Becoming President of Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria

By Engr. Charles ‘Yele Akindayomi

I give thanks to Almighty God for his mercies and blessings that permit us to gather here today on this special occasion to witness my investiture as the 17th president of the association for consulting engineering in Nigeria (ACEN). I thank my colleagues in the ACEN Council for selecting me to lead this association for the next two years.
First and foremost, I take this opportunity to express my special appreciation and thank you to Chief Obafemi Olopade OFR for accepting my request to be chairman of this investiture ceremony and thank you to Chief (Arc) Olufemi Majekodunmi PPNIA for accepting to deliver the Guest Lecture, and Mr Yinka Akinkugbe who is our Master of Ceremony for this occasion.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the Executive State Governors and their Representatives who are here with us today for putting their busy schedules on hold and sharing this valuable time with us.

Please allow me to also record my appreciation to captains of industries, leaders of Professional and Trade Associations, Chairmen & CEOs of Banks and Financial institutions, members of the Metropolitan Club, Lagos, members of CEP21 of the LBS Alumni Association, Project Owners and contractors in the Built and infrastructural sectors, my friends, my wife, my family and my relatives. Your presence here marks your commitment and continuing support for me and this Association.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the immediate past president Engr. Suleiman Adamu FNSE, who was appointed Hon. Minister of Water Resources just before he started his tenure as President of ACEN. However, because of his busy schedule as Hon. Minister, I had to act as standby to him, enduring his various instruction sand I am happy I carried them out dutifully. Dear IPP, I thank you for your valuable thoughts and insights that you brought to ACEN.

My most precious thank you also goes to my Engineering Family comprising the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria(COREN), Nigerian Society of Engineers, Technologists & Craftsmen, former Presidents and members of ACEN, and to all present who have spared their precious time and travelled far and near to support ACEN and to engage with us.

On behalf of ACEN, we are delighted and most honoured to have all of you here today to support us.

Our Government must fully engage our consulting engineering firms in all Building and Infrastructural developments in this country, while also embarking on industrialization to produce small-scale products and tools for our domestic consumption.

Engineering has been and is still the forerunner for the development and progress of any society. Engineering is involved in solving the real-world problems of any society, as opposed to science, which is led by curiosity and research. Although, there are many disciplines and diverse specialisations of engineering, but they all create solutions for different areas of human life. Therefore, the engineer serves a very crucial social role in the society.

The Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria, ACEN was founded in 1971 and registered in 1979. ACEN is a body of registered, independent, private, professional consulting engineering firms and is the voice for the profession in Nigeria. The vision of our founding fathers was to create an environment for the group of consulting engineers to achieve a global standard while taking into consideration our local conditions and constraints.

ACEN strategic objectives are to promote the development of a viable consulting engineering industry; in addition, enhance the image of its practitioners and be the authority on issues relating to consulting engineering business practices.

ACEN is affiliated with the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) which is an international standards organization for consulting engineering and construction. FIDIC is also the global voice for consulting engineers worldwide.
ACEN now comprises of over 300-member firms in the 6 geo-political zones in the country, employing over 9000 employees. Membership is only open to companies that have proven experience, technical competencies and are committed to abiding by the conditions of the Association.

We have evolved from the early 1960s and 1970s when majority of the owners of consulting companies that make up ACEN were at the time working under colonial and expatriate consulting engineering companies in the country. These engineers who are now leaders are involved in handling various buildings and infrastructural projects all over the country. Our members have performed exceptionally well where they were given the opportunity to participate in construction projects such as: Roads and Bridges, Airports, Erosion & Flood Control, Buildings & Housing Estates, Solar and Wind Energy Generation, Water Resources & Sanitation, Information Technology, Telecommunications and Power Supply. Of course, there are other areas we are yet to cover, but be rest assured that as time goes on, we shall make inroads into these areas.

Our area of challenges remains the government who still depend on foreign consultants due to the conditions tied to foreign funded loan packages. We call on government to give our consulting engineering firms their due place either alone or in collaboration with foreign consultants in the built environment and infrastructure sectors.

Another area of concern is that, some of our private sector clients insist on using the outdated Federal Government Scale of Fees which was issued in 1996 rather than the COREN recommended hourly rates issued in 2015 which are charges for various cadres of engineering personnel for consultancy services.

The Federal Government on 2nd February 2018 issued an Executive order outlining a procedure for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology. This is a bold and laudable effort of government to address the anomaly whereby Nigerian professionals are less favored in the award of contracts to the advantage of foreign consultants and contractors. This order is yet to be tested and if properly implemented, it will eliminate one of our major grouse with government in the award of contracts.

The Ministries, Departments and Agencies will still oversee compliance with the requirements of this Executive Order. What is loosely defined is the authority responsible for monitoring and ensuring implementation. However, the document stated that violations for non-compliance with the Executive Order will be dealt with as stipulated by the Public Service Rules and laws governing Public Procurement.
Further work is necessary to clarify and harmonize some sections of the document. The ultimate wish of the professionals is for the Executive order to be fine-tuned and turned into Law by the National Assembly.

My focus will be to get ACEN to be an adviser and collaborator to our government in the areas of government projects procurement. We shall partner with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to get our input during selection of consulting engineers for government project procurement. We shall advocate for strong government support for our consulting engineering industry, while ensuring that only ACEN registered consultants are used through the enforcement of the regulatory policies of the COREN Act.

We shall motivate the State Governments to minimize the use of their in-house government engineering units, by contracting out project works to independent privately owned consulting engineering firms.

We intend to collaborate with the National Assembly, COREN and NSE since we are all INTERDEPENDENT. It is impossible to live without serving others, as it would be to live, if others were not constantly serving us. Like Martin Rutte said, and I quote “You’ve got to do it by yourself, and you can’t do it alone”.

We therefore are in support of the current revision of the COREN Act which seeks to properly define the qualification, experience for registration, regulation and sanctions in the practice of engineering. The proposed revision has passed through the Second reading and an open hearing of all stakeholders at the House of Representatives. When passed, it will curb quackery and the use of unqualified consulting engineers and regulate the use of foreign consultants in the country.

A country without any form of industrialization will not have an economy that is sustainable, and her strategies and policies will be under constant barrage from external sources. Whilst I acknowledge that government has embarked on industrialization up to early 1980s, but it did not work out as desired. But this is the only way to go in developing the technological awareness and ability of her citizens to develop the local economy.

The time is now right for our government to set up, support and develop light industries to produce household items such as toothpicks, frying pans, screw drivers and machine tools for agricultural use. This will mop-up all our graduates and unemployed engineering personnel. This move will also prevent our graduate engineers from seeking employment in insurance, banking, accounting and other industries.

We would as part of our program advocate and lobby our government to embark on small-scale industries that is all-inclusive of our citizens to generate a new social economy that will contribute to our country’s GDP.

We realized that sustaining our Association for the future will involve additional strategies rather than concentrating on the current needs of our members. ACEN Foundation was then formed in November 2015.

The ACEN Foundation is an investment for sustaining our programs, so that future generation of engineers will have the means to advance our Association. It is one of the most important investments that enables us to be prepared for whatever the future brings.

It will be a lasting entity that will provide long term needed funds to support the Association’s programs.

We will like to appreciate and thank those that have donated to the Foundation today and I pray that God will continue to replenish your pockets.

I will like to thank all members of the Investiture committee and most especially Engr. Kunle Ogunbayo FNSE who is the Chairman of this committee. They worked tirelessly in their planning to ensure a successful outcome. Their enthusiasm and unwavering support has made this event a reality and success.

My special thanks goes to my wife who has shown understanding, support and been my sounding board to various ideas because of the love that we share which has helped us derive happiness and progress in our lives. I thank my children for their support and my father for his sponsorship and advise in making me who I am today.
I will like to thank the Directors and members of CA Consultants Ltd for their continuing financial support and encouragement to take up the Leadership of this Association.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all members of ACEN for their support and I want them to fully participate in the Association activities and programs.

In Conclusion I would like to say that Engineering is a great profession, anything the engineer thinks in his head, he can create it in physical form. We can only create the country of our dreams when we give our Nigerian engineers the space to create solutions for different areas of our human life

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