The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, at town halls with diaspora Nigerians in Washington DC, New York, Virginia and Miami, said the presidential directive was “a revolutionary executive order”.
Onu, at the town hall meetings, which witnessed large turnouts of Nigerians, explained that the intention is to re-direct the way Nigeria has been moving since its birth in 1914.
Buhari, in line with his constitutional powers, ordered that all “procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007”.
The Order, which aims to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components, also prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.
The minister described the presidential directive as “a revolutionary executive order” adding, “the intention is to re-direct the way Nigeria has been moving since its birth in 1914”.
According to him, the Federal Government knows that the largest concentration of Nigerian expertise is in America, adding, we should come here and tell you that we are creating the environment for you.
Onu said: “So this document is at the level where we are saying we have experts in the United States, in Europe, in China, everywhere. We need to engage them.
“We want them first to know this is what we are creating for our nation, and we are succeeding, and I will give you measurable reasons to show we are succeeding.
“Now it is for you to now help us by studying this document, we want something in writing to us, telling us your comments so that we can use these in the laws that would be made.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice is working closely with us to make sure that we now have a law that will ensure that this executive order will be implemented”.
He regretted that Nigeria had started building refinery in the 1960s but could still not do ordinary turnaround maintenance, saying, we would need to bring foreigners.
According to him, India and South Korea started where Nigeria started or even worse but had left Nigeria behind and were now becoming world powers through science and technology.
The minister, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria would still take its rightful place among the comity of nations with the right foundation being laid through the executive order.
“And let me tell you this, leadership of the world has been moving from country to country, from continent to continent.
“When it was in Egypt, Egypt led the world, the Romans led the world at their own time, Britain led the world at their own time. Now, it’s the United States.
“If it has been moving, don’t you think one day it would be the turn of Nigeria? Oh yes, it can be and we have to desire it, we have to plan for it,” he said.
He assured the diasporas that whatever role they want the government to play, it would play it because it believes that it is important for Nigeria to harness her true potential.
The minister said Nigeria must be able to do research and innovation and that to ensure that whatever the country is doing is industry-driven.
He said: “We must work with private sector to commercialise the research findings that we have, and then produce things so that the surplus can now be exported.
“And when we do that, we will have enough jobs for our people, we would be able to create wealth for our nation, fight poverty in our country. These are the intentions of the executive order”.
The Washington event, which held at the Nigerian Embassy, was attended by the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Justice Sylvanus Nsofor, while the Miami’s was attended by the representative of Nigeria’s Consul-General in Atlanta, Mr Innocent Iwejuo.
The New York event was attended by the Consul-General, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prf. Tijjani Bande and Deputy Permanent Representative, Amb. Samson Itegboje, among others. (NAN)