INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY THE 28th PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS, ENGR. MUSTAFA BALARABE SHEHU

In few weeks time, it will be a year that our President was elected to pilot the affair of Nigerian engineers. I can say he has delivered in most of his pan. This is for record purpose .

 

INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY THE 28th PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS, ENGR. MUSTAFA BALARABE SHEHU, FNSE ON THE 11th FEBRUARY 2012 AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFRENCE CENTER, ABUJA.

PROTOCOLS.

INTRODUCTION

All praise and thanks be to Allah by whose grace we are witnessing this special day in which there is yet another smooth transition in the leadership of this great society. From its inception 54 years ago, 27 distinguished Nigerian Engineers have taken similar responsibility and thus bringing this society to the enviable position it is today. Some of these great men of wisdom and vision whom we address as Past Presidents are right now with us to grace this particular occasion. I salute you Sirs.

Distinguished Engineers, I feel deeply humbled to stand before you in acceptance of this great responsibility as the 28th President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

This, is indeed an enormous and herculean task bestowed on me, considering the high level of expectation the nation has on us as engineers and of course the expectation that our members have on the leadership for their common welfare and prosperity. However, if I take into account the consistent support I have been enjoying since the beginning of my sojourn in the leadership of NSE – from Chairmanship of Kano Branch 12 years ago, to my tenure as Vice President for 3 years as well as my service as Deputy President for the last two years, I come to believe that this seemingly unsurmountable job, can be done. I therefore, thank all of you for finding me worthy to serve in this capacity, and like Oliver Twist, I am appealing for more support, co-operation, guidance and constructive criticism from you all, to take this Society to the higher position we all desire.

To my immediate Past President, Engr. Olumuyiwa Alade Ajibola, FNSE I will remain ever grateful for all the opportunities you have accorded me and the all-inclusive leadership style you have given us as President. I will try my best to fit into the large sized shoes you have left for me. With your co-operation and that of all the engineers, I will continue on the good work you have done to the next higher level.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I want us to reflect on the NSE mission and vision to enable us assess where we are from, where we are now and to know exactly where we are going so that we do not lose track.

The NSE mission reads as follows:

The Nigerian Society of Engineers shall be one of the very best Engineering professional bodies in the whole world.

The NSE Council also approved three sentenced mission statement in order to actualize the vision. These are as follows:

The Nigerian Society of Engineers is dedicated to the provision of quality service aimed at enhancing professional competence and development of its members at all times.The NSE is also committed to focus on collaboration with, influencing and providing quality advice to the various arms of the Government, Industry, Commerce, the Academia and the Society.The NSE shall make meaningful contribution to the advancement of technology worldwide.

Having gone through the mission statement set out for us, one may ask himself; Have we been doing well to accomplish our mission? The answer to this may vary from individuals to groups. Personally however, I have observed that over the years, we have been more or less talking to ourselves and that is why we have not been able to achieve our mission at the pace we should. We therefore, must change strategy. It is in the light of this, I will create  strong and effective communication links with the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, military and paramilitary, organized private sector and the general public. This is necessary for the Nigerian Engineer to have the opportunity to give the desired contribution for sustainable national development.

However, in as much as the leadership will do its utmost best to protect and project the engineer forward, the engineer also in his own individual capacity has to be mindful of the expectations the Nigerian public has on him.  As it stands today, the society we serve is not entirely satisfied with our performance. Hard as it may be to accept, I feel it is less important to focus on whether the assessment is fair or not. The important thing is for us to transparently come to terms with the prevailing realities, accept the gap in expectation and do our best to bridge it. Therefore, as professional engineers, we have to perform effectively and faithfully to earn public confidence.

OUR CHALLENGE AS A NATION.

It has become fashionable for leaders to publicly acknowledge the potential greatness of Nigeria without defining in clear terms and means of achieving such greatness. To take a global view of our concept of engineering, the correlation between Engineering and National development and perhaps ask the question; where are we as a professional body and as a nation? Countries like Singaphore, China, Dubai, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and even South Africa took deliberate action plans to change their course from under-development to greatness:

Your Excellencies, distinguished Fellows, Engineers, Ladies and Gentlemen, as experienced in these countries that achieved greatness, it is a fact that sustained development requires;

  1. Active government intervention and direction
  2. Investment in human capital development
  3. Discipline, commitment and time consciousness
  4. Application of science, engineering and technology to develop infrastructure and industry
  5. Ability to be consistent in policy formulation and implementation of such.
  6. Punishment and/or sanctions for transgression, offenders or non-performers.
  7. Sincerity in the fight against corruption.

 

Nigeria can learn and even excel from the experiences of the nations we have just mentioned.

The lack of infrastructure in Nigeria in all major sectors of our national life is a source of concern to all Nigerians and particularly to the engineers.  At a time like this in Nigeria, the Nigerian Society of Engineers is calling on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the country with regards to infrastructural development and mobilize all Nigerian engineers and put them to work on various projects identified across the geo-political zones in the country. The society of engineers stands ready to work with the government to put together details of this proposed engineering infrastructure emergency plan.   The society of engineers identifies with the present government and Nigerians on the imperatives to give special focus to infrastructural development, Energy sector specially Power, Transportation sector (rail, road, air and waterways), Agriculture and Education.

In Nigeria today, given the present state of infrastructure development there is no good reason why engineers that are trained and equipped with requisite technical skills at huge cost to the nation are left to wander the streets for years in search of employment. In the ensuing declaration of the engineering infrastructure emergency plan, no single Nigerian engineer should be left unengaged.  The solution to lack of development in Nigeria can only be evolved by Nigerians, a task that Nigerian engineers are by their training and practice equipped to be in the lead.  Nigerian engineers are ready to take up development projects from initiation, scope/concept, design, construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance.

As the president of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, I will lead the Society to partner with other stakeholders in the Nigeria Infrastructure deliverance plan and enhance the recognition of engineers and engineering practice in Nigeria. In line with that also, I will immediately set up a committee comprising of engineers from legislature, private sector, public sector and the academia to work with COREN to ensure that the approved Government White Paper on the Report of Presidential Committee on strategic plans for engineering development and control in Nigeria which was submitted in October, 2005 is enacted into law.

PRIVATISATION OF ENGINEERING COMPANIES

If the exercise succeeds, the on-going power sector reform/privatization exercise is expected open a new line of business that will see the injection of not less than $10billion/annum in the next decade. This massive injection of capital, mostly from foreign firms from India, China and Europe also implies massive injection of technologies which, if Nigeria does not position itself well, will not be domiciled in-country. The consequence of such a scenario, which we have already seen in other sectors of the economy, will be catastrophic for Nigeria (influx of foreign engineers, technologist, technicians and artisans, which will result in unemployment of Nigerian engineers, technicians and youths, capital flight, social insecurity, etc). So, will the exercise succeed?

To see to the success of the program, the NSE is of the opinion that as a matter of deliberate policy, Government should consider appropriate apportioning of shares of these would-be privatized companies to the Nigerian public, workers of the particular organisation and the core-investor while still retaining some shares for security and strategic reasons. With this kind of arrangement, the workers and the Nigerian public will see the Company as part of their heritage and will thus protect it from failure. With this model, all stakeholders interest would have been taken into account and a scenario as experienced in Ajaokuta will not manifest again.

In the privatization process also, Government  should have among others, consider the following policies to protect its citizens from being edged out from their businesses in the name global competition:

  1. Ø  Preferential selection of competent companies owned by Nigerians as core investors in the privatization process for the Government owned companies.
  2. Ø  Mandatory first consideration for usage of locally manufactured materials, such as cables, switches, transformers, and other miscellaneous electrical components.
  3. Ø  First consideration for local companies as service providers.

 

CONTINOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

In recognition of the need to make the Nigerian engineer meet the expectation of the ever-changing and emerging markets, the NSE under Past President Emeka Ezeh established the School of Engineering Practice which was commissioned on 18th July, 2007. This metamorphosed into NSE Engineering Practice and Resource Centre, EPRC last year. The EPRC has a Governing Board made of people of high integrity in the engineering, academic and business spheres. It is headed by Engr. Prof. Femi Bamiro, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.

The EPRC is to provide and deliver the best of industry skills and knowledge to young engineering graduates and experienced engineers through quality training aimed at providing start-up skills, specialist skills, developmental and continuing professional education for engineering graduates and personnel.  The Centre will also help to create a pool of resources and database for engineering skills, capacity availability for national statistics and job placement. This and other details of the EPRC will be posted on the NSE website. NSE under my leadership will give full support to this Centre and therefore call on all and sundry to team up with us to achieve this noble objective which is aimed at continuous professional development through capacity building of the Nigerian Engineering personnel.

YOUNG ENGINEERS DEVELOPMENT FORUM

“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help the next generation                                                                                      Famous Chinese proverb

The NSE council under the leadership of the Immediate Past President approved the establishment of the Young Engineers Development Forum in line with what obtains at the World Federation of Engineering Organisation, WFEO. The terms of reference for the forum are among others, the following:

Participation of Young Engineers in professional development in line with current technology.

Engineering career development in secondary schools and tertiary institution.

Preparing Young engineers for future leadership roles in the society.

At the last conference in Calabar, exhibitions from the Young Engineers were assessed and the best three were given prizes, the 1st of which is a trip to WFEO conference taking place in Slovania in September 2012.

The NSE under our purview will promote all engineering excellence especially from young Engineers. We shall give them the appropriate platform to showcase their engineering prowess to help in sustainable development.

I want to highlight however, that the development of the young engineers depends also on all of us who are senior in the profession. We have to create job opportunities, pay them adequately and reasonably, pay for their programs on continuous professional development i.e. workshops, conferences, seminars and even post-graduate courses. A situation whereby senior engineers  pay for local/overseas training for only their children, neglecting young engineers working with them is not healthy for the engineering profession and national development. That is the only way we can earn their loyalty, dedication and faithfulness.

I want to use this opportunity to announce that henceforth, any student that graduates from a Nigerian University whose engineering program is accredited will automatically be a graduate member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. The Secretariat is hereby directed to liaise with the Universities to see to the implementation of this policy.

WELFARE FOR ENGINEERS

While we are very ready to use the big stick on any member that falls below the engineering standard, the Council will equally pursue vigorously the welfare packages for our members. We shall continue to seek better conditions of service, healthy working environment, good remuneration and consistent patronage for our members in public and private sectors. In furtherance to this, I shall employ the opportunities available in the Nigerian content Act and work more with the National Assembly to extend the Act to cover all the infrastructural and developmental sectors of our economy. This is the only way to build sustainable infrastructure, buoyant economy and engender all-round prosperity among the nations citizenry.

We are all aware that the existing scale of fees for consulting services was last reviewed in 1996 and thus making obsolete for all intents and purposes. The NSE Council under my purview will liaise with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria, ACEN and other relevant professional bodies to see to the review of the scale of fees to conform to inflation indices over the years and the period we find ourselves today.

DIVISIONS OF NSE.

We have presently 18 Divisions of the NSE set up to identify with the different engineering specialities. While commending some Divisions for excellent performance in recent years, some Divisions are performing below the minimum expectation of the Council and therefore need to change attitude otherwise appropriate penalty could be met on them. The Divisions are the engine room of the society through which it moves. The facilities established at the EPRC should be fully utilized by the Divisions to make it vibrant and also earn reputation while improving its economic status.

BRANCHES OF NSE.

Branches are the political arms of the NSE. I will encourage Branches to draw up more activities in their domains and thereby enhance the visibility of the Society throughout the country. In as much as we encourage creation of additional branches where the need arises, we are also willing and ready to close any Branch due to non-performance and merge it with a stronger Branch nearby.

NATIONAL ENGINEERING CENTRE (NEC) BUILDING, ABUJA.

The NEC Building in Abuja phase II, which was started in 2008 during Engr. K.A. Ali continued during the immediate past President. However, the project faced some developmental challenges that hampered the progress of construction. I endeavour to face these challenges so that progress on the project could continue in the best interest of our great society and the nation as a whole. It should be noted that the NSE Headquaters when fully completed, will be one of the National Monuments the country will be proud of.

NSE HQ (Annex) LAGOS.

The NSE HQ (Annex) has undergone complete internal renovation and upgrade during the past two administrations while I intend to work on the external works on assumption of office. However, the Headquarters Extension is facing some challenges which I will also endeavour to face on assumption of office.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

In recent years, the Society has been recording tremendous achievement in its international affairs. This has resulted in the attendance of the WFEO President and Presidentelect to the 2010 NSE international Conference and the attendance of seven African Engineering Institutions to the 2011 Conference held in Calabar. Also, in the last WFEO Conference which took place in Geneva, after our attempt to contest for the post of presidentelect, our immediate past president, Engr. O.A. Ajibola was appointed the Special Adviser to the WFEO President on Africa. This is in addition to the position of Engr. Mustapha Bulama as Executive Committee member of the WFEO since 2009.

I will as NSE President, continue to do all it takes to increase our relevance in the world body and together with my colleagues from sister engineering institutions in Africa facilitate the actualisation of one African Engineering Institution which will be the sole representative of Africa at WFEO and any other world body. I will also encourage co-operation and business networking between engineering companies in Africa so that we take the lead in the development of African infrastructure.

APPRECIATION:

Besides thanking God for all the favours done to me that are too numerous to count, I will express my appreciation to my late father Malam Shehu Salihu who died in January 1975 that is eight months before I joined secondary school. He was extraordinarily kind and forward thinking. My gratitude also goes to my late mother, Hajiya Rakiya who passed on in August 1994. She was patient and always encouraged her children to be honest and determined. May Allah (subhanahu wa taala) forgive their shortcomings and bless their souls.

My sincere appreciation also goes to His Excellency the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, CFR, His Excellency my own Governor, Engr. (Dr.) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE the Executive Governor of Jigawa State His Execellency Alhaji Sule Lamido, CON. The Hon. Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolomemen, Hon. Minister for National Planning Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Hon. Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai and our Chief Host, the Hon. Minister of FCT Alhaji Bala Mohammed deserve a lot gratitude for sparing their valuable time to be here in spite of their tight schedules.

The past presidents of our great Society have over the years been very supportive to serving presidents. I have seen the support you have intended giving me by your presence here. I appreciate this very much. My colleagues the engineers, by whose mandate I am making this speech, I am indeed very grateful to you all.

Our royal fathers that are here, the representative of the Emir of Kano, Makaman Kano, Alhaji Sarki Ibrahim, the representatives of the Emir of Dutse, I am assuring you of my continuous loyalty and support to our communities.

This occasion would not have been successful if not for the effort of the indefatigable Engr. O.W. Uzebu, the Chairman of the Inauguration Committee and the highly committed members of that Committee. I thank you Sirs.

This inauguration is generously sponsored by State Governments, Federal Ministries and MDAs Engineering Companies, our friends and associates that are numerous to mention. I thank you very much for supporting NSE and the engineering profession in this regard.

My colleagues from sister engineering institutions in Africa, I very much appreciate the time and resources you have sacrificed to be here. It is hoped that our relationship will wax stronger and be mutually beneficial in the years ahead.

The management, engineers and staff of Amal Engineering Services Ltd (Now MBS Engineering Ltd) deserve a lot of gratitude for their commitment to work and making sure that my absence is not felt in the office as I am here in the service of our profession.

The members of the Secretariat staff deserves a big thank you for the passion and commitment they display in the discharge of their duties. Please keep it up and even improve.

My sincere appreciation goes to my teachers and lecturers at the primary schools, secondary school and the University.

My engineering career started during my NYSC at Enugu where Engr. U.A. Ata started me on a good footing by exposing me to the world of engineering and giving me all the financial support  to enable me concentrate on the job, I thank you a lot.  My first appointment was at NEPA Lagos Thermal Station under Engr. Saka Ikuye, who treated me so very well and he is here to witness this occasion all the way from Germany. I am indeed very grateful to you. I thank my former Managing Directors at Kano State Rural

Electricity Board for all their support and encouragement in my career.

I am very grateful to all my friends from far and near who have been very supportive to this event. A special mention of appreciation to Engr. Mohammed Kolo and Flt. Engr. A.A.G. Dakata both of blessed memory who had wanted to witness this day.

A big thank you to our mother Hajiya Umma who took the pain of being here in spite of her age and other health challenges, my brothers, sisters, cousins, many of whom are here to witness this occasion which we value so much in our family. Of special mention are my brothers from the UK, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu & Dr. Tijjani Shehu who arrived just yesterday to witness this occasion.

It is well known that nobody can achieve anything if the home-front is not peaceful. I am therefore most grateful to my wives Jamila and Habiba for the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere they created in my house and for their unconditional love and support. I am also very grateful to my children for their obedience, dedication to their studies and for their patience in getting used to my absence from home because of these assignments.

My gratitude goes to the distinguished members of the press without whose concerted effort, all we have said today will remain only here. Please let the world know.

I thank everyone for being here.

God bless the Nigerian Society of Engineers,

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Engr. Mustafa Balarabe Shehu, FNSE

President,

NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS

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