Engineers to FG: Convert federal varsities, polytechnics to research centres

Abia state University front view

The federal government has been charged to convert all federal universities and polytechnics to research and development centres to aid national growth.

“Our national development agenda should deliberately focus on harnessing our strengths in Science, Technology, and Innovation for national development by converting our national institutions – Universities & Polytechnics to research and development centres. This is what is obtainable in developed countries. Hence, our national institutions should transcend beyond just academic institutions.”

This is part of the communiqué issued at the end the National Infrastructure Summit (Abuja 2021) with Theme: Towards Sustainable Infrastructure Development, Maintenance & Management in Nigeria released recently in Abuja.

According to the report, government should as a priority, engage and work with the private sector and professionals to develop a realistic framework for sustainable infrastructure planning, development, maintenance and management.

“There should be an effective engagement and participation of stakeholders for public-private partnerships (PPP) contracts/projects to be successful.

“The government should show a higher level of accountability to its citizenry by publishing voluntarily to the public, all monies spent on projects which can be verified, reviewed or queried by the public. This serves to sensitize the public on what the government is doing or has achieved, either on the short term, mid-term or long-term basis.

“Governments should focus on a long-term infrastructure finance strategy and ensure implementation of the strategy

“The federal government should harmonise the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Act, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act and other applicable laws for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to be done effectively in the country.

“The National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) should work together to aid project financing and policy implementation that impact on project financing, as well as develop local capacity in feasibility studies needed to develop successful PPP contracts/projects.

“Government should work with industry experts and professionals to update regularly the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) which should be holistic, systemic, integrated, optimal, risk-based, systematic and sustainable for efficiency, effectiveness and the achievement of intended development outcomes, including a long-term vision and development of prototypes invented by Nigerians, adopting international standards.”

The communiqué jointly signed by Summit Coordinator Engr.  Ademola Isaac Olorunfemi, and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Dr. Okopi Alex Momoh, maintains that industry experts and professionals should be involved in the development of an infrastructure Result-Based Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Management framework and its implementation for skills acquisition and technology transfer, and the implementation of the NIIMP to track infrastructure performance and productivity.

“The federal, state and local governments should ensure that work-based and experience-based learning platforms are provided to Nigerians during infrastructure project planning, initiation, development, execution, operational, maintenance and management phases. This will not only enhance technology transfer, but will also foster ‘learning by doing’, opportunities that are not offered by the university system, even in the most advanced economies.

“A strategic national infrastructure critical skills development framework which shall ensure that the public procurement policies, regulations and processes make provision for enforceable critical skills development key performance indicators (KPIs) component akin to the local content policy should be developed and implemented.”