Young Engineers’ Challenges: Let’s get this right together…

Dear Young Engineers, There is no point in denigrating  our profession just because some issues are beyond our controls and our efforts at putting them right have not been yielding fruits… This constant nagging among some young  members and negative  name calling of our professional bodies is as good as denigrating of our profession. This variously arise as a result of lack of jobs to go round and lack of opportunities to embark on their professional journey after graduation.
I thought engineers pride themselves  as professionals that are trained to solve problems. Why then are some of us running away from solutions and looking for messiah outside ourselves?  I thought engineers are the only professionals who would proudly agree with Scott Adams that “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”
As much as I know some issues affect us as professionals… and some are embarrassing. . I realized from my involvement in the deep works  that it will take more than meeting government officials to put them all right.. it will take more than cursing and complaining…the problem sometimes is beyond our professional associations. …it will also take more times.
I am also sad that many young engineers don’t know the difference  between NSE and COREN or their respective duties  even after graduating from universities and polytechnics. . Where “Engineers in Society” is a compulsory course that they must pass before graduating. So when I read fresh graduates of engineering put in some posts about NSE on social media I tend to ask myself if the NUC had deleted that course from the curriculum  or  the  graduates simply skipped it. How else will I answer a first class graduate of engineering that NSE and COREN are not the same and they don’t have the power of he Federal Government of Nigeria to do as they wish.
I also noticed that many young engineers are self-centred. They think the senior engineers don’t have professional challenges or problems or their companies does not have challenges. They assume that the foreigners taking the local jobs are not affecting the jobs of the seniors engineers… We are all in this together.. the Nigerian economy affects everyone. . Young and old.. public or private sector engineer. We must sow empathy  rather that throw abuses and curses in their direction.
For the sake of understanding. COREN is creation of constitution  of Federal Republic of Nigeria. . It derived it’s powers and functions from the constitution  and the officers in that Council can never change or expand on their scope as defined by constitution  except by amendments of the COREN Act by the National Assembly… what this means is that the fate of COREN  is not in hands of engineers or the people running it but in hands of Senators  of federal Republic. Unless and until they amend the Act, there  is limit to how they can deliver their duties and they can not take certain decision as regard sanctioning foreign firms or compelling government to employ all graduates of engineering. . Even if they flex muscle  it will have no impact in Nigerian law and would be considered illegal and unconstitutional should they go beyond their constitutional power. NSE on other hand is a Professional Association registered with CAC.
I therefore appeal to people who constantly denigrate COREN  over everything including lack of jobs in the country to kindly read the COREN  Act or find their COREN handbook given to them as part of the “Engineers in Society” course and read again.
Yes COREN has not been performing  miracles. but can’t unilaterally effect most of the changes demand by younger and older engineers neither can NSE unilaterally do it. The responsibility  for that lies in National assembly. To the best of my knowledge  there had been many overture to the Senators on this. Hence it is unfair to continue to demean ourselves just because results are not coming faster as we expected. Other professionals that we compare ourselves to also have their challenges and all of them need the attention of the FG and National Assembly . The constitutional function of NJC is not the same as COREN.

The  question we should be asking is.. what can we do about this and how can we as members be a part in ensuring that COREN is empowered by National Assembly to widen it’s scope of works. What are you as engineer doing or going to do as part of the collective efforts? It is not a job for one man but a collective responsibility that we all must play our roles.

Our youths are angry and yearning to contribute into national development, rightly so.. Our young engineers are unhappy about the way things are going in their postgraduate engineering adventure. But this is not a good reason to bring down the house. Respect your profession and maintain your dignity while you consciously be part of the change makers.

I bring to you the pleasing work of Prof Henry Petroski: “As engineers, we were going to be in a position to change the world – not just study it.” We are going to get this right together.. young and old.

Written by  Isqil Najim  (Follow him on twitter @isqilnajim)


  1. Hello Engr Isquil,

    Nice write up. I agree with you on most points you raised but will disagree slightly on the need for more legislation and Senate action.
    My view is that COREN is not meeting the expectations of engineers largely because it was set up to register engineers and engineering personnel ab initio. Regulation and monitoring, which is critical to a vibrant and viable industry, is not one of it's strong points. COREN has a mandate to regulate the practice of engineering in Nigeria and to do that in a country as large and diverse (and complex) as ours, will require a robust and extensive mechanism. The ERM of the Council is just not adequate for the job at hand. COREN should evolve a system that engages the membership strength and spead of the NSE to ensure that only persons duly registered are allowed to practice. As a side note, NAFDAC always had the laws establishing it to control foods and drugs consumed in the country but it took the courage of the late Dr Akunyili to enforce those laws.
    We should try and use what we have to get the best results first and then we can seek further legislative action to tweak the laws and get better as the years go on.

    Best regards,

    Engr Idong Uko

  2. You made a good point Engr Idong Uko.. unfortunately that is exactly why COREN need legislative amendment.. COREN was established to register Engineers as part of its primary functions..the regulatory part is weak and was not given enough power to bark and bite.

    COREN was established as a body corporate on 5th December, 1970 with the following general duty of:
    _ determining who are engineers for the purposes of this Act;
    _ determining what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as engineers and raising those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit;
    _ securing, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons entitled to practise as registered engineers and the publication from time to time of lists of those persons;
    _ regulating and controlling the practice of the engineering profession in all its aspects and ramifications;
    _ performing the other functions conferred on the Council by this Act.

    You can read in full here…

    COREN was not created in mould of NAFDAC as you can see if you read the Act in full…

    I agree that ERM has not been fully functioning… I have seen it before and worked with them when they first started. I also am of belief that it can do better than this. but it has many limitations and cannot bite. Even after investigations, there are still no power to bite. That is why people who had been found wanting went away with just warning.. the COREN legislation did not provide for extensive handling…

    I also agree with you that the Council has not fully exhausted its regulatory functions… but there are many loops in the Acts itself including the headship of the act by a minister of works.. Right now.. it is a Lawyer who is the Constitutional head of COREN! And that is because the constitution said it…

    My take is that engineers should sit together and look at all these loops which made the council unable to discharge it function in full. We cant run away from it as long as it is the only Constitutional Body recognised in Nigeria to perform that job. And we cant sabotage our profession because the Council is not achieving optimum results.. bottomline is that we must be really concerned and seek out solutions using all available means.. Including the amendment of he Act… I personally want the Act to replace some sections including the ones where anyone who is a minister will be the Head of the Council.. it is like saying a Supervisor should be headed by the same person he is supervising…


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