Engineering Is Development: Engineering And Development In Nigeria By Bayo Adeola (1)

The book, Engineering Is Development was published in 2009. In addition to documenting the history of engineering in Nigeria, it presented the discipline as the critical catalyst for national development.

The book did not engender as much discussion as the author expected. This is perhaps a result of its limited circulation in hard copy only, and even then not being generally available for purchase.

The present effort is to serialise the book in the public domain, and by so doing, engage the general public on the subject of engineering and national development. This serialisation is a summary of the key messages of the book and not the book in full. It will be published weekly on Tuesdays for the next four months.



Although it is often relegated to the background, history remains a veritable source of information and knowledge. Those who fail to learn lessons from events of the past often consign themselves hostage to events of the present and future. In making a bold claim about the importance of engineering to national and individual development, I needed proofs. Cue the intervention of former president of the Association of Consulting Engineers Nigeria (ACEN), Engr. Edet Amana who initiated to document the history in 2005 and invited several people to contribute to the book.

Thus began a journey to what has now become a compendium of facts, figures, details and discussions on how lack of appreciation of the pivotal role of engineering development to economic development has for a long time consigned Nigeria to the rank of under-developed nations. The volume focuses on issues of our national development. I have attempted to document and analyse the presence and absence of organised and sustained engineering inputs to our national development programmes.

Research has shown that Nigeria’s national development efforts have failed to produce desired results because the people seem not to realise that engineering must be enthroned in the national consciousness. There needs to be more efforts to develop our physical infrastructure grow our agricultural and industrial productions and maintain our environment in a sustainable basis to succeed. So far, our national development efforts have shown no clear strategy for engineering development and no appreciation of the pivotal role of such strategy to the success of our development effort.

The book, Engineering Is Development, is a veritable resource base, not only for information on engineering development in our country but also for the most important ideas required for national development. It is a must read for all students and practitioners of engineering and policy makers in Nigeria who would like to know how the presence or absence of engineering inputs have impacted our national developmental programmes in the past. Indeed, it is beyond just a history book but a “Clarion Call for Reform” needed for sustainable national development.

For the next few months, I shall be giving snippets from this this book that chronicles the development of the engineering consulting industry in Nigeria. In a more fundamental way however, it also tells a story of resilience in the face of difficult circumstances and growth in a profession and in an industry that is an essential prerequisite to economic development. In that context I shall be recommending it to anyone who needs to understand the particular circumstances of a developing country – any developing country. While the events it describes are specific to Nigeria, the effects of changing political and economic circumstances are not, and in fact are all too common in much of the developing world.

“Engineering is development; those governments that have come to this realisation have made the transition from under-developed to developed societies in relatively short time; those who have not remain in poverty and misery.”

The book ties politics, economic development, and engineering together in a way that shows how political changes have defined and often frustrated the opportunities for engineers to develop the infrastructure and facilities that countries need for successful economic growth. In this manner it defines the connections between the three and makes its case that engineering and development are synonymous. In a world is filled with good wishes for developing nations and all too often ill-conceived and poorly executed plans to “help” with their development, this book makes a contribution to our understanding from someone seeing the issues from inside.

In the words of Engr. Dr J. E. Amana, ACEN President 2004 – 2005,

“Engineering is development; those governments that have come to this realisation have made the transition from under-developed to developed societies in relatively short time; those who have not remain in poverty and misery.”

From next week, we shall consider the various historical perspectives of engineering in relations to development. It promises to be an insightful next few weeks if you follow me along. If you find it useful, please share and send me your feedback.

See you next week.

Bayo is the Founder and Managing Director of CPMS. He is a passionate advocate for developmental planning and the use of project management to help organisations actively build their value creation capabilities. Bayo has worked as a consulting engineer for more than 30 years, specialising in building structures, water and wastewater management, urban infrastructures, and more recently, highway designs. He speaks and writes internationally on Engineering as an intrinsic basis for development in Africa: he is an ardent believer in Engineering, Design and Technology as a necessity for a well set up future. In the past, he has served as Chair of FIDIC’s Capacity Development Committee and a former member of the FIDIC Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007. he can be reached at +234(0)8022910259;;


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