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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE COREN 25TH ENGINEERING ASSEMBLY HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CULTURE AND EVENTS CENTRE (THE DOME), AKURE, ONDO STATE.

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE COREN 25TH ENGINEERING ASSEMBLY HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CULTURE AND EVENTS CENTRE (THE DOME), AKURE, ONDO STATE

THEME: Embracing the Future: Improving the Quality of Engineering Education and Practice in Nigeria.

PREAMBLE
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) held its 25th Engineering Assembly at the International Culture and Events Centre (THE DOME), Akure, Ondo State from Monday 8thto Wednesday 10th August, 2016. To situate the discourse within an appropriate body of knowledge and practice, the theme adopted for the Assembly, was “Embracing the Future: Improving the Quality of Engineering Education and Practice in Nigeria”.

The Special Guest of Honour invited for the Opening Ceremony was His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, (FNSE), President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, ably represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir David Lawal, FNSE. The Host wasthe Governor of Ondo State,His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko, CON, (FNSE). The opening ceremony was chaired by His Excellency, Engr. David Umahi, FNSE, the Governor of Ebonyi State who was represented by his Deputy, His Excellency, Barr.Eric Kelechi Igwe. The Keynote Address, titled “Looking Inward on Quality Engineering Education in Nigeria” was presented by Engr. Umar Buba Bindir, PhD, FNSE, a Public Analyst and the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government.

Goodwill messages were delivered by:
i. The Honourable Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, FNSE.
ii. The Host, the Executive Govenor of Ondo State, His ExcellencyDr. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko, CON, (FNSE).
iii. His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, (FNSE), President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, ably represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir David Lawal, FNSE.

The Sub-Theme papers presented were:
• “Engineering Training for Development in a Globalized World – Purpose, Plan, People” by Prof. Kunle Oloyede.

• “The Petroleum Industry, Gas and Power Supply In Nigeria” by Engr. Olufemi Dosunmu, FNSE.

• “Youth Unemployment and Empowerment” By Prof. Akii Ibhadode, FAS.

• “Adapting Petroleum Refinery Technology for National Development:  The Ahmadu Bello University Efforts” by Engr. Prof. I. A. Mohammed-Dabo.

• “Effective Engineering Education and Practice for Sustainable Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria” by Engr. Dr. Okopi Alex Momoh, FNSE.

• “Sustainable Development of Water Supply in Nigeria” by Engr. Dr. (Mrs.) Benedicta U. Dike, MNSE.

• “Curriculum and Manpower Challenges for Effective Craftsmen Practice in Nigeria” by Engr. Umar Usman Maikunkele.

• “Embracing the Future: Improving the Quality of Engineering Education and Practice in Nigeria – The Role of Technical Education in Nigeria’s Growth” by Engr. Prof. Simon V. Irtwange, FNSE.

The 25th Engineering Assembly was well organised and held successfully. There were also syndicate meetings of Professional Associations and other Stakeholders, otherwise called the Engineering Family Forum. The Assembly was attended by two thousand, eight hundred and seventy-two (2,872) participants which comprises 2,511 engineers, 181 technologists, 121 technicians and 63 craftsmen.In attendance also were other invited guests and stakeholders from all walks of life.

The annual Engineering Assembly continues to be the biggest gathering of engineering professionals aimed at evaluating and discussing issues of interest to members of the engineering family and the nation at large.

OBSERVATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS:

At the end of the 25th Engineering Assembly the following observations/recommendations were made:

1. The Assembly noted that engineering processes are continously evolving, and would require requisite training and practice inflection to keep abreast . To this effect, the laudable Supervised Industrial Training Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE) programme developed by COREN and approved by the Federal Executive Council in 1990 which was put in place  to give hands-on experience to fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics is yet to take -off due to paucity of funds.

The Assemby recommends that the Federal Government provides the take-off funds earmarked to drive the well lauded SITSIE programme, and the direct inclusion of an affirmative action clause in a revised Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) Act, with a threshold of N2.5 billion for a start. Furthermore, the Assembly noted that the funding of the SITSIE could also be accomodated in Special Intervention Project designed for 500,000 graduate and 100,000 non-graduate jobs targeted to train unemployed graduates as teachers, and non-graduates as artisan under the N-Power programme.

2. The Assembly noted with delight the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war which has led to the recovery of illicit funds. The Assembly however, recommends that the Government invests the funds in critical infrastructure projects in order to reflate the economy.

3. The Assembly commends the Federal Government on the commissioning of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track and the flagging off of the Abuja- Kaduna Train services.

The Assembly observed that this rail project, which was initiated by the previous administration, but completed and commissioned by the present administration, is in line with the Assembly’s craving for the restoration of a vibrant rail transportation system in Nigeria. The Assembly also urges the Government to pursue with vigour the rehabilitation and construction of other rail lines in the country in line with the 25-year Strategic Railway Master Plan.

4. The Assembly observed the growing interest in small and medium–scale enterprises (SMEs) and noted that development-orientated contemporary engineering (DOCE), is a driver of the economic prosperity of nations of South East Asia.

It recommends that the shared global experiences should be critically evaluated to identify successful approaches, and review the effectiveness of existing institutional framework and policies of SMEs with the aim of developing more effective and productive guidelines for value hands-on and experimental learning at levels of design, manufacturing and condition monitoring that are adaptable to our local environment.

5. The Assembly was irked by the continued dependence of Nigerian Tertiary Institutions on government for funding and subvention to run their academic and research activities.

Toward this end, the Assembly wishes to encourage Nigerian Tertiary Institutions to open up income generating streams, such as: the commercialization and patenting of their technological innovations, the establishment of on-campus entrepreneurial activities, exploit opportunities of the Private-Public-Partnership Programmes (PPP), embark on industrial training programmes and facilitation of specialized courses and the commercialization of Engineering workshops and laboratories to generate funds by the Institutions to support their academic and research programmes.

6. The Assembly recognizes the role of technical educationin human capital development, and in the performance of a nation’s economy through employment and wealth creation, increased pace of technological innovations, enhancement of living standard, and promotion of social stability.

It recommends that Government should overhaul the technical and engineering education curriculum, to reposition the nation’s institutions for enhanced human capacity development to accelerate the pace of economic development of the nation.

7. The Assembly observed that many undocumented and uncertified artisans trained under various apprenticeship systems in Nigeria are swelling-up the ranks of wasted and under-utilized economic resources, and their unregulated practice and services constitutes a threat to life and property.

The Assembly is calling for a well-coordinated national apprenticeship programme in Nigeria in line with global trends in education, training, re-training, and development. Hence, the certification and registration of Artisans by COREN is hereby recommended. Furthermore, Government at all levels should also endeavour to implement vocational and technical educational programmes that will enable trainees to interface effectively with certified practicing Artisans, Craftsmen and Technicians to develop the requisite technical knowledge, skill-sets and competences to drive the nation’s economic and technological development. The absence of this has led to the influx of and preference for expatriate Technicians and Artisans.

8. The Assembly also noted that the level of development of a nation is directly linked to the state of her infrastructure prominent amongst which is power. Based on the economic and environmental advantages inherent in the use of gas for power generation, it recommends that radical steps should be taken to ensure that the issues affecting gas supply which is the major challenge limiting its use be addressed. This can be achieved by ensuring full implementation of the Gas Master Plan.




9. The Assembly has also identified the high cost of maintenance and equipment obsolescence as the two major factors responsible for the under-capacity utilization of the state- owned refineries.

The Government is hereby urged to promote the domestication of oil-refining technology by encouraging research and development of modular and mini-refineries to ameliorate the continuous shortage of petroleum products. Furthermore, the Assembly wishes to encourage the replication of ABU, Zaria research efforts on the construction of a mini-refinery. This initiative should also be extended to surmount other engineering challenges in Nigeria.

10. The attention of the Assembly was also drawn to the activities of illegal refineries operators in the oil producing region, and the associated consequences to the national economy, and the hazards to human lives and the environment.

Government is hereby urged to provide an appropriate regulatory and technical framework for engaging local modular refinery operators for the purpose of curbing illegal refining, employment creation, promotion of operational safety, and environmental health and conservation.

11. The Assembly observed that despite several efforts of Government, and external support from donor agencies,the water supply situation still remains precarious, and the public sector has not been successful in meeting the water and sanitation needs of residential and commercial users in Nigeria.This is due to increased human population density, high rate of urbanization, relatively higher pace of industrialization, dilapidated facilities, rise in water maintenance costs and droughts.

The Assembly, having noted that the management of water resources is said to be ineffective as a result of inadequate and inequitable distribution of adequate surface and groundwater supplies, it therefore recommends that: Government should as a matter of priority increase the funding for skilled manpower training, provision of municipal and rural water infrastructure, effective planning and management of water distribution strategies.

12. The Assembly also expressed its concern over the fast dwindling water resources in the Lake Chad, and noted that it could be a causative factor for the security challenges bedeviling the North-east Region, as over 30 million people depend on the Lake Chad for their source of livelihood.

The Assembly recommends that expedited action should be taken by the Federal Government, in bilateral understanding and cooperation with other member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, to recharge the fast shrinking Lake, to facilitate the restoration of peace, and economic prosperity in the region.

Furthermore, the attention of the Assembly was drawn to the existence of a multi-purpose dam in Owena, Ondo State which is currently underutilized. The Assembly hereby calls on the Governments of Ondo and Ekiti States to synergize and leverage on the existence of this facility for maximum utilization.

13. The issue of the need for review of the COREN Act was brought to the fore and exhaustively discussed at the Engineering Family Forum.

A Committee has been set up by COREN. All stakeholders were urged to send in their input or memorandum to the Committee.

14 The Assembly receives with glee the information of the admittance of COREN into the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP) – a body comprising of 48 economic countries of Asia and the Pacific. In the realization of this opportunity, a high-level policy forum jointly organized by COREN and UNESCO in Abuja to forge intra and inter regional cooperation for engineering accreditation and mobility of certified engineering personnel within Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

The Assembly commended the leadership of COREN for their spirited effort toward the promotion of engineering practice without borders.

In conclusion, the participants commended the efforts of COREN for organizing this thought-provoking Assembly.

COREN

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