Let me start with this saying “if a doctor makes a mistake, it might cost the life of just one person but if an engineer makes a mistake, it will cost the life of many people”, I mean no disrespect to the medical profession.
I am from a developing country that is in dire need of infrastructural and technological development. When it comes to these two important sectors which are necessary for the growth of any developing nation, we can only look in the direction of one profession – the Engineering profession.
The importance of this profession in a nation cannot be over-emphasized (especially in a developing one such as Nigeria). This nation has over 20 institutions that offer civil engineering as a course of study, and it also produces 2000+ graduates from these institutions yearly. These graduates who have struggled for 4 years or more in the higher institutions to obtain a degree in engineering would wake to a sad state that they cannot practice what their hearts beats for simply because:
The government does not believe that the Nigerian engineer who knows his/her country very well can perform if given the job (mostly for political reasons) so they look for foreigners – they call expatriates;
- Their career has been taken over by quacks; and
- The laws that have been made for the safe practice of the engineering profession are not being implemented.
For instance, the issue of building collapse – a menace in the present day Nigeria. The collapse of buildings is now a monthly issue that even the media is tired of reporting. The main issue of building collapse is quackery. These buildings collapse and innocent citizens (victims) lose their lives. If a Nigerian civil engineer is involved in the building construction process, steps will be taken from the design, construction to completion phase to avoid this sad ordeal – building collapse.
The government should be strict on this and make laws that for any structure to be planned, every plant to be operated or serviced, every electronic device or power system, a Nigerian engineer of the corresponding field must be involved and present. The Council for the regulation of engineering in Nigeria (COREN) should also rise to the occasion and enforce the laws through the various branches of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
I know of countries where an individual cannot change a light bulb without the notice of the appropriate authority – the electrical department. I also read about a young Nigerian engineer by the name SILAS ADEKUNLE who works with apple inc., he is the highest paid robotics engineer in the world. I believe his dreams would have been forgotten if he had been in this country because the government believes in foreigners – expatriates.
At this point in time, it can be said that the Nigerian Engineering sector is in a state of emergency. Although it is not too late to resuscitate it if the government of the Federal republic of Nigeria believes in its indigenous Engineers.
DEDE KENIGHENI SOKARI is the National Coordinator, NICE-SA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org