Shehu made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, saying local engineers could fare better if given adequate encouragement by the government
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“We have observed that there is no deliberate policy to protect indigenous companies or indigenous professionals in this country.
“We agree that some of these foreign companies may have more experience than the indigenous companies. You see, a journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step; if you do not start, you will never get there.
“And these people are better than the Nigerian companies because of the consistent patronage they have been enjoying over the years and, of course, they do not also enjoy this consistent patronage without the backing of their governments.
“There is no foreign company that comes like that into this country without the backing of its government.
“So, our own government also has to have a deliberate policy of developing indigenous companies to compete to become global companies; this is what is being done everywhere in the world.
“And there is no way we can have sustainable development if we do not have that policy or that attitude even if it is not a written down policy but it has to be attitudinal within the minds of our leadership,’’ he said.
Commenting on complaints that contracts awarded to indigenous firms were not executed up to standard, Shehu said that indigenous companies should be given specifications and properly supervised.
He said that any local firm that failed to deliver should be penalized but that should not stop the award of contracts to other indigenous firms.
“There has to be a consistent patronage for local companies to grow,’’ he said
Shehu expressed regret that access to fund was undermining the performance of indigenous companies, while their foreign competitors accessed funds easily.
He also listed other factors affecting the cost of engineering products, such as housing, to the high cost of land and construction materials as well as bureaucratic bottlenecks.
“There should be a deliberate policy to bring down the cost of land and the high interest rate in accessing funds from the banks.
“Even in securing development approval, sometimes it takes up to one year; we have a very high housing deficit and we need to fill it with the rate at which the population is growing,’’ he said.
Shehu said Nigerian engineers were as good as their counterparts in other parts of the world and should be given the chance to prove themselves.
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