The Minister of Science and technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu says National Policy on Welding and its related fields will promote and enhance local content and drive rapid industrialization of the country. The Minister stated this on Wednesday while inaugurating the Committees on National Policy on Welding and its Related Fields as well as the National Status Survey on Welding and Related Fields in Abuja.
Dr. Onu said the inauguration of the Committees was very important at this time that many of our youths are unemployed, saying that government is working hard to come up with the Welding policy that will ensure that all young Nigerians willing to work can find good quality work to do.
He said the policy is aimed at strengthening local content, keep Nigerian jobs for Nigerians, reduce capital flight arising from the importation of skilled manpower. ‘‘When we look at welding, it is easy for us to forget that we cannot build locomotive wagons, boats, ships, submarines, gas pipelines, airplanes, space crafts, tractors and fire-fighting trucks.
‘‘For too long, we relied on foreigners to do all this for us. We are paying the price for this, as the level of unemployment has continued to grow. We must work together as a nation to ensure that all these things that we are currently import into the country will in the future be manufactured and produced locally in Nigeria.’’
‘‘It is in furtherance of government intention to strengthen local content practice in engineering, especially in the specialized area of welding and fabrication, that the FMST is collaborating with the NIW. The Federal government had in 2018 during the national Council on Science and technology approved the establishment of the National Welding Capacity Development Plan for the Nigerian Institute of Welding.
‘‘The federal government of Nigeria recognizes the importance of welding in the nation’s economic development. Hence, in order to strengthen the sector, National Skills Qualification Framework was approved in 2014. This was designed to create a career path for persons willing to acquire necessary skills in welding.
‘‘As a result of this, in addition to the desire of government to promote rapid industrialization, serious efforts are on-going to revive the steel industry in the country, because of the vital role steel plays in both welding activities and overall economic development.
‘‘Through the Nigerian Content Act, the Federal Government has made efforts to ensure that Nigerians participate actively in all sectors of the economy, particularly the oil and gas sector.
‘‘This is in agreement with the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in Contracts, science, engineering and technology signed by Mr. President in 2018. This occasion is important for economic development of our dear nation, as welding will promote and enhance local content in the realization of our national goal of rapid industrialization.
Earlier in his address, the President, Nigerian Institute of Welding, Dr. Solomon Iyobosa said the inauguration of the Committees marked the attainment of a significant milestone in continuation of our march towards Economic independence and sustainable industrial revolution. He said welding plays a unique role in industrialization of a any nation as it remains the best option for joining materials together whether similar or dissimilar, which are critical in the industrialization of an economy.
Iyobosa said the influx of foreign welding personnel into Nigeria over the last decades, especially in the oil and gas industry has become worrisome, but expressed hope that the expected welding policy would encourage the use of local welding personnel and also put to an end the emphasis placed on International Certification by certain sectors of the economy.
He also called for immediate implementation of the Presidential Executive Order No.5, as it has the provisions to check the influx of foreign personnel and the dependence on foreign certification. Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the Chairman of the Ministerial drafting Committee, Prof. Okechukwu Ukwuoma, said the inauguration of the Committee was a fulfillment of Minister’s promise to reposition the welding sector.
While accepting the challenge, Ukwuoma said there was need to enhance welding capacity as a vital tool in economic development, as it has a potential of growing Nigeria’s GDP by $8-10 billion annually. He however, promised that the report would be ready within the stipulated time. Some of the terms of reference given to the committee include: to provide an overview of welding activities and Code of how to go about it and procedures; provide general guidance as well as serve as quality control and quality assurance tool; examine and provide guidelines and procedure necessary to guarantee safe working environment as to mitigate project failures; to develop state of the art guidelines for training, qualification and certification of welding personnel in Nigeria; proffer meaningful suggestion on how to utilize global resources in production of welding equipment and materials through adapting rivers engineering as well as robust invention and innovation strategies; examine the existing legal framework pertaining welding work in Nigeria with the intent of influx of foreign expertise as against the provision of Presidential Executive Order No. 5: Technology Transfer and contracting and to consider any other area that is considered to be relevant to the development of welding and its related field. The committee has three months to submit its reports.