Expert Debunks Allegation Of Non-Qualification Of Nigerian Engineers

The former CEO/Managing Director of Costain West Africa and founder of Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE), Newton Jibunoh, has stated that he will not accept the claims that Nigerian engineers are not capable of handling certain project, because Nigerians excel in all the engineering schools all over the world.

Jibunoh who spoke in an exclusive interview with Independent explained that it is a psychological thing as he grew up in the country to see second hand vehicles being advertised for sale and tagged: ‘driven by European’. He noted that a Nigerian looking for second hand car to buy will be happier when he is buying a car driven by the White.

The same mentality, he said, goes for construction works. People, he said, are unnecessarily comfortable when the jobs are given to Europeans or any foreign company.

“I still cannot understand it, I fought it in my system, I managed to brace the whole thing and like I said, I rose to the top. I was the first Nigeria to be head of a major construction company in Nigeria. A lot of managing directors of other construction companies were campaigning that Costain was gone because it is now a Nigerian that is heading it. Fortunately for me, not everybody bought it because some people knew my person and worth.

“I inherited 28 expatriate as the managing director, the only thing I did was to reduce the expatriate quota to 12 by training Nigerians to take over from them and it worked, just within three years. Believe you me, those Nigerians did not disappoint me. This made the expatriate community very uncomfortable because they now see Nigerians doing the works that they were doing.”

The building engineer explained that as the CEO of Costain, they built Chevron Quarters at Lekki, Lagos, a project they almost lost because, the company was now being headed by a Black man.

According to the environmentalist, though they won Chevron contract, there were some other projects, which they lost just because people did not trust the company anymore.

“I wouldn’t know if I was at the right place at the right time, because when I hear my other colleagues talk about issues like this, I don’t know what to say because I benefited and I am a product of Nigerian engineers. When I was working, an expatriate might not be doing well in a particular project and they will withdraw him and send me there to replace him. Like the bridge I built in Mubi, Adamawa State, Northeast Nigeria, the expatriates refused to go and I volunteered.

written By Nkasiobi Oluikpe


  1. God bless you, Jibunoh. It is possible they had the experience of employing some incompetent Nigerian Engineers on the basis of such sentiments as Federal Character, Catchment Area, North-South Dichotomy, Political Connection, Man Know Man, etc; only for such persons to prove incapable to live upto their professional calling. They then used the result of their own failure to label all Nigerian Engineers as incapable. How do they expect to qualify people on sentiment and get them to deliver on competence? I still maintain that they are acting in ignorance. The professional responsibility of Engineers is Development of Technology. An Engineer may establish how to make television; after proving such technology with a working model, a Technologist takes it over from there. Atlast, it may be a lay person or an illiterate that will finally use it. I have had opportunity to analyze military vehicles and equipment where my predictions of possible draw-backs were corroborated by those using them in the field.


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