Home Opinions SAVE THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION BY DEDE SOKARI

SAVE THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION BY DEDE SOKARI

Let me start with this saying “if a doctor makes a mistake, it might cost the life of just one person but if an engineer makes a mistake, it will cost the life of many people”, I mean no disrespect to the medical profession.

I am from a developing country that is in dire need of infrastructural and technological development. When it comes to these two important sectors which are necessary for the growth of any developing nation, we can only look in the direction of one profession – the Engineering profession.

The importance of this profession in a nation cannot be over-emphasized (especially in a developing one such as Nigeria). This nation has over 20 institutions that offer civil engineering as a course of study, and it also produces 2000+ graduates from these institutions yearly. These graduates who have struggled for 4 years or more in the higher institutions to obtain a degree in engineering would wake to a sad state that they cannot practice what their hearts beats for simply because:

The government does not believe that the Nigerian engineer who knows his/her country very well can perform if given the job (mostly for political reasons) so they look for foreigners – they call expatriates;

  1. Their career has been taken over by quacks; and
  2. The laws that have been made for the safe practice of the engineering profession are not being implemented.

For instance, the issue of building collapse – a menace in the present day Nigeria. The collapse of buildings is now a monthly issue that even the media is tired of reporting. The main issue of building collapse is quackery. These buildings collapse and innocent citizens (victims) lose their lives. If a Nigerian civil engineer is involved in the building construction process, steps will be taken from the design, construction to completion phase to avoid this sad ordeal – building collapse.

The government should be strict on this and make laws that for any structure to be planned, every plant to be operated or serviced, every electronic device or power system, a Nigerian engineer of the corresponding field must be involved and present. The Council for the regulation of engineering in Nigeria (COREN) should also rise to the occasion and enforce the laws through the various branches of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).

I know of countries where an individual cannot change a light bulb without the notice of the appropriate authority – the electrical department. I also read about a young Nigerian engineer by the name SILAS ADEKUNLE who works with apple inc., he is the highest paid robotics engineer in the world. I believe his dreams would have been forgotten if he had been in this country because the government believes in foreigners – expatriates.

At this point in time, it can be said that the Nigerian Engineering sector is in a state of emergency. Although it is not too late to resuscitate it if the government of the Federal republic of Nigeria believes in its indigenous Engineers.

DEDE KENIGHENI SOKARI is the National Coordinator, NICE-SA and can be reached at ksokaridede@gmail.com

1 COMMENT

  1. Apologies or not, Engineering is required for the local medical industrial sector to meet its challenges and avert frequent strikes for “Standard Equipment” that is gradually becoming a norm. Engineers are responsible for developing these equipment. It would amount to living-a-lie if we think we can or must import all the various utensils and devices needed in our hospitals.
    That said, there are myriads of challenges confronting the Engineering sector. Most prominent, yet far-fetch, being gross underpayment and holistic emergence.
    The Ingeniers who lead the way and blaise the trail for others to follow are required to attend international conferences, workshops, seminars, symposia, etc, where current trends and updates are discussed first-hand. This is a must if they must be current and up-to-date in their professional practice. Yet they are paid a paltry NGN54 000 which translates to $150 per month. These events most times could cost up to $25 000 or more in a year. In other climes, Ingeniers are started on salary of between $10 000 and $24000 per month. Who is more capable of attending these events and get updated among the salaries stated?
    Holistic emergence can be blamed in explaining so many ills in the sector – including even the underpayment – but is mostly due to lack of will to learn. Something like, blind copy-and-paste as well as “Let’s just do it the way we had been doing before”; whether it is working or not is not important. One manifestation of this is wrong job allocation, especially to Ingeniers. It take between 6 months and 2 years to train craftsmen. Technicians and technologists are trained for between 3 and 5 years while Ingeniers are trained for 9 years at a stretch; yet all these people are expected to do exactly thesame job. If for no other reason, the differences in length and curriculum content of training should inform any reasonable person that their jobs are different. Literarily; Engineering means “Working with the brain” and Bachelors in Engineering, which I preferrably spell as Ingenier to avoid conflict with other uses, are ‘Brainworkers’ while Technologists are specialists in specific areas of the various Engineering disciplines. Technicians are repair and service personnel as well as Technologists-in-training.
    One final point worth stressing is the administration of projects and law of contracts. We just go and lift laws from foreign jurisdictions and implement them whole scale, under the guise of fightihg corruption, without considering our peculiarities. No two countries practice engineering in exactly same ways. This should be the case, than not, in a country where the level of education needed to become a lawmaker is ordinary primary 6 certificate. For crying out loud, what does a pry 6 holder know about Engineering? Such person is required to legislate on the fate of the profession at the end of the day. Certain things are not even worth contemplating talk more or less of implementing.
    If the points commented here are adequately addressed, progress is inevitable.

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