Engineers, technologists, technicians, Craftsmen and related stakeholders came together under the auspices of The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria(COREN). It was the 26th Engineering Annual Assembly which was held at the International Conference Center ( ICC) in Abuja from 7th-9th August, 2017.
The conference Themed, “Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities for a Better Future; focused on engineering advancement, strategies, contribution to national development, how to attain real growth, suggestions and possible remedies.
Within the three days, several articulated papers were presented, which examined stakeholders desire to brainstorm on the gamut issues associated with entrepreneurship and manufacturing in Nigeria.
There are various challenges bedeviling the engineering sector ranging from quacks, unethical practices, lack of expertise, collapsed bridges and high-tension lines.
Despite these challenges affecting engineering in Nigeria today, there are ample opportunities to be embraced in the sector, looking at the bright side. Opportunity for innovation, job creation and employment, partnerships with government agencies, sustainable developmen and promoting local content, to mention a few.
However, COREN stated that Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing is essential for rapid and sustained economic growth which will open doors for local content opportunities for a better future and also opportunities for stakeholders, young engineers and young people aimed towards embracing self employment .
A cross-section of the papers discussed at the conference indicates that engineering in Nigeria faced a lot of challenges that has affected the sector .
Moreover with this, there is a need for COREN to developed a frame work and blue prints for indigenous engineers, aimed at empowering reliable and self-sufficient entrepreneurs that can create multiplier effects as well as more economic opportunities to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country .
Investigations has shown that COREN before the engineering assembly, has organized workshops and seminars to ensure that every engineering cadre is included in any decision taken.
The council has provided Nigerian engineers at home and aboard with a huge opportunity to be great engineers that add to the value chain by revamping the economy and returning Nigeria to the path of sustainable development through engineering.
In his welcoming address the President of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Engr. Kashim Ali ,said the 26th Assembly provides a unique opportunity for members of the engineering family and stakeholders to network and reflect on tropical issues impacting practice and the contribution of engineering personnel national development.
Ali declared that the theme for this year’s Assembly is “ Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing in Nigeria:Challenges and Opportunities for a better Future “. This engineering assembly offers us a great opportunity to come up with solutions that will pave way for mutual understanding and the flourishing of entrepreneurship and manufacturing in our country.
The discussion will be based on theme and at the end bring strategies that will developed for the advancement of the Engineering sector,since is the only way Nigeria can attain real growth.
“ During the past few years , COREN has observed the increased rate of collapse of building structures in the country,with the attendant loss of lives and properties “.
According to him investigations carried out on these incidents showed that improper designs , poor designs ,poor quality materials and improper sites practices have been the major causes.” Where professional engineers were found involved, the COREN Tribunal has enforced necessary disciplinary measures.
However we recommend that new legislations are necessary to deal with cases of negligence on the part of developers and quacks who fail to use professionals in the execution of project “.
“ on our part, we have concluded work on the development and publication of the first ‘Nigeria Concrete Mix Design Manual’, this manual is a guide stakeholders on appropriate process for producing good concrete which has been launched “.
He reiterated that the position of Engineering in the nation building in prime ,ignoring the importance of engineering in our quest for development ,especially in nurturing of local engineering expertise,Nigeria faces a lot of risks. Nigeria’s infrastructural gap provides opportunities for indigenous engineering personnel.
“ We share in the enthusiasm of government to build the badly needed infrastructures, as prescription for riding out of the current recession.Council believes in the ability of indigenous engineering personnel to provide sustainable solution in infrastructure development. I therefore appeal to government to engage us because we are brilliant, qualified, competent and patriotic. A loud voice of a few quacks who dominate the space today purely for pecuniary reason should not define us “ ,Ali maintained.
The Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo who was represented by the Minister of Science and Technology DR. Ogbonnaya Onu, said this administration is determined to change things. It is not easy but it has to be done. Because by doing so we can be in a position to creating enough jobs for our engineers and members of the engineering family, either artisans, technician, technologies and craftman.
According to Prof . Osinbanjo “Nigeria can not continue to be a consuming nation alone, Nigerians want to be seen as a producing nation where by we can produce many of the things that we need”.
“I am very happy today that the engineering family is meeting and the most important thing is that the opportunities that was denied for engineers in the past has now been available for the engineers “.
“I want to assure you that so many decisions have been taking, particularly in the science, technology and innovation program which covers the period of 13years, 2017 to 2030 and this is to help us as a nation to plan ahead so that we will not just be looking at short term, but we will be looking at short, medium and Long term to ensure that we can no longer have engineers who are looking for jobs in Nigeria”.
His words: I want to assure you that in 10 to 15years, Nigeria will be looking for engineers, scientists and many other professionals from in and outside Nigeria to come and work here because we won’t be able to have enough.
Consequently, The Chairman of the 26th assembly of Engineering , the Governor of Nassarawa State Umaru Tanko Al-makura in his opening remarks said “Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing in Nigeria : Challenges and Opportunities for a Better Future”saying the choice of the theme is timely and has captured the mood of the nation as the government has called for diversification of the nation’s economy through the entrenchment of entrepreneurship culture and to also boost the manufacturing sector to serve as catalyst for holistic infrastructure and industrial development of the country and to improve entrepreneurship and manufacturing in Nigeria .
“It is my conviction that this occasion will provide stakeholders the desired opportunity to brainstorm on the gamut of issues associated with entire, manufacturing and indeed , construction which is the core mandate of the Engineering profession”.
His words : we expect the participants at this occasion should be able to come up with innovative and workable solutions and provide answers to such questions as ; is the problem bedeviled the Engineering sector that of inefficiency?Is it lack of expertise?Is it a question of integrity,resulting from unethical practices by professionals?
“ it is my belief that at the end of the conference, you would also be able to evaluate the importance role played by the artisans such as mechanics, electricians , plumbers, masons among other who will not want to be called quacks but populate the nooks and crannies of our towns and cities, providing the necessary gap of engineering services to the people.
Al-makura who stated that with the critical role played by these artisans, COREN should consider to be flexible in evolving mechanism such as short -time training , orientation on job enlightened, workshops and seminars which may provide certification,trade placement and be recognized as certain category of members of the Council. And by extension, their activities could be integrated and regulated in the line with best practices at that level.
“This will go a long way in reducing Nigeria from being a dumping ground for all kinds of pseudo engineers as expatriates in Nigeria as well as address the critical challenges affecting the engineering sector .The Governor maintained that issues such as operator error, design failures ,malfunctioning of equipment vis-a-vis quackery in the profession should be critically analysed and workable panacea provided .He said the only way to forestall capital fight and on the other hand and to foreclose the fight of indigenous engineers in search of greener pasture , and to develop a stringent regulatory framework and evolve more attractive conditions of service in order to retain Nigeria Engineers for diligent Engineering services.
He also charged COREN to address the lingering trend of irregular certification ,deficiency in ICT which have continued to affect best practices in the profession, “ I commend COREN that with standing the attainment of academic qualifications,engineering and others are subjected to rigorous professional examination before registration”.
According to him “ this is the only way we can boast of engineers that will be reliable and self – sufficient entrepreneurs. This will create multiplier effects as more economic opportunities such as employment generation will thrive in the sector and by extension boost our Gross Domestic Product( GDP) , in consonance with government policy focus , therefore robust engineering activities will go a long way in addressing the deficient infrastructural facilities as a yardstick for flourishing manufacturing and industrial development in Nigeria “,Al-Makura emphasised .
Similarly, Executive Secretary ,Nigeria Content Development & Monitoring Board ( NBCDMB),Engr. Simbi Wabote in his keynote address commended that COREN as a body has provided Nigeria engineers the assurance and opportunity to practice both at home and aboard as a result of the high standard and international best practices it has maintained in regulating and controlling the training and practice engineering in Nigeria.
Wabote noted that this year’s theme is apt and exceptionally appealing to NCDMB as it captures the philosophy of the Nigeria Content Policy . “This theme centered around entrepreneurship and manufacturing which are some of the key to building growth in our economy and therefore geared towards key national economic development strategy that could lead to the resuscitation and revamping of economy and return Nigeria to the path of sustainable development “.
However, He disclosed that the approach adopted by NCDMB to maximize in -country value addition and force utilization of Nigeria goods and services is “to adopt an all-encompassing vision to be a catalyst for industrialization of Nigeria economy “
and promoting local solution for local problem to meet industry best practice.
“ this requires emergency and development of Nigeria entrepreneurs that will take up the opportunities provided by deliberate shift towards increasing in country value retention. The need for entrepreneurship development, especially in the manufacturing sector, cannot be over emphasised as this plays a prominent role as a positive agent of creating employment and prosperity for Nigeria and a as a prime economy ,”Wabote said .
The Executive Secretary also used the medium to revealed the vision in NCDMB is to achieve 70% in-country value retention from the current 26% within the next 10 years and therein lies the opportunities for engineers and entrepreneurs. Engineering plays a pivotal role in the oil and gas value chain covering , design, manufacturing, project management,construction,maintenance among other.
His words : “the target is to retain $14billion out of the $20 billion yearly spend and create 300,000 direct jobs , covering upstream, midstream and downstream sector with linkage to relevant sectors of the economy “.
“ I called on the engineering community to partner with the board in achieving these initiatives. We need entrepreneurs and investors to key into these opportunities, for these initiatives to become reality , well trained engineering are needed to design ,construct, operate and maintain as applicable. These are fertile ground for young engineers to get exposed to practical aspect of the engineering profession. I must add that as part of our mandate we currently have a database for Nigerians looking for jobs and training opportunities”.
Meanwhile, COREN launched a Produce, Buy and Use Certified Nigeria Engineering Products & Services campaign; and a Nigeria Mix Concrete Design Manual, that will help address the issues of collapsed buildings among others. It is obvious that all the cedres of engineering must take deliberate steps to mobilise their members to register as practicing without registration illegal.
By: Mashe Umaru Gwamna