Lawal Richard Seun is the president of NIMechE National Students Forum, the students wing of NIMechE. He spokes to Isqil Najim on plans.
Isqil Najim: Your administration came on board last year. Can you go down memory lane on the experience in leading National body like NSF?
Lawal Richard: Hmmm, I expected most of what I’m experiencing. However it was more than I bargained for. Getting people from different campuses, different tribes and believe system to work together to achieve a goal has actually been a challenge. Especially with the problem of distance.
The experience has been mixed. It’s been exciting at some point and frustrating at another. In fact, it might interest you to know I wanted to quite at two particular point especially when I lost my dad
Isqil Najim : what keeps you stronger and more resolute to achieve your target?
Lawal Richard: What has kept me going is just the difference our success will make, the lifes we will touch. That feeling is what keeps me going. I want to see that happen.
Isqil Najim : How have you been able to work with various campus chapters?
Lawal Richard: It has always being a challenge and it still is. But as we know challenges are meant to be overcomed.
We have have a president forum on whatsapp which is made up of all students chapter Presidents. We discuss and deliberate there and the resolutions and information will be carried across the campuses by the presidents. During the last administration we created another platform for all chapter General secretaries and this administration created one more for all chapter PRO, where we post vital information which they send to their various schools and a telegram page for all mechanical engineering students in Nigeria. We also have two general whatsapp page for class reps and social media platforms that is widely followed by our students.
This platforms helped us reach them and carry them along.
And we have been able to visit over 14 of all out 30 chapters.
Isqil Najim: Tell me about some of your programmes for the year and the execution level so far..
Lawal Richard: We have programmes which are generally to achieve 3 things.
First is to develop ourselves
Secondly is to develop our environment.
And thirdly is to build bond among us.
First is the National D&P.
This is a national training for students in the use of design software and programming. This training will take place intensively on every mechanical engineering campus in Nigeria. The aim is to make sure that more than 70% of every mechanical engineering graduate can use design software and a program in at least one language. The training will start from April 2019.
We also started a program called technical session and Mentorship on our Telegram page. The purpose is to train ourselves on things we normally will not learn in the class room. We hold a 2hrs session every Sunday on one topic or the other we invite professionals to speak to us on them and answer questions. The last two topics were on Personal Presentation and Project Management
The second is the national bookdrive secondary school conference .
This a project that is set to plant 15 secondary school libraries in Nigeria this year. We’ve started on it from our various campuses and online campaigns for book donations and is moving very well. We have a strong management team which includes professional engineers. The program needs a lot of support from the public especially those that has experienced the pain of going to school without textbooks to read
The goal of this program is to help improve the literacy level in Nigeria and make knowledge available also to the poor.
National football tournament
This is a program tagged Mechanics of football is primarily meant to unite our campuses in friendship and add a little fun to academics. The tournament will be played by every mechanical engineering departments in Nigeria and the finals will be played on our AGM.
This is a conference that brings all mechanical engineering students in Nigeria together in one place. This year’s own will be held in bayelsa and preparations have started already.
National bookdrive secondary school conference and Mentorship.
It will also include us visiting secondary schools around our campuses and talking to them about theIr challenges with their subject by narrating how we overcame ours and the result it had on those of us who failed to overcome theirs
Isqil Najim: what motivated you to embark on these and the book drive effort?
Lawal Richard: I happen to be one of the many students that had a poor secondary school education background. Out of 18 terms in junior secondary school I was only privileged to attend 7 and just two out of 9 terms in senior secondary school.
When it was time to sit for WAEC and JAMB, I practically knew nothing and it was certain I will fail. Out of such fear I spoke with a teacher and he introduced me to a library then. Funny enough the Library had no real secondary school textbooks. I had to buy the ones I could buy and borrowed others. I read there every morning till evening since I was not going to school. With the help of that library and the guidance of Mr. Teslim and Mr. Jelili I came out from my WAEC as the best from my school and I got distinction in those subjects I had text books for. This made me realize the importance of text books and how much failure we’ve had in Nigeria just because students couldn’t get a text book.
As Barack Obama ones said, “our duty is to leave the world better than we met it”. So I decided to use this opportunity to call the public to help make sure our young Nigerians are not deprived of knowledge just because their parents can’t afford to get them textbooks, especially those of us that experience this first hand
The Mentorship attached to it is to make sure students don’t make the various mistakes we made when we got into higher institution.
Like for me, I was the first in my family to go to a university. Getting there I had no experience, no one to guide me and was a shy person. I made tons of mistakes I wish I could turn around.
The Mentorship is aimed at preventing students from making the avoidable mistakes we made by guiding them as best as we can by informing them of what being in a university requires.
Isqil Najim: What about the book drive?
Lawal Richard: The big goal is to have secondary school libraries across Nigeria. This year we will be setting up 15 secondary school libraries in Nigeria.
From our analysis of secondary school subjects and curriculum 1000 books is enough to start up a library and the average cost of a secondary school textbook is #2000. So we will be needing 15000 books or 30million to carry out this projects.
One thing I know and always reteriate is that “no great achievement anywhere has ever been achieved by a single person, it takes the collection of great people to make great achievements“. So we call on the general Nigerian students, individuals, cooperate bodies, companies, industries, government, NGOs, printing press and the general public to join us in this and become the reason why those poor children will stay in school and do well by donating your used and new books to this cause.
By sponsoring or partnering with us in this project.. By donating money for book acquisition.
We have a very good proposals I am sure you will want to see.
Isqil Najim: What is your message to your colleague?
Lawal Richard: I will just want them to know that every single one of them is important to me and their success and improvement is our desire. And For us to succeed then we have to work together to make it happen because there’s no limit to what we can achieve only if we work together. If we can think it then we can do it.
Isqil Najim: Thank you for your time and safe journey
Lawal Richard: Thank you Sir
LAWAL Oluwaseun Richard;
National President NIMechE~NSF/Chairman National Bookdrive
Chairman, Planning Committee
Head, Sponsorship and Awards