Available evidence indicates that welding, as a profession, is pivotal to the nation’s economic development, especially in the construction, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors of the economy. The welding subsector has been identified as the bedrock for industrialization, as no sector can operate without utilising the inherent potentials of welding products.
Welding is the bedrock of engineering and the heartbeat of industrialisation and remains one of the highest employers of labour and the critical corner piece of the construction industry.
However, the sector has not been given the requisite attention and recognition over the years; hence the unprecedented influx of foreign welding personnel into the country, especially in the oil and gas and construction industry over the last decade.
To recognise the importance of the sector and accord it the desired recognition, it became imperative for the Federal Government to develop a mechanism to promote and regulate welding practices in Nigeria. The government’s insistence on good workmanship and the adoption of best practices in welding and related fields decided brought about the National Policy to strengthen the local capacity and capability in welding and related practices.
To give the country a National Welding Policy, the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation inaugurated a National Policy Drafting Committee on May 6, 2021, to fashion an inclusive National Policy on Welding and Welding Related Fields.
The ministry, through the Welding Policy Drafting Committee, completed the development of the National Welding Policy in 2022.
Stakeholders in the sector met yesterday (February 22) in Abuja to validate the draft document for onward presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for its final approval.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said a national policy on welding is needed urgently to promote and encourage the utilisation of local welding personnel in critical sectors of Nigeria’s economy.
“This will help the nation attain self-reliance in this vital sector of the economy. Even with many of our youths who are unemployed; yet, for too long, we relied on foreigners to provide the welding skills needed in the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction sectors of the economy. In 2014, the National Skills Qualification Framework was approved to strengthen the welding sector. This was designed to create a career path for persons willing to acquire necessary skills in welding and related fields. Hence, a national certification was issued by the Nigerian Institute of Welding.
“One of the visions of the recently revised National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NSTIP) is making Nigeria one of the leading scientific powers in the world. Achieving this will further deepen the knowledge economy by creating a strong and resilient industrial base. This way, the products of our research and development efforts will be easily commercialised,” he said.
The minister added that Nigeria will, therefore, be in the position to produce its needs locally, instead of importing them.
“To achieve this, we need to impart Nigerians with welding skills needed in manufacturing and construction, both on land and underwater. We have many of our unemployed young people, hence, we cannot afford to be offering jobs to expatriate when our people are looking for work to do. The welding techniques are sophisticated, particularly in the era where nanotechnology plays a critical role in many sectors of the economy,” he added.
Onu further promised the ministry will continue to support the Nigerian Institute of Welding in its effort to help Nigeria’s industrialisation.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi said the Draft National Welding Policy – the first of its kind for the country – is envisioned to enhance the performance of all the critical sectors of the economy and fast-track Nigeria’s industrialisation drive.
Also, he said the policy could tackle or eradicate poverty and create jobs and wealth.
Abdullahi further said the ministry and its agencies have in the recent past attained quite some substantial achievements in several areas of science, engineering and technology through the formulation and implementation of viable policies which were all produced with contributions from relevant stakeholders and partners, even as he sought for further cooperation for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council for its consideration and approval.
“This interaction is, therefore, aimed at building a firm foundation for our nation to have a robust and comprehensive National Welding Policy that will make Nigerians become globally competitive in this field. I believe [that] interested and concerned Nigerians keenly await the outcome of our interaction,” he added.
Giving an overview of the document, the director-general, National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Prof. Okechukwu Ukwuoma said the policy represents a declaration and commitment to the priorities, directions and practical support that Nigeria intends to provide for the promotion and regulation of welding practices in the country.
“The need for all-inclusive participation of the citizenry in the current economic, social and political reforms sweeping across the country, and to promote and ensure quality infrastructural developments involving welding activities is overwhelming. For this reason, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has drawn up the National Welding Policy. The development of the policy is, therefore, to provide a framework to giving a direction to codes, ethics, standards and quality observances in welding practices for all stakeholders in the country,” he said.
Represented by the president, Nigerian Institute of Welding, Dr. Solomon Edebiri, Ukwuoma described the policy as a “concrete and bold step to put the participation of all stakeholders, especially welding practitioners – including women – at the forefront of driving national development efforts of government by utilising welding and welding-related activities as catalysts in construction, manufacturing and production sectors of the economy”.