Investiture Speech of Engr. Prof. Fola Lasisi, FAEng, FNSE, FASCE, FNIAE, FNIM as the 10th President of the Academy

As engineers, we were going to be in a position to change the world - not just study it. Henry Petroski

I feel greatly privileged to be addressing this august assembly as the tenth President of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. I want to thank God Almighty for this day as I am given the leadership of our great Academy for this unique opportunity to serve the Engineering Profession.

I am very happy to join our Immediate Past President, Engr. J. Olu. Maduka, in welcoming the distinguished guests and thanking all of our honored colleagues, in our Academy, who have given me this honour and the challenge of leadership to move the Academy forward.

I want to specially welcome our honoured guests: the Hon. Minister of Communications, Barr. Dr. Bayo Shittu, the Hon. Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, the Founder and Proprietor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Judge Prince Bola Ajibola. Also, the Presidents and officers of other Academies and professional bodies, the Academy of Science, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN). I am happy to have with us my employers of old, who are here with us from Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Uyo, and Crescent University. The Pro Chancellor of Great IFE, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi and the Vice Chancellors of all the three universities are here with us. I must remember my foundation institution, the Yaba Technical Institute (now Yaba College of Technology). The Chairman of Council, the Rector and the President of the Alumni Association are here for which I am most grateful.

I am short of words to appreciate the love I have been lucky to have been bestowed by my family, nuclear and extended. My dear wife, of almost 50years, Monica an American has stayed here while most foreigners abandoned their husbands for greener pastures. I want to specially thank her for all she has done and continue to do for me and our children. My mentors are many. In fairness, I must recognize some of them, starting with Engr. E. C. N. Agbasi, Principal; Mr. Awokoya, my Mathematics teacher and Mr. Juan Davis, my Physics teacher at Yaba; Professors Fred H. Rhodes, Jr. and Allan H. Mattock at the University of Washington in Seattle; Professors Calvin O. Cramer and Robert D. Cook of University of Wisconsin in Madison. At work, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), the following people encouraged me to remain in academia when I felt I needed to be in the design practice of my profession; Professors H. A. Oluwasanmi, A. Babs Fafunwa, Anthony A. Adegbola, S. A. Sanni and G. A. Makanjuola. I am most grateful to ALL OF THEM.

This assignment is another reason I am grateful to many people who have recognised my capabilities and promoting to give me a life of fulfillment without much maneuvering as I have in many cases been given highly sought appointments without lobbing or applying for them. I was given an appointment as a lecturer, 49 years ago without an application. It was another surprise to me to be appointed a Vice Chancellor, 27 years ago, the same way. Now this, that started two years ago, when I was nominated, without my knowledge and appointed, the Vice President of this Academy. As before, I pledge to do my very best, the Almighty helping me.

Today is another investiture ceremony to mark the smooth change of the leadership of the Academy. I hereby recognize and appreciate all Fellows of our Academy who are here today. The founding leaders, starting with Emeritus Professor I. O. Oladapo, who are no more with us, including Engr. A. O. Faluyi and Emeritus Professor V. O. S. Olunloyo, all past presidents, are saluted for their vision and commitment. All the other past presidents starting with Engr. V. I. Maduka, the current Chairman of the Board of Trustee of our Academy, are all recognized for their continued great leadership in promoting excellence in our Academy.

It is thus useful to understand why we have this unique group by answering the following three questions:

1Why an Academy of Engineering and who are we?

2What has the Academy been doing in the last twenty years?

3Where is this Academy headed, in the next two years?

Firstly, Academies exist all over the world where the mission and vision statements clearly depict bodies that promote at the highest level, the relevance of the implied professional group through advocacy, based on the experience, knowledge, vision and research findings of these acknowledged leaders of the specific profession. Thus the Academy consists of a small number of highly successful academics and practitioners in the field who have been recommended by existing fellows.

The mission statement of Nigeria Academic of Engineering:

“To provide input and leadership in national technological issues and policies at the highest possible level, through contributions to Science, Engineering and Technology ideas in Nigeria and, by extension, globally.”

Secondly, the listing of the most critical activities of the Academy is provided in the brochure. The Nigerian Academy of Engineering has over the years been able to show some of the operations to promote the usefulness of Engineering and Technology as the true foundations for the development of our dear country. In recent times, the Immediate Past President has listed the achievement of Academy to include Engineering education at all levels, cooperation with other prominent Academy and the need to link up more effectively with the Federal Government which led to the decision to have the President of Nigeria as the Grand Patron of the Academy in 2017.

Finally, for the next two years, the focus of the activities of our Academy will take off with a RETREAT by the new council to take the proposals below and expand their effectiveness:

The immediate Past President has put up a programme for the development of a Technology village, through a committee I chaired. For true continuity, this will take off in my term.
The celebration of the Twentieth year of the Academy when we hope to highlight the activities of the Academy so far and the way forward in the next five years.
Cooperation with all the stakeholders in Engineering, such as the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria (ACEN), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), etc.

Encouraging more cooperation with international national Academies to focus the three technological challenges facing our nation, which are: Energy, Infrastructure and Food Security. Quality of Engineering education is at the centre of all these.
The strategic plan that is under development will be used to determine short term, medium term and long term programmes of the Academy.

I want to congratulate the new fellows, just inducted. I wish to encourage them to be ready to serve the Academy by making themselves available whenever they are called upon to serve the Academy in committees and other critical collective assignments. It is true selfless service we can in reality make a difference. The Nigerian Academy of Engineering is ready to continue the pursuit of the great commendable dreams of our founding fathers.

I thank everyone for your love, attention and patience.

Engr. Prof. Fola LASISI

President, Nigerian Academy of Engineering

Thursday, June 21, 2018.


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