Promoting Strategic Alliance Among Engineering Professionals: Amended COREN Act by Engr. Kashim Ali

A Keynote Address presented at at the 2019 COREN Engineering Assembly by Engr. Kashim Abdul Ali, FNSE, FAEng, FSESN, FAETDEW, NPoM, mni


I feel very delighted and honoured to be invited to give this Keynote Address at this auspicious occasion of the 2019 Engineering Assembly of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). My profound gratitude to the leadership of Council for sustaining the tempo of this flagship event, which has endured over the years, and served as a melting pot for civilised fellowship amongst engineering practitioners.

The theme, ‘Strategic Alliance Among Engineering Professionals for Enhanced Opportunities’ is surely apt going by the renewed attention engineering practice is garnering presently, as exemplified by the proclamation of the Executive Order nr. 5; and the Amendment of the COREN Act.  A strategic deployment of these instruments could change the face of engineering practice in our dear country for good. I seek to briefly point us to how this can be achieved in the course of this presentation. Let’s however start with some important background information.

History of Engineering Practice in Nigeria

The practice of engineering began in Nigeria between 1855 -1889 (more than 70 years before independence), with construction of roads, housing projects, port facilities and waterworks in Lagos by expatriate engineers1. The first engineering consultancy firm, Messrs. Shelford Consulting Engineers started practicing in Nigeria earlier than 18981.

Herbert Heelas Macauley who was elected an Associate Member of the British Institution of Civil Engineers in December 1893, was the first Nigerian and most probably the first in the whole of black Africa to qualify as a professional engineer1.

The first generation of Nigerian graduate civil engineers are:

  • George Debayo Agbedi – B.Sc (1911) from Birmingham University;
  • Ishola Phillips – B.Sc 1st Class Honours (1930) Bristol University;
  • Robert Starveley – graduated in 1934;
  • Adekunle Coker – graduated in 1935;
  • Ekundayo Ajayi – Glasgow University in 1936; and
  • Adeniyi Williams – Birmingham University in 1936.

During the colonial era (before 1960), most Nigerian engineers were trained in the United Kingdom, but the first Nigerian graduate electrical engineer Oladotun Coker, trained in the USA.

Early in the 20th century the Public Works Department Technical School was established in Lagos to give three-year training to students after secondary school to produce technicians. The Higher College Yaba was established in 1933 – 34 to train very good students from the best secondary schools where science subjects were well taught, first for two years up to the London Intermediate level, followed by another two-year course in engineering to produce “African” or “Assistant” Engineers who were placed on salaries 31 % lower than the salary of Nigerian graduate engineers trained abroad1. A few of the products of the PWD Technical School and several students of Yaba Higher College before or after completing the college diploma programme had scholarship to go abroad to earn university degrees and industrial experience to become professional engineers.

The University College Ibadan, which was established in 1948 admitted students who had completed secondary school into the first two years of engineering degree programmes after which students who performed satisfactorily were awarded intermediate B.Sc. and admitted to British Universities to complete the remaining three years of the engineering degree programme2.

The Nigerian College Zaria which ran engineering programmes, was established in 1955 and five sets of students graduated from there with B.Sc. (London) External degree from 1960 – 19643.

A few years after Nigeria gained independence, in 1960, four universities were established, and they ran engineering programmes. The first set of students to be awarded Nigerian university degrees in engineering graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1965. Several more universities were established in the 1970s and the decades that followed. There are currently 153 universities in Nigeria with 40 owned by the Federal Government, 45 by State Governments and 68 privately owned.  52 of them have COREN accreditation for their engineering programmes.

There are 70 polytechnics, 27 of them owned by the Federal Government including the Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas and the Nigerian Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies; and 43 owned by State Governments. Accreditation is outsourced to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two institutions.

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