African Engineering Conference on Energy: The President's Pre-conference Press Briefing
The President of NSE, Engr. Otis Anyaeji, FNSE, FAEng, today held a Pre-Conference Press Briefing on the African Engineering Conference on Energy at the Press Centre of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretariat Uyo.
 
In attendance were some National Executive Committee of NSE, Conference Planning Committee & Uyo Branch Chairman. Others are the State Working Committee of NUJ Akwa Ibom Chapel, led by the State Chairman, Chapel Chairmen and Secretaries.
 
 
Below is the Address by the NSE President, Happy Reading…….
 
Address by the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers at the Pre-Conference Press Briefing on the African Engineering Conference on Energy, UNESCO African Engineering Week & Nigerian Society of Engineers Annual General Meeting (Uyo 2016) on Monday, November 21, 2016

 
Protocol     
 
Introduction
 
Gentlemen of the Press, I am pleased with this opportunity of an interactive session with you here in this beautiful city of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
 
The 2016 African  Engineering Conference on Energy, the Nigerian Society of Engineers Annual Conference, Exhibition, Annual General Meeting and UNESCO African Engineering Week which is tagged Land of Promise  2016  is the main subject of our interaction. The Conference, which theme is Adequate, Reliable and Sustainable Energy in Africa, will hold from today Monday, November 21 to Friday, November 25, 2016 at the Tropicana Conference Centre. Our Special Guest of honour is President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and our Chief Host is His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
 
Let me inform you here that we have effectively used our conferences over the years to sustain a tradition of setting agenda for government and other stakeholders towards engendering good governance, economic growth and technological advancement. This years conference proceedings will be marshaled against this backdrop. 
 
As a professional organization, members gather at our annual Engineering Conference to brainstorm on topical technical issues based on theme of the conference for the year.  This big event which coincides with our 49th Conference in the series is a unique opportunity for us to compare notes with our colleagues from other parts of the world on the issue of tackling infrastructural gap as it relates to the energy sector.
 
I have received the commitment of attendance from numerous top government functionaries, captains of industries as well as key stakeholders in the infrastructure value chain. So far, reports from our Information Technology (IT) Centre indicate 3, 500 Engineers and their Spouses have registered online and we expect more of our members to register onsite and join us at this all important conference. The event features include; Technical Paper Presentations, Exhibitions, Cultural Shows, Spouses Programme, Young Engineers Future Leaders (YEFL) Programme, e.t.c.
 
Land of Promise 2016
Our governments have for many years adopted a variety of policies for the purpose of promoting growth in order to boost the living conditions of citizens. In-spite of such concerted efforts, our people have continued to wallow in poverty.
 
This, undeniably, calls for the overhaul of our strategies to strengthen our economies, guarantee employment and decent standard of living. We must brace up to the challenge and be able to support the creation of jobs and businesses. 
 
To do this, steps in the direction of improving infrastructure, particularly access to reliable energy must be brought to the front burner. Even though our continent is well endowed both with fossil fuels and renewable resources, however, the inability of our governments to effectively optimize these available resources has made the pursuit of socio-economic activities difficult.  It is regretable therefore, to watch our countries lose large scale investments to other countries on account of decaying energy infrastructure.
 
In the light of the foregoing, NSE considers as very pragmatic, the theme approved for the 2016 Engineering Conference which is tailored towards exhausting all issues hindering the provision of adequate energy.
 
Plenary and Syndicate Technical Sessions  The main business of the Conference will be carried on at the Plenary and Technical Sessions which are usually brainstorm sessions where the themes and sub-themes of the conference will be exhaustively treated. 
Communique  At the end of the five-day event, a Communique arising from the proceedings and recommendations thereof will be presented to the Government and the general public.
 
RESTRUCTURING OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
Our vibrant gentlemen of the Press, as a professional body and major stakeholder in the national development processes in Nigeria, we have resolved on a proactive step purposely to stimulate futuristic approach to the cause of development. There is no doubting the fact that every nation that has become great has had to seriously encourage the study and practice of Engineering. This is because the advances and application of Engineering over time has led to the physical and economic development of many countries.
 
To face contemporary and future challenges, like 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. It is our responsibility as Engineers, and pivotal to the image of the engineering profession in Nigeria, to get Engineers make force-fit connection with public policy going forward. To be able to achieve this, our Engineers will be encouraged to assume positions of leadership from which they can use their knowledge and skills to influence positively the making of public policy, and in administration of government, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure. This presupposes a new engineering curriculum that offers political process, public policy, laws and regulations, funding mechanisms, public enlightenment and engagement, government-business interaction and the public service responsibility of professionals.
 
To sustain this advocacy, there are initiatives towards the formation of Nigerian Engineering Education Association (a Division of Nigerian Society of Engineers). Interested members of the Society that are in engineering education are requested to sign on as members of the Association.
 
OIL AND GAS
 
As a petroleum exporting nation, Nigeria, in partnership with various local and international contractors, upgrades its infrastructure most professionally. Each production enhancement ensures a tallying of the infrastructure for the evacuation of produced hydrocarbon. The maintenance of these infrastructures is equally commendable.
 
However, local systems of agitation and protests against government policies and positions on the crucial issues of wealth distribution have drawn some host communities and field actors of some opinion leaders into the vandalisation of our infrastructures. Outright saboteurs are not discountable.
 
Are we a consumer nation? That is far from the truth. We are, rather, an importer nation. We import the technology for petroleum resources exploration and exploitation. We equally import the consumers of our downstream resources. Given the fact that we do not consume a mere ten percent of our hydrocarbon production internally, little infrastructure in this regards exists. The associated facilities, quality and maintenance, are below par. Self-serving elites encourage the siphoning of petroleum products, negatively impacting existing infrastructure. The huge annual losses in national earnings and ghost contracts coupled with the failure of delivery of goods and services reflect the ever increasing distance of the nation from a genuine and sustainable development.
 
The bottom line is the relegation of our population of otherwise competent professionals into unemployment, misemployment or condemnation to seek greener pastures outside. This relegation and condemnation further encourage banditry and treasury looting at all levels. Outside the country, Nigerian professionals receive recognition and a pride of innovative space. It is timely to call on the authorities to strategize and deliver programmes, projects and plans to return value into our national human resources endowment.
 
MANUFACTURING
The continuous abandonment of Ajaokuta, Delta Steel Company and Itakpe, etc which ought to be industrialization enabler. The resultant effects of these are:
All iron rods needed for construction works have to be imported.
Open market costs of these elements have hit the roof because of our weak currency. Consequently, substandard materials flood the market. This adds to the high rate of the collapse of engineering structures. 
 
Monopoly of manufacture of cement by a select few. This restricts choice and indiscriminate pricing. Costs of products especially in the building industry become unpredictable.
 
High cost of construction materials and scarcity of loan facilities has slowed down activities in the industry. This has led to the inadequate provision of affordable houses.
 
Award of contracts to foreign firms without proper scrutiny of the conditions of contract has led to the sidelining of Nigerian professionals and importation of expatriate professionals and artisans that are in some cases inferior to their local counterparts.
African Engineering Conference on Energy: The President's Pre-conference Press Briefing
Governments policies and scarcity of foreign exchange has slowed down the growth in the economy and consequently the engagement of engineers. Training and experience gathered through these have virtually disappeared.
 
Most Governors and officials in high places award building contracts without due process and in some cases to unqualified political friends with impunity and arrogance. 
 
One was even bold enough to publicly declare that he should be held responsible for all actions relating to the award of the contract. The building collapse claimed a live. 
 
Professionals are further impoverished by the very long delays in the payment of professional fees.
 
Non deliberate efforts of government to support the industry to grow. For example, after about 60 years of Julius Berger in Nigeria, the policies of government ought to have aided the springing up of many local equivalents of such firms.
 
The Universities, polytechnics and our research institutions have been abandoned. No funds to research into new materials etc.
 
ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM
There is an urgent need for Governments, International Organizations & Communities to collaborate & work assiduously together for a sustainable safer environment.  The stakeholders would need the enactment of government policies, legislations & tangible enforcement of laws which will protect our immediate environment & communities from being exposed to hazardous effects of oil/ gas exploration & exploitation. The Government should work in tandem with the Council of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) to develop fiscal policies that will act as guide -lines for all construction / developments which could affect the Eco-system or Aquatic life in our environment. There should be Environmental Reports, prepared by relevant statutory authorities to support the sitting or construction of any Industry.The stakeholders -such as -the Engineers, Chartered Architects, Surveyors, Land Officers, Scientists, etc should have in depth knowledge of Environmental issues to facilitate the above procedures.Government should also intensify effort to crack down on Industries & Vehicles that pollute the Environment.
 
The gains in all these postulations are numerous:  (a) The risks associated with environmental degradation with its contributive factors such as Climate Change, will be reduced & vulnerable people would be able to survive. (b) The adverse effect of flood & erosion will be minimized if our Cities & Communities are structurally planned & executed. (c) On the devastating effect of the Oil spillage in Ogoni-land, there is need for Government to start the implementation of the ‘Clean-up’ advocacy of the United Nation’s Report. In addition,a social/Cultural Environment could be created for Tourism & Schools to suit the historical, cultural & economic aspects of the OGONI people until the land returns fertile for the people to cultivate. (d) More jobs will be created for the Engineers, Architects, Scientists & other relevant professionals in the public sector.   
 
 HOUSING
Every capital investment by nation states or individuals is expected to be driven by purpose and most often designed to meet a specific need or needs. Engineering Infrastructure and facilities are expensive but they underpin a country’s national development and the civilization of a people.
 
Investors, be it nations, corporate organizations or individuals have the responsibility of ensuring that investment in Engineering Infrastructure and Facilities are deployed in a functional state over its useful lifespan in order to maximize their return on the investment (ROI)
 
The Nigerian Society of Engineers, conscious of the challenges of sustainability of Engineering Infrastructure and Facilities and the national deficiency in this sector, have put in place an expert group known as the Nigerian Institution of Facilities Engineering &  Management to focus on this national need and meet the gap in both short and long terms.
 
The Nigerian Society of Engineers is already deploying this expertise to the Nigerian people and is willing to assist government in policy design and implementation in order to ensure the sustainability of Investments throughout the project life span of Engineering Infrastructure and Facilities projects in Nigeria.
 
Another Feat by Nigerian Engineers
Today, the Federal Government (represented by the Minister Power, Works and Housing, is commissioning a 330kV Switching Station in Ikot Ekpene engineered, procured and constructed by Catlark Int’l Ltd, a Nigerian Engineering Company led by a Nigerian Engineer and managed by Nigerian Engineers.
 
The Switching Station comprises 8 incoming lines and 4 outgoing lines. It is a switching station that has the capacity of adding 2,600 megawatts into the National Grid. The incoming lines are from Calabar, Alaoji, Ugwuaji, Ikot Abasi, and Afam Power Station. From Ikot Ekpene, the Power is wheeled up to Enugu, Jos, to the far North East. It is the biggest switching station in the country for now, and we rejoice that this magnificent, unique power project was built by Nigerian Engineers under a Nigerian Engineering company.
 
I am optimistic that the occasion of my presentation of the Communiqué emanating from the Conference, on Friday, November 25, 2016, will again provide us another unique opportunity to discuss other vital matters on the way forward for our development as a country.
 
I thank you very sincerely for your attention. God bless you all.
 
Engr. Otis Anyaeji, FNSE, FAEng
President

African Engineering Conference on Energy: The President's Pre-conference Press Briefing
African Engineering Conference on Energy: The President's Pre-conference Press Briefing

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