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This was the view of the immediate past president of the Nigerian Association of Engineering Craftsmen (NAEC), Mr Yahaya Yakubu in a chat with Property and Environment last week.
He disclosed that it was a sad development for Nigeria, which, following its inability to meet the basic number of artisans and craftsmen needed for the normal day-to-day running of the industry, had now resorted to relying on artisans from some of the neighbouring countries such as Ghana and Togo.
“As we speak, we have an acute shortage of artisans and engineering craftsmen to the extent that we now depend on those from Ghana, Togo and some of the neighbouring West African countries,” said Mr Yakubu, who also added that the country needed to critically deal with the current situation because “artisans and craftsmen, though on a smaller scale, play a very vital role in the development of the nation’s economy. If we have more bricklayers, welders, builders, painters, carpenters, vulcanisers, and so on, the economy will improve.”
The ex-NAEC president further frowned at the way many youths had abandoned craftsmanship for day-to-day money making ventures, especially riding motorcycles, popularly known as okadas, saying youths should be encouraged to go back to training and apprenticeship. He insisted that many of the okada riders today were once into one form of artisanship or the other.
“It is time the government did something to revive the dying technical schools. There are about five technical schools in Lagos State, and yet I can confidently tell you that their student population is not up to 2,000.
“This is because many of our youth who should be undergoing one form of training or the other have now shunned the idea. They prefer to be riding motorcycles and making stipends. This is not helpful to the economy. For the economy to grow, its informal sector which includes artisans and craftsmen must not be neglected,” Mr Yakubu affirmed.
In the meantime, the veteran craftsman also argued that the perennial problem of poor electricity, which, according to him, accounts for about 60 per cent of the most important factor of production needed by artisans, must be solved.
He insisted that if the problem of electric power could be solved, many artisans and craftsmen who had closed shops, or who were on the verge of doing so, would be encouraged to come back.Share