What does the future hold for the Nigerian Engineer? Ali Rabiu (Cigarin Lafia)

The problems of the Nigerian Engineer;

The Nigerian Engineer has obvious limitations.  A good number, self created. An average Nigerian Engineer is not a good mixer.  He fails to know that the whole of creation is inter-dependent and that synergy has tremendous potentials.  Self – centredness and greed are a serious limitation.
The average Nigerian Engineer does not believe in knowledge enhancement.  They don’t want to have anything to do with management, accountancy, public relations, human resource development etc. forgetting one who fails to be diverse, is highly restricted.
On the other hand, because of his operating environment that limits him, he tends to limit himself.  Because there is no government work, the world must come to an end; when as a matter of fact, education is about exposure and engineering in particular, is the cornerstone of creation.  Look around and create opportunities for yourself.
Influx of Chinese , other Asians and Arabs
Nigeria drives many other economies.  In other words, many countries on the surface of the globe, survive because of Nigeria.   As if that was not enough, the Chinese, Other Asians, Arabs, South Africans etc are taking over almost everything in Nigeria from construction, telecoms to retail trading and even driving.
Billions are repatriated weekly out of this country from activities that Nigerians can and should, handle with the right policies in place.   It is a very normal policy for a country to protect its citizens in all ramifications.  When it would be too late, we will then wake from  our deep slumber.
The Nigerian Content Initiative
The Nigerian Content Initiative which has its origins from the Oil Sector, and which should be extended to all other sectors, is an initiative meant to stem the ugly tide.  But all these without the political will to implement same to the letter, would be another waste of time-and opportunities.
The Role of Corruption;
Engineering Regulation Monitoring is part of the law of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).  The law is very clear on how engineering should be carried out in the country, who should do what, who should be where in Engineering etc. The Government White Paper on the Strategic Plans for Engineering Development and Control in Nigeria published in October 2005 is a beautiful document by all  intents and purposes.

The same government that enacted the law in the first place, is not keen in its implementation because of interests of the officials.

The same government that enacted the law in the first place, is not keen in its implementation because of interests of the officials.  It is like that in every facet of our national life.  There is selective and discriminate implementation of laws, rules and regulations depending on what interest is to be protected, when all must be subject to the rule of law. This is Nigeria‘s problem which is at the root of every other problem.  Corruption seems to be reduced to only money exchanging hands.  But it must not be so.  If a government fails to enforce its own laws, it is the worst form of corruption because it gives room for abuses.  A politician who manipulates the system in any form is corrupt etc.  Laws therefore must not only be enforced but must be seen to be enforced.

 Capacity building is very pertinent in engineering and it is a very positive policy thrust.

Capacity Building;
Formal education prepares a candidate for the future challenges inherent in daily living.  Continuous development of the individual so prepared depends on his or her disposition to life and living.  It is important to realize that continuous education is investment in self.  Engineering is very dynamic where daily changes are recorded around the globe, in critical areas of life. Capacity building is therefore the continuous updating of engineering knowledge through attendance of courses, conferences, workshops, symposia and also on the internet.  It also entails upgrading learning equipment, libraries and laboratories for the latest discoveries.  This is necessary otherwise an engineer risks becoming archaic.  Capacity building could be a deliberate policy decision by government or organizations or both.  Capacity building is very pertinent in engineering and it is a very positive policy thrust.
In view of the foregoing, it is recommended that adequate training and retraining of skilled manpower necessary for a vibrant engineering sector should be pursed with vigour at all times. There should be concerted efforts in the following areas:
Engineering Curriculum:
(a) The accreditation bodies and educational institutions, in consultation with professional bodies and industry should ensure regular review of engineering curricula, preferably every 5 years: to take cognizance of technological changes- the needs of Industry and changing national priorities.
(b) Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) should ensure implementation of the one year mandatory SITSIE programme for fresh engineering University graduates and HND holders before they are presented for the NYSC scheme.
(c) In line with current trends, engineering curricula should include standardized mandatory information technology (IT) modules.
Facilities
(a) That educational institution, COREN, NUC and NBTE should ensure that faculties of engineering in tertiary institutions are equipped with minimum acceptable facilities including staffing, classroom, laboratories and workshops.
(b) NDE in collaboration with IDCs, TICs, NCAM should ensure that the facilities available at these and other similar publicly funded projects are put to use for the re-training/additional preparation of the teeming number of the unemployed engineering graduates and technologists to facilitate their self-employment.
(c)    Need to equip training institutions for laboratory work and workshops at all levels of training.
(d) Need to establish centers of excellent where people go to receive training for apprenticeship and specific trades
(e) Need for industries to provide facilities at tertiary institutions for students to have practical knowledge of the real life situations
Post -Institutional Training
(a) The NYSC enrollment for graduate engineers and technologists should be tied to the completion of the mandatory one year SITSIE programme.
(b) COREN should ensure that admission of students, graduate engineers and technologists from particular institutions to the SITSIE programme is tied to the capacity of available training facilities in those institutions.
(c)     The Engineering Endowment Fund (EEF) as canvassed in the Presidential Committee’s report on strategic plan on Engineering development and control should be established as an intervention scheme.
(d) The ITF programme should be refocused primarily to funding the work experience in science and engineering students in the industry
Staffing
(a) NUC and NBTE should put in place appropriate machinery to ensure that engineering staff recruited in tertiary institutions is a good mix of people possessing relevant academic and industrial experience.
(b) To stem the tide of brain drain in the Universities and Polytechnics an enabling environment appropriate incentives should be provided for engineering academic and technical staff in tertiary institutions
(c)    That as a matter of priority, Government should increase the budget for R & D as a percentage of GDP in line with UNESCO’s recommendation.
(d) That Government should ensure that local contents, R&D and training are included in the criteria for the award of Public Sector contracts of N1.0 billion and above.
(e) Government should make the conditions of Service of technologists, technicians, craftsmen, artisans, attractive to retain their services in their cadre
(f)     Relevant Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and agencies of Government, particularly, Ministries of Science & Technology, Education, Agriculture, Communication and Industry should support the periodic exhibitions by tertiary institutions, research institutes and industries to create avenue for dissemination of successful R & D . (Source: Government White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Committee on Strategic Plans for Engineering Development & Control in Nigeria, October 2005)
What does the future hold for the Nigerian Engineer?
The answer to this question lies with us, “the engineers”.  Engineers must not wait to see what the future has for them.  Engineers should decide what the future should have for them.  Engineering is about creativity.  Here pro-activity is very imperative.  Nigerian engineers should put on their thinking caps and retreat into strategic thinking with a view to deciding what the future should be. Pertinent areas to consider are small scale/cottage industries, the power sector, agriculture, pulp and paper, housing development, education to name only a few.

The Nigerian Engineer will be judged harshly by posterity if he fails to provide leadership for a Nation in dire need of leadership.

EPILOGUE:
The Nigerian Engineer will be judged harshly by posterity if he fails to provide leadership for a Nation in dire need of leadership.  Engineers  often blame politicians for appointing non-engineers to engineering positions.  But the few that have found themselves in positions of authority rarely identify with the engineering profession, talkless of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
We all need a rethink.  We need to change the way we view life.  We need to realize that a life of service to others gives us more satisfaction than if we focused on ourselves and on our families alone.
We need to realize that synergy is valuing differences.  We need to realize that by coming together we will produce more for everyone.

Our problem they say, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Excerpt from paper The Nigerian Engineer and National Development by Engr. Ali Rabiu, FNSE,., Engr. Rabiu is a former Vice President of Nigerian Society of Engineers and a one time Chairman, NSE Kano. He is Principal Partner Ar-Consulting. a : 

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