WFEO 2017 held in Rome may have come and gone, and the biggest winner is Engr Ifedayo Akintude who remains a shining example even at ripe age as he demonstrated the Nigerian Spirit in him during the recent Event organised in his Honour in Ibadan to celebrate his winning of WFEO Medal of Excellence Award: The highest in Engineering World.
For the many younger generation and those who only started following the NSE activities in the 2000s, the name Engr Ife Akintunde may not ring bell much beyond being a former president of NSE and this is understandable. However if they are looking for a hero who identified with and is still identifying, and will always identify with their cause; if they are looking for Nigerian engineering’s version of “Wole Soyinka,” then they will have to beam their searchlight in direction of Oyo state at no other than Engr Ifedayo Akintunde the winner of the 2017 WFEO Medal for Engineering Excellence.
At 84, he continues to radiate that sharpness and love for the profession such that he looked back into the time, while speaking at the event organised in his honour, by the Nigerian Society of Engineers in Ibadan, passed a strongly worded verdict on the Nigerian government.
He said: “As for the government the popularly held view that the Nigerian Engineer is incompetent has received international condemnation. This award is a positive proof that the Nigerian Engineer is qualified, competent and responsible within his scope of experience to be given national projects. The excuse that he is incompetent and irresponsible is a ruse.“
The first presentation of the WFEO Medal of Engineering Excellence was made in September 1989 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the 12th General Assembly of WFEO. The Medal is presented “biennially hereafter, helping direct World attention to the practice, theory and public contributions of engineering.
“The recipient is chosen based on his or her noteworthy contributions to the practice, theory, or public status of engineering. Selection also takes into consideration the appreciable experience in the profession, international standing as well as significant educational accomplishments.”
Engr Ifedayo Akintunde was declared the worthy winner of the 2017 edition. thus becoming the first Nigerian, and African to be so conferred.
WFEO “Medal of Engineering Excellence “ is the highest Award in Engineering, outside the academic degrees, although many who have attained the utmost in academic still strive to get it.
Responding during the luncheon which has outgoing President Otis Anyaeji leading the NSE delegation in presence of other eminent personalities in Ibadan, Engr Akintunde in humility and candour refused to take credit for the achievement; but instead directed it entirely at three categories of the society. He insisted that he has only been “called upon to receive it on behalf of the real winners!” Such is the magnanimity and humility of the man who is vastly respected both within the country and the world of engineering.
In his word:
“I must make clear the medal is not for Engr Ifedayo Akintunde per se, Engr Ifedayo Akintunde has only been called upon to receive it on behalf of the real winners. There are three Winners, namely:
- All members of Engineering profession in Nigeria
- The Nigerian Society of Engineers,
- The government and people of Nigerian”
He went on to explain his reasons for the dedication, not leaving out the budding and aspiring young engineers:
To the Nigerian Engineering professionals of all categories:
“The award is encouraging Nigerian Engineers that their choice of the profession is not a mistake. They have waited for concrete encouragement in the practice of the profession, and seeing none, they have started to be disenchanted. The less resolved ones have turned to other professions. Some of the potential engineering students have refused to take on engineering courses, but most enroll for medicine, accounting and Law etc. This is to tell such students that the future is not bleak for engineering.”
To the Nigerian Society of Engineers,
“The award is a clear vindication that the position of the society has taken on international issues is correct.”
To the Government and the People of Nigeria, he declared:
“The popularly held view that the Nigerian Engineer is incompetent has received international condemnation!”
“This award is a positive prove that the Nigerian Engineer is qualified, competent and responsible within his scope of experience to be given national projects. The excuse that he is incompetent and irresponsible is a ruse. This award shows that the Nigerian engineer is in no way inferior to his counterparts all over the world”
However, he gave Nigerians their due when place an exemption that “intelligent Nigerians have never believed this lie, the government have always used it as excuse to award projects to foreigners.”
He gave some scenarios to back his words:
- If the Nigerian engineer is incompetent compare with his counterparts, all over the world, then all other Nigerian professionals, doctors, accountants, lawyers, etc. are equally incompetent compare with the respective counterparts since all Nigerians share the same environmental characteristics;
- If the assertion (above) is true it follows that Nigerian professionals of all disciplines are functioning below their international expectation;
- Since it is well known that the only best students in graduating from secondary schools are fit for engineering courses, it would be difficult to accept that the once best student will on graduating turn to poor professional;
- Since it is common knowledge that the Nigerians who study engineering abroad usually measure up to the and quite often exceed the performance level of their international classmates it will be hard to explain why these international classmates and juniors now come to Nigeria to become better performers. Why does the Nigerian governments not appoint foreigners to run civil services, the military, the government and the politics of the country?
“Ladies and gentlemen, the award of this medal is a message to the Nigerian Government from the world that the Nigerian engineer deserves better deal in his own country!” He concluded.
Other Awards issued in Rome are:
WFEO Medal of Excellence in Engineering Education won by Dr. B.V.A. Rao from India.
The recipient is chosen based on his or her noteworthy contributions to the improvement of engineering education. Special consideration is also given to outstanding services rendered by educators to engineering educational institutions, and to those involved in the education of engineers. Selection also takes into account appreciable experience in the profession as well as significant educational accomplishments.
The Hassib J. Sabbagh Award for Engineering Construction Excellence: Won by The Nacala Corridor Project
The purpose of this Award is to direct world attention to the role of engineering in sustainable development. The Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), under the leadership of late Hassib J. Sabbagh, gave the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) responsibility for organizing the Hassib J. Sabbagh Award for Engineering Construction Excellence.
The Nacala Corridor Project was the biggest railway contract in the last 50 years in Africa with enormous impact in the Eastern Africa Region. With VALE, the 2nd Biggest Mining in the world as client, Mota-Engil has worked with the most demanding quality standards, being recognized by the customer for the level of quality and safety. The completion of the project on time, the excellence of the service gave the opportunity to the customer to deliver the maintenance contract and further new contracts such as in Brazil and Mozambique.
Who is Engr Ifedayo Akintunde?
Engr. Ifedayo Akintunde is a Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, the British Institute of Civil Engineers, the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Member of the American Society of Engineers. He is quoted in at least four World “Who’s Whos”.
He practiced in the UK and later spent 13 years in the Ministry of Works and Transport Western Region of Nigeria until 1974. He was Chief Engineer in Chief L.A.O. Banjoko & Co., then a leading indigenous Civil Engineering Construction Company 1974 – 1976. He later founded Profen Consultants in 1976 of which he is Chief Executive Officer till today. He was President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers 1978 – 1988.
He is also a former Vice President of WFEO (1991–2003) to which he made outstanding and fundamental contributions, including but not limited to the revision of the WFEO constitution, drafting of the WFEO Code of Environmental Engineering Practice, the Assistant Editor of the WFEO Magazine and the Chairman of the Election Committee for many years. He was a winner of the Ibadan Diocesan Anglican 2007 Merit Award.
He is one of the few Engineers from Nigeria listed in the edition of the American Association of Engineering Societies’ Who is who in Engineering.
Engr. Ife Akintunde left such indelible legacies as the President of NSE such that the Outgoing President Otis Anyaeji noted in one of his eulogies of the Global Engineering Legend:
“..years ago, while discussing the contributions of Engr. Ifedayo Akintunde FNSE,FICE to the advancement of our profession, I did say: “…Hence it can be said that he divided in his own unique way, the history of the Nigerian Society of Engineers into two: before Akintunde,and after Akintunde…”
This statement was made in the context of his extending the role of NSE Presidency to pastoral dimensions, by being constantly on the move, and visiting ALL branches of NSE of his era. It was during his tenure that the Society started paying serious attention to legislations, policies, codes and standards.
“Engr. Akintunde it was that engineered the “National Construction Policy”; he initiated the moves that led to the amendment of Section 137 of CAMA Decree No.1 of 1990 to include ‘engineer’ in the statutory definition of ‘valuer’. On Codes & Standards, the first NSE engineering standards viz (i) Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and (ii) Standard for Fire Doors and Windows, were produced during his presidency. His struggle for Constitutional Provision for Engineering, Science & Technology was highly successful that the 1988 Constituent Assembly adopted the position he projected as the Science & Technology Objectives of the Draft 1989 Constitution of the Federal Republic. The first and only time NSE practised strategic planning was when Engr. Akintunde constituted the committee for NSE 30 YEARS AHEAD.
“The Society is still operating on the principles derived from the deliverables of the work of that committee. The NSE Group Personal Accident Insurance was introduced by President Akintunde.
“In his memorandum to President Ibrahim Babangida CFR, titled “Engineering of Nigeria’s Development Projects by Nigerian Engineers in Nigeria”, Engr. Akintunde stated clearly that he was ready to guarantee the success of any project engineering challenge given to Nigerian Engineering firms. He further asserted that he was prepared to pay the supreme penalty in event of failure. Colleagues these are just chips off the monuments of achievements and accomplishments of the man who moved on to become Vice President of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations the only Nigerian to occupy that position so far. Fellow of NSE. Fellow of ICE, Fellow of NICE, Fellow of Academy of Engineering. We continue to celebrate Ifedayo Akintunde M. Sc(Geotechnical),M. Sc(Environmental)”
Here is a man who spend many of his early years in passionate defending and representing Nigerian engineers and engineering values, home and abroad. He was fearless and courageous, yet diplomatic when speaking on the need to offer engineers a better deal in the polity.
It was noteworthy that when the Federal Government under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida decided to constitute the National Brain-drain Commission in a bid to stem the tide of migration of the best of the Nigerian professionals abroad, Engr Ife Akintunde was the only engineer on the list that offered far reaching recommendations to the Federal Government. Others are: Professor O. Ibidapo Obe (Chairman), Professor A. O. Falase (Member), Professor, Awele Maduemezia (Member), Prof. Segun Adesina (Member), Prof. A. G. Onokerhorare (Member), Ms Nuratu Jimoh (Member), Engr. Ife Akintunde (Member), Dr. M.M. Tukur (Member), Prof. Abubakar Gwandu (Sec.)
Some of their recommendations in the 100 pages report which are still in front burner today and very relevant in tackling the challenges are (excerpt):
- Special allowance should be paid in additional as percentage of basic salaries to medical doctors, other pertinent medical professionals, engineers, scientists, other professionals as follows: hazards/danger allowance (radiologists, microbiologists, psychiatrists), pilots, engineers, other professionals on construction, maintenance and operations—five percent, site allowance for all professionals working on sites—twenty per cent, inducement allowance (personnel in difficult specialities, remote and rural areas)—10%.
- The entire public sector is entrapped within a salary structure that is uniform rigid and fairly inflexible,…. (A) Each professional group should run a separate salary structure, e.g. MSS for medical profession, ESS for engineers, USS for universities, PSS for polytechnics, etc. (B) There should be regular salary adjustments for all workers in the country to reflect price conditions. The rate of adjustment should be agreed after a tripartite discussion among the government, the private sector and workers’ representatives and should be subject to the level of productivity.
- Government should seek to enhance the positive contributions of non-resident Nigerian through human capital exports to the overall benefit of the national economy. (A) A commission for non-resident Nigerians (CNRN) to: provide management information on national manpower outflow (databank on skills); facilitate income to the economy through capital expatriation and encourage inflow of non-resident investment capital; incorporate efficient information dissemination of national projects to non-resident citizens through our foreign missions; encourage participation in the formation and execution of national projects by non-resident citizens; assist in minimizing non-resident re-entry problems through customs, immigration and entrepreneurial support.
- (A) Government must encourage the setting up of factories for the manufacturing of basic equipment for research and hospital care and for basic drugs. (B) Factories should be encouraged to fabricate spare parts for existing machinery and equipment through in-house machine shops so that their use can be prolonged. (C) Establishment of private sector machine tools shops should be encouraged. (D) The training of maintenance technicians should be stepped up in colleges of technology and polytechnics.
- And more…
With his kind of achievements, and his track records, foresight and proven leadership legacies, and many more not listed here, it is fitting to congratulate Engr Ifedayo Akintunde the worthy winner of the WFEO Medal of Excellence. Any wonder why I thus regarded this Icon of Engineering as the Nigerian Engineering Version of Wole Soyinka. His legacies and many others truly should be in record book for all engineers to access.
Written by Isqil Najim ( Follow @isqilnajim on twitter ) contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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