Extend Local Content Act to construction industry, says Institute

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Mr Ayuba Akere, the Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Lagos Chapter, has called for an extension of the Local Content Act to the building and construction industry.

Akere told source in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, on Monday that the extension was necessary in order to check domination of the sector by foreigners.

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 signed an executive order on local content to ensure that jobs that can be undertaken by indigenous professionals are not given out to their foreign counterparts.

Buhari had advised indigenous professionals in the building and construction sector to initiate reforms to ensure that Nigerians occupy the commanding heights in the industry.

Akere said that the construction industry could be a key driver of the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme, if the prevailing dominance of the industry by international companies would be reversed.

“Greater percentage of construction works in the country are being executed by foreign contractors, while in some cases, Nigerians are only involved at the lower level of execution,’’  he claimed.

According to him, Nigerians are mere executioners in the construction industry, unlike in other professions such as law and medicine, where Nigerians play major roles.

Akere said that there was the need to encourage indigenous participation in construction, adding that the industry was a key enabler of ancillary services such as financial services, education, hospitality and real estate.

He urged that the construction industry should comply with the Local Content Act, which had been applied in the oil and gas industry:

“The achievements in the oil and gas industry make it imperative that the Nigerian Act needs to be extended to other key sectors of the economy.

“The act stipulates that a certain percentage of contracts in the oil and gas industry should be reserved for Nigerians; if this can be done in the construction industry, it will improve the sector.”

The NIQS chairman said that corruption was the bane of the industry which, according to him, should be the catalyst of national development.

Akere advised that operators should come together to salvage the industry and collectively move it forward.

“There is corruption in every facet of the construction industry in Nigeria, from contract award stage to implementation and maintenance,’’  he said.

He claimed that the worst side of the corruption was the award of contracts to non-indigenes, saying that it could continue to retard the nation’s economy if indigenous players in the industry failed to collaborate.

According to him, the industry’s set objectives can only be achieved through active collaboration by well-meaning players in the industry.

He, therefore, canvassed for a legislation that would promote deliberate utilisation of local human and material resources, goods and services in the Nigeria building and construction sector.

Amaka E. Nliam