By Vin Anolu
A Professor of Civil and Geotechnical Engineering and former Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Port Harcourt – Samuel Uchechukwu Ejezie, has advocated the enactment of local content for the construction industry in the country.
This, he said would help curtail the influx of all shades of foreign practitioners in the nation’s construction industry and thus create more opportunities for the indigenous contractors.
Professor Ejezie who is currently serving as professorial Assessor for Universities in Sudan, Ghana and Nigeria, stated this in a lecture entitled “State of Infrastructure in Nigeria: An Embarrassment for local Content Advocacy in the construction industry” which he delivered at the 5th Edition of Engr. Emmanuel Iwuanyawu Annual lecture series in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
Despite the absence of such an Act for the construction sector, Ejezie – an external examiner for both undergraduate and post graduate programmes in different universities in the country and other African universities noted that the protagonists seem to have apparently succeeded even without government pronouncement.
He lamented that construction practice in the nation’s construction industry by Nigerians is so competitive that it has become an “all comers” affairs irrespective of educational and training background, professional affiliation or vocational calling.
The don noted that the proficiency and areas of specialization of construction contractors handling most of the small –medium sized construction projects all over the country are not readily discernible.
“There are no common parameters for their identification and many of them are manned by non-engineers as key staff. Whenever accosted by deploying unqualified manpower to site, their defence is usually anchored on the number of years they have been in construction practice and number of completed structures (still standing) to their credit”.
According to him, this group includes all those that can rightly be described as quacks in the construction industry but who are highly patronized by the indiscernible private developers because their services are relatively cheap.
Professor Ejezie – a graduate of the University of Ibadan who recently joined the federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa state as pioneer head of the new department of Civil Engineering extolled Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as one of the nation’s foremost indigenous players in the construction industry.
He advised governments to outlaw the practice of appointing non-engineers as ministers, commissioners, Directors General, Directors of Heads of engineering related ministries and units in government.
Among other players, Ejezie also insisted that Engineering contracts should strictly be awarded to companies owned and managed by Engineers, contending that an independent judicial organ composed predominantly of qualified and experienced senior Engineers should be instituted to work with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.