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National welding policy

The attention of the welding and fabrication industry in Nigeria, comprising experts in welding and professionals in manufacturing, industry practitioners, reputable trade associations, and administrators, most of whom are individual and corporate members of the Nigerian Institute of Welding (NIW), including some members of the Board of Trustees of NIW, has been drawn to a publication on the Vanguard Newspapers of 16th December 2023, titled “facts and fictions on the national welding policy” posted by one Adekunle Adekoya in which the author queried the objections raised by these persons and institutions to the so-called National Welding Policy.

Under the free association of people of common interest as National Stakeholders in Welding, we wish to bring clarity to the events leading to and culminating in the ‘so-called’ National Welding Policy that was to be launched on 4th December 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation – FMSTI.

This is for the benefit of offering more insights to the writer, who obviously does not have all the facts, hence he believes there were some fiction and personal interest motivating the rejection of the Policy by the industry and concerned stakeholders, after years of hard work have been put into it.

This is also to give the public in general and the Ministry of Science in particular a detailed summary of the underhanded and personal motivations of a single individual to further his strangle-hold grip on a national organization that has crippled the practice and progress of welding in Nigeria for the past 20 years, despite the support and funding given to the Institute by some of these stakeholders.

These pieces of information will address the person behind the jaded policy, the erroneous process adopted by him to deceive the Ministry and also the attempt to deceive the Standards Organization Of Nigeria (SON), which failed, and what the actual contents of the policy were designed to achieve for the individual at the expense of national interest and economic growth that would be engendered by a properly articulated national welding policy. These are needed in the hope that they would foster a much-needed critical review of a very important policy document, which if designed right will form the catalyst for the nation’s industrialization. Our clarifications are as follows:

The Person

The person who steered the development of the policy is none other than the erstwhile President of NIW, Dr. Solomon Edebiri, who had hijacked the leadership of the NIW for 16 years, after manipulating a 3-year tenure as President for a near-permanent emperor position until he was removed from office by a unanimous decision of members of the NIW, including members of the Board of Trustees of NIW and other stakeholders who have gotten fed up with the manipulations of the ex-President, and had not heeded advice to conduct an AGM and hand over as required by the Constitution. He and his cohorts, at the time of the development of the Policy, were no longer representatives of the institute and so were working for their own personal interests as always. There are documented evidences of correspondence to the Ministry in which this information was communicated to the Ministry, but ironically, these correspondences were discovered never to have been brought to the notice of the then Minister and even the current Minister.

In a letter dated 9th November 2022, the decisions of a general assembly meeting of members and stakeholders in welding held on the 8th of November 2022 was conveyed to the Ministry. The letter dated 9th November had the following appendices: minutes of the meeting of the general assembly and stakeholders in welding, attendance list, and communique from the meeting. The communique contained a consensus decision by the general assembly dissolving both the Board of Trustees and the executive Board of the Nigerian Institute of Welding (NIW). This decision was also endorsed by members of the Board of Trustees of the Institute.

Reasons for the dissolution of the erstwhile board include gross ineptitude, financial mismanagement, illegal extension of tenures for up to 16 years as against constitutional requirements of 4 years through the manipulation of the constitution, forgery of signatures of NIW Board Members, illegally filing a criminally doctored constitution at CAC against constitutional requirements, illegal implementation of a constitution yet to be approved by members of the association, etc.

In another letter dated 30th of November 2022, an invitation was extended to the Ministry like every other stakeholder to witness the ratification of details of the communique. At the meeting of the 30th November, details of accusations and decisions by the general assembly were further reviewed and ratified by the general assembly with stakeholders again in attendance. The Ministry of Science and Technology did not acknowledge the invitation and did not attend the meeting.

There is therefore absolutely no documented evidence of any assembly of NIW members in the last 3 years where this so-called policy was discussed, the content reviewed and or contributions made before it was pushed to the Ministry.

The Process

It is also on record that when stakeholders and the industry discovered such a Policy was being sponsored without their input, individuals, corporate bodies, and even trade associations reacted to the process and content, and some wrote to the ministry when a copy of the Policy was leaked to them and was reviewed. Such Bodies as Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN) in a letter dated 5th April 2022, wrote formally to the Ministry with their observations on the process and content of the policy. Association of Non-Destructive Testing Practitioners (ANTEP), Nigerian Corrosion Association (NICA) on different occasions also did express concern about details of the policy as being more retrogressive than progressive.

These lodged complaints, along with the NIW letters on different dates, were transmitted almost two years ago, i.e., at the inception of the policy. These communications never saw the light of day nor were considered in the process of developing and proposing this policy to the government.

Apart from these stakeholders above, it is also on record that there was a deliberate ploy to avoid the involvement of all critical stakeholders such as PTDF, manufacturers, etc., and a long list of highly experienced experts in the NIW fold from where the policy is supposedly generated from and who should ordinarily be part of such an important national policy.

The Policy Contents

The author of the publication mentioned above, apart from reeling off the table of contents, did not do an analysis of the content of the policy as he may not be privy to it. Who are the actual beneficiaries of the policy, the implementation strategies, and implementation personae? To what overall effect and impact are the actual policy content?

The policy, from expert opinions of welding professionals and end-user bodies, has nothing in it designed to actually promote welding practice but simply to empower an individual through a body he had hijacked by giving unprecedented power to the individual to control the entire manufacturing industry in Nigeria and collect all forms of illegal dues for him and his cronies to share. This was designed to create more wealth to be stolen and unquestionably kill creativity, competitiveness, and accountability in welding and welding technologies in Nigeria. These are the very issues that this illegal representative has been accused of and compelled to step down and so this Policy was aimed at furthering this corruption.

The writer mentioned Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) as being part of the process of producing the so-called policy, but that is contrary to the truth. When the policy was presented to SON for endorsement and ratification, SON fortunately had direct access to industry and manufacturing practitioners and so reached out to concerned stakeholders, and the feedback they got made them jettison the flawed policy till date. Evidences of communications between SON and relevant stakeholders on this policy are available and verifiable.

The writer has therefore, in serious error or ignorance of the facts, advised that due to the time that has been put into the policy, despite the timely opinions raised against the persons, process, and contents of the policy, a flawed policy should be allowed to stand. Doing so would be tantamount to the future of welding in Nigeria being destroyed because a grave deception has been given some semblance of officialdom.

Conclusion

The people, process, and content of the policy DO NOT exhibit public representation, due process, legality, and legitimacy. Contrary to the author’s conclusion that there was no objection while the process was ongoing for the last two years, the reference to dated letters does clear the air that concerns were raised and willingness to join the effort in correcting errors communicated.

Stakeholders are well-informed to understand that the policy would harm rather than heal an already ailing industry. The clear criticism and rejection of the people, process, and content of the national policy by NIW members constitute undeniable evidence that a serious error was made and requires urgent rectification.

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