President Muhammadu Buhari declared on Friday that he will train more Nigerians to replace thousands of foreign construction workers in the country who are doing jobs that could be handled by Nigerians.
Buhari directed the Federal Ministries of Works and Lands, Housing and Urban Development to “urgently prepare and present for approval and implementation, a plan of action for the speedy revitalisation and expansion of the nation’s vocational training centres”, spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Shehu said Buhari gave the directive “after being told at a meeting with the Board of Directors of a leading construction company in the country that because of a shortage of competent construction workers and artisans in the country, many construction companies were forced to bring in skilled workers from abroad.”
Buhari said the practice was “very detrimental to his administration’s commitment to boost employment opportunities for young Nigerians”, and vowed to move quickly to address the shortage of skilled construction workers in the country.
The President who demanded a report on the current status of existing vocational training centres established by the Federal Government, said his administration will take all necessary action to rapidly reposition them as efficient producers of skilled workers for Nigeria’s building and construction industry.
“President Buhari assured members of the Board of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc that his administration will act swiftly to ensure that the Building Craft Training School and Skill Improvement Centre in Lagos are fully revamped, staffed and equipped to produce more skilled electricians, brick and block layers, carpenters, painters, welders, fabricators, plumbers and other artisans,” Shehu said.
He said the President reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the proper education and training of Nigerian youth for the current demands of the labour market.
“The President said that the Federal Government will act expeditiously to remove all impediments to the fulfilment of its promise of more jobs for unemployed Nigerians,” the statement read.
“He also assured the Julius Berger Directors led by Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu that in spite of present funding challenges, the Federal Government will continue to do everything possible to settle genuine outstanding payments due to contractors.”
In listening to the President, it appeared as though it was just about skills. But many construction workers in many companies in Nigeria come from neighbouring countries where labour is cheaper.
Nigerian engineers prefer to employ them and cheat them, rather than employ more expensive Nigerian artisans.