I believe that when the country voted for change, the populace mean a strong desire for high quality of life offered from self-sufficiency of food, local production of goods and services we need, and adequate and reliable infrastructure. In other words the country has beckoned on engineering in a clear and direct manner.
At the time our Founding President, Engr. Geoffrey Aiwerioba FNSE took this oath some fifty seven years ago in London, the means of coming to Nigeria from there was by MV Auriel floating for a fortnight on the Atlantic. And telecommunication was by cablegram. Today, some of us in this hall might have slept in Europe last night, and woken up in Abuja this morning, and might be planning to reverse the process by sleeping in Abuja this night and waking up in Europe tomorrow morning. Mobile telephony, and internet have held every one hostage to instant communication anytime anywhere. In between these eras there have been twenty eight other great engineers who had taken this same oath, and who collectively laboured to bring the profession and the Society to the enviable stature we enjoy in the comity of engineering professional associations. I salute them all especially Engr. Ademola Isaac Olorunfemi FNSE my immediate predecessor. I also would like to recognise some of them that are present here,
|Engr Otis and othe Past President cutting the Investiture cake|
He also said Engineers held the key to the future of humanity and its ability to continue to thrive on the planet.
According to him, “the whole of our infrastructure, from sewers to power supplies and communications, anything that wasn’t invented by God is invented by an Engineer.”
The Prince said Engineers can play a key role in helping to solve the problems caused by the increase in the world’s population.
He said: “The human population of the world is growing and is occupying more space. It’s got to be accommodated somehow or another and I think most people would like to see that it accommodates a certain amount of the natural world as well as the human world and everything we require to keep it going.
“But somehow or other that balance, to try and fit as many people onto this globe as comfortably as possible without doing too much damage, I think ultimately it’s going to be engineers that decide that.”
The Duke, said his own interest in engineering began during the war, when he had to carry out basic engineering tasks as a young naval cadet.
But he said the realisation that engineers could play a central role in society came to him after the war, as he surveyed the damage inflicted on Britain by years of conflict.
He said: “It seemed to me that the thing that really needed encouragement was manufacturing, which was always dependent on engineering, to try and recover from the war. We were completely skint, seriously badly damaged. It seemed to me the only way we were going to recover a sort of viability was through engineering.”
One couldn’t agree more with the Duke. Indeed, Nigeria today, with the career of oil is completely skint, seriously badly damaged and the only way the country is going to recover a sort of viability is through engineering.
|Engr Otis along with Immediate Past President Engr Olorunfemi Isaac|
Engineering Education, Practice & Regulation are about the infusion of personnel with the appropriate body of knowledge in school, equipping him or her with the right skill sets hands-on in practice with the requisite laws and regulations in place to guide and protect the application of knowledge and skills to solve problems of humanity in ethical, safe, economic, healthy, and environmentally friendly manner. That’s basically it. Having said this much can be interpreted as having said it all. But I have good news for us all, and for Nigeria, from Engineering.
The value proposition of engineering to the country is greatly differentiated by the engineering method. Our revered departed Past President Engr. Foluseke Abidemi Somolu FNSE FAEng, elaborated on the Engineering Method in his 2006 October Lecture, but I will summarise the procedure as follows:
|NSE new executive council being sworn in my the President, Engr Otis|
Engineering is key to over 95% of the activities of the public sector of the economy, engineering infrastructure economics, engineering industrial economics, and engineering agricultural economics are critical for planning and managing an economy.
Engineering economy has good news for all those seeking for solutions to problems, especially if the problems have to do with selecting and appointing those to solve particular problems.
Industrial Engineering & Governance in Nigeria
Due to the fact that IE is concerned with the design, installation, improvement, evaluation, and control of socio-technical systems in virtually all sectors including government, health-care and even finance, I had requested two Industrial Engineers to compare and contrast the organisation of the US, and Nigeria’s government systems, on a preliminary basis. The findings were revealing. The comparison starts and ends with the fact that the two countries operate presidential system of government.
Quite startling are the contrasts. For starters the number and types of Ministries (called Departments) in the US government are fixed by law. Whereas, in Nigeria the number and types of Ministries are left to the discretion of the incumbent President.
The policy space of each Ministry (or Department) in the US is organised into a structure of defined policy elements that are populated with Secretaries (equivalent to Ministers in Nigeria), Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, and Assistant Secretaries (equivalent to minister of state, deputy ministers, junior ministers, minister for, minister in, parliamentary secretaries in the first to fourth republics in Nigeria). Currently there are no organisation structures for policy elements in the policy space of a Ministry in Nigeria, the latter being populated by Ministers and Permanent Secretaries (Civil Servants) with Ministers of State sometimes. Here the policy elements are neither identified, nor defined.
The United States operates 15No. Departments (or Ministries) while Nigeria has 26 Ministries (after downsizing).
The US uses 225 No. Secretaries/Deputy Secretaries/Under Secretaries/Assistant Secretaries (who have minister status, and are screened and cleared by the US Senate) to man the policy spaces of the US Departments or ‘Ministries’. Presently Nigeria uses 36 ministers to man the policy spaces of 26 No. ministries.
The policy domain of each Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary, and Assistant Secretary is clearly spelt out, and each is nominated by the President for that domain, and is then screened by the relevant committee of the US Senate. In doing this, the American system tries to strike a logical balance between technocrats, professionals, and politicians in nominating and appointing people to these 225 No. ministerial positions. Nigeria on the other hand since the 2nd Republic appoints mostly politicians in a manner that undermined the undefined policy spaces, and undermines development and growth of the country.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers using its Industrial & System Engineering Institute is in unique position to assist the various levels of government in Nigeria with analysis and design of governance policy structures, to achieve the right balance and adequate manning levels among professional, technocratic, and political classes at the highest policy levels.
Most people think in terms of consulting engineering as the only avenue of engineering practice in Nigeria. This is a distortion of the correct engineering practice situation, which ought to comprise in addition to consulting engineering the following areas:
Vendoring of machinery and equipment, and engineering materials
COREN is licensing firms in these areas, and Engineers and their partners are encouraged to establish enterprises that are focused on these practice areas.
The duties of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria include, “regulating and controlling the practice of the engineering profession in all its aspects and ramifications.”
There is thus the need to make regulations and keep refining them, in various areas of practice as highlighted earlier. The Nigerian Society of Engineers will take the issue of regulations seriously, and will draft regulations that will be submitted to COREN for adoption.
In respect of Sec 1(1)(b), and Sec. 9 dealing with accreditation of engineering training institutions, we shall collaborate with COREN to model activities under this head after the ABET (US) template,
Project Preparation & Financing
Investment and financial institutions including the African Development Bank have been complaining about the lack of capacity for Preparatory Studies on the part of Nigerian/African Consultants for Development Projects in Nigeria and Africa. We shall organise training courses on Project Preparation, and Feasibility Studies, in association with AfDB, and Bank of Industry.
In aid of the effort to use African finances to develop Africa, we shall continue the advocacy to get the Nigerian government to introduce a Policy-Based Finance System for the implementation of national strategic projects. Such a system can commence with a 20% savings on the Federation Account. Other components of this system include the NASENI Development Fund, Proceeds from Central Bank’s discount rates, Pension Funds, etc. From this government can provide loanable funds to the private sector on strategic projects, and SME’s development.
Diversification of the Nigerian economy is in the air. The Nigerian Society of Engineers will work with like-minded persons and bodies to get the government to appreciate that industrialisation drives both infrastructure and agriculture. Without attaining a critical level of in-country manufacturing, adequate and reliable infrastructure cannot be achieved, and profitable and sustainable mechanisation of agriculture with self sufficient agricultural process engineering will remain elusive.
We shall therefore continue to urge the government to go the way of industrialisation as the route to self-reliance, holding unto the motto: “Anything you must consume, you must produce.”
– Engineering Capacity Building
The Society will continue to support the Secretariat of the Federation of African Organisation of Engineers in Abuja, the Office of the Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) also now based in Abuja, and participate actively in the affairs of the West African Federation of Engineering Organisation (WAFEO).
Codes & Standards
NSE’s institutions and technical divisions have produced several codes and standards that have remained suppressed by the perspective that a code of practice, or product standard only becomes such after endorsement by SON and COREN.
While waiting for such endorsements, we intend to publish such codes and standards under the cover of NSE and the respective institutions/divisions as voluntary standards. As these codes and standards are the technical guidelines for promoting safety, reliability, productivity, and efficiency in engineering work, we shall continue to encourage our Institutions to make the development of codes and standards the foundation of their professional work.
The C&S Board will work with C&S committee of each Institution to ensure that development of codes and standards continues in a sustainable manner.
The country will keep needing engineers to promote development, reduce poverty, achieve solutions on climate change, mitigation and adaptions, and cope with natural disasters and other requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Different fields, types, and levels of engineering personnel e.g. civil, mechanical, electrical etc, technicians, technologists, craftsmen, would be required. These have implications on the education policy for engineering education at tertiary level, and for science education at secondary and primary schools. It is the responsibility of governments and professional engineering bodies around the world to determine on a planning basis the needs and numbers of engineers in a country. In 2008 South Africa set a target of producing up to 2500 Engineers per year, while Morocco in 2007 ushered in a plan to train 10,000 Engineers per annum. Malaysia stated in 2009 that the then 60,000 Engineers in that country would need to be increased to 200,000 by the year 2020.
In order to advise the Nigerian government accurately on the need and numbers of engineering personnel (i.e. Engineers, technologists, technicians and craftsmen), the Society will establish a Bureau for Engineering Manpower Planning in 2016. The mandate of the Bureau shall include engineering manpower survey, engineering manpower compensation survey, impact of technology trending on requirement for engineering personnel, maintenance of the Nigerian Engineering Manpower Inventory and Directories.
The CinC in presenting the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly on 22nd December, 2015 said inter alia,
“We engaged costing experts to scrutinise the 2016 budget proposals. They have already identified certain cost areas that can be centralised for economies to be made.”
While we commend the Federal Government of Nigeria for engaging costing experts, it must be noted that we are not aware that Cost Engineers were among such experts. We of course, would feel a lot better if our observation above is wrong.
It is our plan to get cost engineering play a leading role in the national budgeting process, in as much as we recognise the roles of cost accountants (historical costs), and quantity surveyors (building costs). Engineering projects account for more than 90% of capital costs and so Cost Engineers have more to contribute in aid of realistic capital costs and operating costs estimating on the national budget.
To complement the work of the Institute of Appraisers & Cost Engineers (a Division of Nigerian Society of Engineers), a Bureau for Cost Trends is to be established during the year, to maintain a cost database on engineering projects, and serve as resource to engineering valuation of existing assets.
In November 2015, the Society unveiled the maiden edition of the Nigerian Infrastructural Report Card resulting from assessment by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, carried out between October 2014 and October 2015. Work on the next edition due for release in 2017 would continue, while the institutionalisation of the Report Card would be pursued to realisation within the year.
On the basis of the 2015 Report the Society would produce an action plan for advocacy for appropriate funding for requisite improvements of various infrastructure, and promotion of some laws necessary to be enacted.
We also intend to elaborate the Report Card to States, and then Local Government Areas levels.
From our experience in the highly successful “Iron & Steel Workshop” that held in October 2015, we have realised that the technical, professional, and sectoral resource base of the Society is much more than can be fitted in one annual conference. Our plan is therefore to hold monthly conferences on different sectors of the economy. Earlier this week we held a conference on “Engineering Education, Practice & Regulation”. In February 2016, we plan to host a conference on “Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria – Engineering Perspectives”.
At the usual Annual Conference, key recommendations from the monthly conferences will again be funnelled into the communique.
With Nigeria’s population at over 170m and its land mass below 1m sq km, land is certainly scarce. In some parts of the country there is no land for the succeeding generation. Government ought to have started a deliberate plan for vertical city development. This will throw up urban engineering challenges for solutions for adequate housing, transportation, water supply, sanitation, electric power supply, telecommunications, environmental protection, using local resources. Nigerian Engineers would have to fashion out solutions that are more economical than those the developed world are accustomed to. Such solutions would include cheaper and quicker construction methods, material and environment-protection technologies, renewable energy, more flexible urban mobility solutions, and telecommunications systems that provide broadband interconnections that dispense with costly land links.
The Society will be avante gardist in the drive to get both parliaments and executive levels of government to adopt and promote vertical city development policies.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) led by Dr. Newton Jibunoh have a joint developmental programme to tame African Deserts: Nigerian Society of Engineers – Taming African Deserts (NSE-TAD). It is a massive programme comprising highways, tree corridors, water desalination plants, water pipelines and channels, solar power parks, wind power farms, supergrid transmission lines, substations and telecommunications systems.
The overall strategy of implementation hinges on local manufacturing of critical renewable energy, power transmission, telecommunications and hydraulic equipment.
The Federation of African Engineering Organisations, African Union, ECOWAS and the regional engineering organisations are facilitators for the realisation of this programme.
As diversification of the Nigerian economy is the lynchpin of the change mantra, engineering for economic sustainability will brace up for challenges with design of technologies and systems that can facilitate national, regional, and international trade, fostering technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Overcoming these challenges would lead to creation of many jobs, efficient use of resources, and protection of the environment. In addition to our voting for CHANGE, we are also voting for INDUSTRIALISATION as the agent of economic sustainability, and the means for providing the inputs required for social sustainability.
On the latter front our challenge will be with regards to designing systems that facilitate education, healthcare, and hospitality in the modern sense. We are talking of systems that will genuinely enhance the quality of life, banish our national poverty, and restore the dignity of man, as we were taught in Agbebi and other Colleges of Engineering.
As we strategise to re-engineer the Nigerian economy, every Engineer must make efforts to understand the science, engineering and design issues vital to a broad-based understanding of how national economies can go forward to a Post Paris Accord low emissions future, Sustainable Development Goal era, and still produce its needs for infrastructure, agriculture and commerce. This sounds like asking us to manufacture without manufacturing. But manufacture we must, with engineering delivering cost effective strategies, policies and designs to help achieve Nigeria’s quota in global emissions stabilization.
As usual with engineering through the ages, we shall overcome these developmental challenges not just by building on our intellectual and professional tradition, but even more by reacting against it, when progress or change point in that direction.
To face the challenges earlier mentioned, and other new and future fundamental engineering endeavours in the domains of materials, energy, information, biomedical engineering, globalisation, we must restructure engineering education to take a greater interdisciplinary thrust for sustainable development. Our Engineers need to understand the problems of human development and sustainability, and need to be able to positively affect them with their engineering knowledge. New entrants must be motivated with concern for the future, deliberately encouraged to interact with other professions, with political leaders, in conceiving, designing and implementing solutions.
We plan to challenge and dispel the wrong-headed perception that Engineers cannot participate in public policy. This will be backed up with advocacy for the revision of engineering education curriculum to emphasize the importance of public policy on the work of the Engineer. While assuring that technical content of our training programme is of the right quality and quantity, we must introduce elements that provide the tools that help Engineers to become entrepreneurial leaders in both business and politics.
Engineering impacts the health and vitality of a nation more than any other profession. Engineers play roles that transcend the realm of knowledge and technology. The convergence of engineering with public policy has been on the increase. All developed economies recognise that the business competitiveness, health and standard of living of a country are intimately dependent on Engineering.
Great appreciation for my teachers, Late Chief Philip Obiano (Holy Trinity Primary School Onitsha Water Side); Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Tagbo OON (Principal, Christ the King College, CKC, Onitsha), Engr. George Martins Onyegbuchelem (Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Nigeria Nsukka) for special care and encouragement.