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Monday, October 2, 2023

we’ve successfully put down structures and templates that give every Mechanical Engineering student integral roles in the institution


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In this interview, the President of the National Student Forum, a Student Arm of Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers spoke to Isqil Najim on issues bordering the body and his view on the Nigerian Engineering and affecting the young engineers. The interview has been published in the NIMechE National Newsletter and repeated here.

Can we have a short glimpse of your background?

I am Ibrahim Olushola Balogun from kwara state, Born some few years ago into a humble family. I had a disciplined and very eventful youthful life. I started my student unionism at Government Secondary school Nyanyan, FCT Abuja. I have always been a crusader of student’s welfare and right’s advancement. I have held several positions in the student cause, few of which are Secretary general of the National Association of Kwara State Students, Secretary General Isokan, a pan-yoruba students association, I was later enthrone as Oba of Isokan ATBU. I was also the pioneer president of Nigerian Institution of mechanical Engineers, ATBU Students Chapter. I am currently rounding up my mechanical/production engineering program at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.

Can you tell us your journey so far as NIMechE student leader?
Leadership is a great trust. It has been a worthwhile challenge and admirable experience piloting the affairs of NIMechE for the last couple of months as the pioneer president. The journey has been rough but I thank God for the hardworking executives who have been working tirelessly to achieve the desired vision of the association. Being a nascent association, we have successfully put down structures and solid templates that give every Mechanical Engineering student integral roles in the institution. This we have been able to pass across through awareness and familiarization tour to mechanical offering institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. Two higher institutional chapters (i.e FEDPOLY Bauchi and UNILORIN) have been inaugurated and about four more (i.e OOU, UAM, KADPOLY, NUHU BAMALI POLYTECHNIC) are supposed to have been inaugurated as they have completed their requirements, no thanks to the on-going ASUU strike. Furthermore, in terms of inter-personal network development, there is a “Whatsapp” and “facebook” group and also interactive sessions during the AGM where mechanical engineering students from different schools interact and information were disseminated.

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In the area of individual development, students have been sponsored with the help of the institution to motivational talk, state chapter AGMs, business luncheon and conferences in which we are updated on current trends in the industry and get to interact with the professionals. We have also been able to secure industrial attachment for students.

What is the goal and vision of the NSF?
To develop young and active engineering minds, foster teamwork and create a network of professionals for the repositioning of mechanical engineering in the country and attainment of National growth, we are committed to lifting and getting the names of the institution in gold.

Most students are reluctant to serve without gratification, how have you and your team coped so far and what were your motivation?
Students’ unionism is a selfless service just as service to the nation should be. Service without gratification is a real test for people who are willing and ready to work, it also measures the extent to which resources can be effectively utilized.

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With my little experience in leadership, passion is very important because especially when things are not going as planned, passion remains the drive. Mechanical engineering is our passion and we see it as a point of fulfillment to do everything within our grasp to uplift the profession. We have been able to stick to the fact that “we are better not part, than to be part without an impact”.

What are your accomplishments?
I give glory to God for using the pioneer executives as a tool of transformation to set the institution to the right track. NIMechE before NSF has only SEVEN inaugurated school, In our little time, we have been able to:

– Inaugurate two more institution [FedPoly Bauchi and UNIILORIN]
– Confirmed the inauguration of two institutions [ESUT and IMT ENUGU]
– Four institutions (i.e OOU, UAM, KADPOLY, NUHU BAMALI POLYTECHNIC) have completed the requirement for inauguration.
– Students participated in many programme such as Industrial visit, Lectures, Seminars, Workshops, Luncheon and AGMs.
– Organised the first national students project competition
– Students mechanical lecture of the year. Lagos, June, 2013
– Students annual general meeting. Akure. Oct, 2013

What can the institution do to assist the student body grow?
I want to use this opportunity to once again appreciate the efforts of the leadership of this Institution for the programmes they have put in place for students and also their focus on pupillage but furthermore, the NSF still has a lot of sides to be built, among this are: firstly, there has to be some sort of training geared towards the industrial needs of certain times organized periodically and a form of assessment to follow to verify that student participants have actually benefitted and are qualified in the respective areas. This would assist in adding quality to our strength. Secondly, the NSF should be given free hand to carry out some administrative duties as this will also serve to improve the skills of the NSF and particularly her executives in handling administrative matters. The points stated above are very crucial to not just the growth of the NSF but also to its stability.

Most universities have been shut for the past five months, what is your perspective on this and how is it affecting the students
ASUU protracted strike is so unfortunate. Though ASUU is fighting a legitimate cause in terms of making the ivory towers be of relative standard to their contemporaries in other part of the world. But I doubt if every of their member are truly committed to this noble cause because the zeal is not in most of our lecturers. I would want ASUU as intelligentsia to look out for other means of addressing their grievances with the government and see strike as the last resort.

University being a tripartite set up has both government and ASUU doing their work while wasting students’ precious time. it is a story of two fighting elephants that made the grass suffer. Students gain nothing from strike and loose many things. One thing that is certain is that the strike will be called off one day. Then can the government or ASUU account for this lost time? We have our stay on campus extended without apologies and compensation. It is always a start over for students after the strike is called off. Extra cost on parents and other demeaning experience by the student.

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Unemployment is one big scourge ravaging the nation, what in your views are the ways government and professional associations can help?
Having a requisite skills for jobs and such jobs are either unavailable or one is being underpaid could be so lurid and saddening. This country has enormous resources that can cater for both skilled
and unskilled labour. Government should be commended but are not been doing enough. She should sincerely fight corruption and harness those manufacturing sectors that are yet to be tapped. Repair our refineries and other moribund institutions that has been a source of livelihood to millions of Nigerians.

The entrepreneurship concept of government is a laudable project but the fact is that all our graduates cannot turn to entrepreneurs. Ethnic and religious bigotry should be punishable under our laws.

Most professional associations have not been concern with their amateur members. The way the Nigerian Medical Association guides their student members from their first year in school through their
mandatory services year, the same for Nigerian Bar Association. It would have been a progressive step if our own Nigerian society of Engineers make a blue print for the students not to only be a member
and conference attendees but should be given some good sense of belonging. Under the National Youth service Corps scheme, a medical doctor will always be posted to the hospital and a lawyer to a law
firm while our own graduate engineers are posted to primary and secondary schools. This issue called for serious concern by our stakeholders in the engineering sector. Amateur engineers should be
integrated into the system with certain roles and responsibility One year experience with an engineering firm will be a remarkable work experience which will contribute immensely to the development of our nation and engineering profession.

Where do you want to see yourself in the next five years?
Only God can be certain and He is the final arbiter and decider of all human endeavors. We make plans but he ratifies the best for us. I actually wish to be an engineer of great repute contributing to national growth and development. In the next five years…..I see myself working with a multinational organisation, leading a productive team and contributing immensely to the growth of my organisation.

What do you want to be remembered for?
I will like to be remembered as a Civic-minded person. An altruist in student cause who is diligence, reliable and have the willingness to serve.

How do you unwind?
Watching the best team in the world play…that’s Barcelona and chatting with my loved ones.

What is your personal mission statement?
Being a production Engineer is a ladder towards achieving my career objectives which include scientific approach to solving engineering challenges. I am confident that when my research-oriented goals are actualized, the desire to make contribution to this discipline will be effective, which will be sufficient for me to be a prolific engineer, acquiring skills in various disciplines and harnessing them in breaking barriers, adding value to myself (since development is a continuous process) and my colleagues, and have a positive impact in the life of the people around me.

Your parting words
It is the greatest honour and privilege ever conferred on me to be National president of this great professional body [NIMechE-NSF]. I wish publicly to thank the members of this great institution for the great honour, electing me to this reputable office on 21st of February, 2013 at Yaba College of Technology Lagos. I will everly remain grateful for this opportunity given to serve.

I want to sincerely advise my colleagues to not only hope to earn a living but also be passionate about their careers as the institution has the will to assist in building careers, and also not lose focus in their academics, it is crucial in this path that we have chosen.
Because, where we are, is nothing compare to where we are going.

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