemented, the EO will enhance increased participation of local firms in the economy, create more job openings and minimise capital flight. It will also serve as another conscious step by the government to protect an important segment of the society and empower them to pull out of poverty. We are optimistic that the MDA’s will enforce and implement the new order to the letter.
In retrospection, months after the President was sworn in May 2015, in an effort to boost local manufacturing, the Central Bank of Nigeria restricted access to foreign currency to import certain goods in a bid to stimulate local production and economic growth.
This birthed backward integration – Nigeria now has a pencil and toothpick factory which shall halt capital flight, create jobs and boost the economy.
As a matter of urgency, we should recall that on May 18, 2017, the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, signed three Executive Orders, to improve the budget process of the country, support the implementation of the local content policy in public procurement and promote an enabling environment for the ease of doing business in Nigeria and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country. These have increased confidence in the Nigerian economy, which is growing exponentially and impressively – this can be attested to by the fact that foreign exchange inflow into Nigeria hit $30.45 billion.
? Ayobami Akanji, a political strategist, wrote from Abuja Email: firstname.lastname@example.org