INVESTITURE SPEECH DELIVERED BY ENGR. BABAGANA MOHAMMED, FNSE THE 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS ON 11TH JANUARY, 2020 AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA
Greetings – Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, With gratitude to Almighty Allah for witnessing this historic day in my life, a heart filled with joy and a sense of humility, I welcome you all to this occasion of my investiture as the 32nd President of the Great and Honourable Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
I must at this juncture pay due respect to my predecessors – Past Presidents of this honourable Society, some of whom are sitting here today – for the great work that each of you has done to bring this Society to the height it has attained today, sixty-one years after its establishment. I salute you all, Sirs. Today, as I take my oath of office, I make a commitment to continue to uphold the ideals for which the Society was established.
As they say, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. I know that the work ahead is enormous and I am prepared for it. However, I shall continue to count on your wise counsel, support and encouragement so that, together, we can move the Society to the altitudes that we all desire.
Preamble – Engineers have the primary responsibility of building nations by tackling complex national development problems. They design, plan and supervise construction of buildings, roads, dams, bridges, railways and transit systems, telecommunications, power plants, ports, industries and many more. Indeed, Engineering is life. There is hardly any country in the world that has developed without Engineering and the ingenuity of Engineers.
The newly industrialized countries of Asia including Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea utilized their local Engineering capabilities for their rapid industrial and economic development. Unfortunately, Nigeria over the years has demonstrated preference for foreign Engineers to deliver the nation’s infrastructure development at intolerably huge costs to the nation. Only Nigerian Engineers and other Nigerian professionals can passionately develop the country with patriotism.
In consideration of the great importance of Engineering to societal development globally, Nigerian Engineers must get actively involved in Nigeria’s economic development programs if the nation has to develop sustainably. The planned activities of the Nigerian Society of Engineers during my tenure are predicated on the Mission Statements of the Society which are:
The Nigerian Society of Engineers is dedicated to the provision of quality services aimed at enhancing professional competence and development of its members at all times.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers is also committed to focus on collaboration with, influencing and providing quality advice to the various arms of Government, Industry, Commerce, the Academia and the Society at large for the purpose of upliftment of the Country as a whole
The Nigerian Society of Engineers shall make meaningful contributions to the advancement of technology worldwide Under our leadership for the next two years, the Society will undertake the
following major activities:
Preparation of 5 Year Strategic Development Master Plan – Every sustainable corporate development is anchored on strategic development plan. NSE as a professional organization must as of necessity operate on sound long-term Strategic Development Master Plan from which every President of the Society derives his or her short – term program approved by Council. Our immediate task is to produce a 5 year rolling strategic development plan for the Society.
Innovation Management – If NSE is to make significant contributions to the advancement of technology worldwide and be part of the actualization of the Federal Government’s Science, Technology and Innovation Road Map 2030, it must be able to manage the innovation capacities of its members well through:
i. Annual Young Engineers Innovation Summit – to identify innovation potentials of our young engineers and encourage entrepreneurship and creation of start-up companies
ii. Establishment of Enterprise Development Advisory Desk for Young Engineers
iii. Creation of Research and Innovation Platform (for reporting In-Country innovative advanced research results and other innovation works)
iv. Research Collaboration with Universities and Research Institutes (NSE to identify critical national engineering problems and collaborate with Universities and Research Institutes which have demonstrated capacities and Centres of Excellence in the related field to find solutions) Advocacy for Commercialization of Members’ Innovative Engineering Projects in Collaboration with SMEDAN, BOI and Other Enterprise Development Agencies – The Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has promised to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty within ten years. Nigerian Engineers have to be major stakeholders in this project by massively creating jobs and employment opportunities for Nigerians. Nigerian Engineers have the capacity to create jobs and employment for the nation. We will encourage and support engineers with innovative ideas and projects with high commercialization potentials to turn them into enterprises and startup industries to grow the national economy.
We will operationalize our existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bank of Industry (BOI) and reach out in the coming weeks to other Enterprise Development Agencies for cooperation.
Advocacy and Commissioned Studies for Establishment of Regional Innovation Hubs and Industrial Parks – NSE will commission Study Groups to identify unique comparative advantages of States and advocate for synergy through collaboration among government agencies, the academia and industry in the regions to establish regional innovation hubs and industrial parks Regional Economic Development Summits – The economic development potentials in every region and every State of the Federation are enormous.
Unfortunately, most of these resources are not being harnessed for sustainable national development because of over dependence on oil revenue. NSE will lead strong advocacy platforms/programs for collaboration among government, tertiary institutions and private sector operators in each region through stakeholders’ summits and town hall meetings.
Establishment of Study Groups to Carry out Holistic Assessment/Appraisal of Some Critical Sectors of the National Economy – NSE is genuinely concerned about the nation’s huge infrastructure deficit and collapse of some vital sectors of the national economy such as the persistent epileptic power supply, Iron and Steel and Paper industries, rail and road transportation systems etc. Study groups will be constituted to proffer solutions to identified problems in well articulated position papers to government and other relevant stakeholders for implementation in fulfillment of NSE’s advisory role to various arms of government and industry
Monitoring of Implementation of Engineering Education Curriculum in Tertiary Institutions – NSE is worried about the deteriorating quality of Engineering education and training from our tertiary institutions. The global Engineering education system is rapidly changing to Competency/Outcome Based Education System. For our Engineering education system to have truly national relevance and be globally competitive, we have to adopt competency based education system with skills development and practical training being a major component of Engineering education curriculum. NSE has to exercise some oversight functions to monitor implementation of Engineering education curriculum in our tertiary institutions.
Establishment of Engineering Staff College of Nigeria – NSE needs to have an organized system of Continuous Professional Development for its members. The proposed Engineering Staff College of Nigeria, similar to that of India, will be an autonomous organ of NSE for continuous professional development of Engineers and engineering managers. It will also offer consultancy services to government agencies and industry. If the Nigerian Armed Forces has a Command and Staff College and there is Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON, Badagry) for development of core competencies in the Armed Forces and Civil Service administration and management respectively, it is equally compelling and most apt to have the Engineering Staff College of Nigeria (ESCN). I therefore solicit for Government support to have this project established as quickly as possible for post graduation training and continuous professional development of engineers.
Ad-Hoc Committee on Implementation of Presidential Executive Order 5 –The Presidential Executive Order 5 creates a window of opportunity for Nigerian engineers to demonstrate their capacities to sustainably grow the national economy. An Ad-hoc Committee will be constituted to articulate strategies for its effective implementation from the Engineer’s perspective. We urge the Federal Government to still provide appropriate enabling conditions to enable engineers take full advantage of the Executive Order. These include support funding for purchase of construction equipment, tax incentives, lower interest rates etc.
Establishment of Study Group to Propose Bills on Engineering Development and Practice Policies to the National Assembly – The need for the right national policies and enabling conditions that will make Engineering practice thrive in the country cannot be over emphasized. NSE will establish a Study Group that will be proposing appropriate Engineering related bills to the National Assembly.
Community Engineering – We will encourage and support our eighty Branches across the nation to get actively involved in providing rural community projects to enhance the living standard of our rural dwellers. For the scheme to work well and be sustainable, our various Branches will identify critical infrastructure deficits in their rural communities, prepare designs and project costs and in collaboration with the Headquarter source funds from relevant arms of government, development partners, philanthropists and related community associations for the execution of such projects. NSE will provide counterpart funding and project supervision.
Development of Nigerian Codes and Standards – The development of comprehensive Nigerian Engineering Codes of Practice and Standards in our various disciplines has been long overdue. New impetus and strategies are required to massively produce our indigenous codes and standards.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training Summit – Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) which refers to the development of practical competencies within defined work domains is a catalyst to economic transformation and industrialization of nations. It is a major contributing factor to the competitiveness of enterprises in many national economies around the world. The vocationalization of education is presently a global trend. The neglect of TVET in Nigeria is detrimental to the Nation’s industrialization drive. NSE will lead the convening of a national summit to extensively discuss new approaches to a more functional TVET system in Nigeria.
Monitoring of Infrastructure Projects – NSE is concerned about reported cases of poor quality of infrastructure projects delivery, particularly road construction projects. Quite often road construction contracts in many parts of the country are awarded on the basis of political patronage to political associates who do not engage professional Engineers to carry out the works. When standard specifications are not complied with and poor quality work is presented, the Engineer is blamed for failure. This is rather unfair. We can only take responsibility for what our members who are guided by professional ethics do with appropriate sanctions for project failures.
We take exception to the recent allegation made on the floor of the senate accusing Engineers of corruption in road construction. It was rather unfortunate that such generalized accusation of a professional body came from the floor of the Senate. The National Assembly has oversight functions by its relevant Committees on execution of national infrastructure projects. There are processes and procedures for monitoring, evaluating and accepting or rejecting completed projects with appropriate sanctions where necessary.
We suggest that the National Assembly makes the engagement of professionally certified Engineers on Engineering projects awarded mandatory. The National Assembly in carrying out its oversight functions should engage COREN and NSE to provide professional project assessors to ensure compliance with standard project specifications and codes of practice. Nigerian Engineers have the capacity to build the nation if given the requisite opportunities to be actively involved in national economic development programs.
We have a large number of competent Nigerian Engineering consulting and contracting firms that are capable of delivering Engineering projects to internationally acceptable standards. I urge governments at all levels to patronize them and NSE will take responsibility for their failures if any.
Your Excellencies, I will get a list of these indigenous firms and submit to the appropriate organs of government for consideration in the award of Engineering contracts in line with Executive Order 5. It should be noted too that the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is strengthening its Engineering Regulation and Monitoring system to deal more effectively with quacks in the construction industry.
International Affairs Engagement – The NSE has been very active in the activities of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), the Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO) and West African Federation of Engineering Organizations (WAFEO). The achievements recorded within the last few years in our participation with these international bodies is quite impressive and I intend to sustain the tempo and even improve on it. Of particular importance is our success in winning the position of Executive Vice President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations by our Past President of NSE and Past President of FAEO, Engr. Mustafa B. Shehu, FNSE last November in Melbourne, Australia. Let me also congratulate Engr. M. B. Shehu on that! This is an achievement not only for NSE but for Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria as a country needs to give him all the support to succeed in this important global position. I commend the African team to the World Engineers Congress in Melbourne for demonstrating strength in unity.
The level of our participation in the affairs of FAEO has been very impressive in the last six years. We have been hosting the Secretariat since then, but with the growth of the Federation, there is need to get a permanent and independent Secretariat for the Federation. We shall rekindle our engagement with the Federal Government on that. Similarly, NSE is equally active in the affairs of WAFEO with our own Past President, His Royalty Engr. Otis Anyeaji, FNSE as the current President.
Commitment to Working with Other Professional Bodies – NSE is committed to working with and supporting other professional organizations in Nigeria such as the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN). APBN is of particular interest to us considering its unique role of galvanizing and uniting the different professional bodies in the country for our national development. I urge the leadership of APBN to always quickly intervene in resolving any disputes between its members to prevent open air castigations. A situation where a person in government uses his political position to indulge in hate speech to create acrimony between his professional body and another professional organization is unacceptable.
Those who aspire to lead this nation should be capable of preaching peace and harmony at all times and be devoid of parochial interests. Our construction industry is large enough to accommodate all relevant professionals and allow for ingenuity to develop new models and forms of work to make the industry perform better. Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) was created as an industry best practice for Engineering projects from the ingenuity of Nigerian Engineers. It has unique applications in defining work elements of Engineering projects and has no contradictions with other forms of work measurement.
Membership Drive – There are many registrable Engineering graduates in practice in the country who are not associating with the Nigerian Society of Engineers to understand our focus on professional ethics and adherence to use of Engineering Standards and Codes of Practice. We shall work closely with COREN for registration of more prospective candidates and undertake a harmonization review and reduction of cost of registration of new members.
Leaner Secretariat Staffing – We will focus more on professionalizing our Secretariat operations in line with modern office operations techniques. There will be more focus on staff training for relevant professional knowledge and skills.
Completion of NEC Phase II – A lot of work has been done on our corporate Headquarter building phase II. This has been made possible by the commitment of our members to paying their annual dues/levies and generous donations by our corporate friends and other individuals. I sincerely commend the Immediate Past President, Engr. Adekunle Mokuolu, FNSE for his dedicated focus on the project during his tenure which has resulted in the significant amount of work done in the last two years. His mobilization efforts brought in commendable donations. I would like to particularly appreciate our own Engr. Seyi Makinde, FNSE the Executive Governor of Oyo State for his recent significant donation to the project. We still need more support to enable us complete and deliver the project early this year.
Renovation of NEC Phase I and Lagos Liaison Office – The renovation work on phase I of the Headquarter building has already started and that of Lagos liaison office will commence in the first quarter of this year. NEC Phase I will be converted to a hotel to provide accommodation for our members when they come for programs in Abuja.
Conclusion – Indeed, Engineering is life and Engineers make nations great. With dwindling revenues from our economic resources and the escalating cost of borrowed funds for infrastructure projects, Nigeria needs to look inwards to utilize what it has. Our local content development approach should be all inclusive with the utilization of local Engineering capacities. I therefore urge government to provide Nigerian Engineers with the right policy frameworks and the enabling conditions to allow us build the nation of our collective dream.
My distinguished colleagues of the great and noble Nigerian Society of Engineers, I dare say that Nigeria is waiting for Engineers to fix it and get it out of its present state of under development to an industrialized nation of global competitiveness. This is a task that must be achieved by us and not foreigners. I therefore call for our collective synergy, cooperation and commitment with unity of purpose as we embark on a new journey to industrialize our country with strong advocacies for partnership with all levels of government and other critical stakeholders. Let us declare this new decade as our decade of Engineering intervention in Nigeria. Together, we can work to make a difference in the lives of our members and the prosperity of all Nigerians.
Appreciation – I want to most sincerely appreciate everyone who has spared time to part of my investiture ceremony today. I specially appreciate His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for the enabling environment he is creating for sustainable practice of Engineering in the country. I also most sincerely appreciate the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Distinguished Senator, Ahmed Lawan, Ph.D, CON the Senate President who is here with many of his colleagues for the laws they are making and the many more they will make to enhance Engineering development and practice in the country. My appreciation also goes to Your Excellencies, the Executive Governors of Borno and Yobe States for the great support to ensure the success of this event. I appreciate dearly all the Royal Fathers and other invited guests. All the Past Presidents of NSE, Fellows and members of the Society and all our friends and supporters, I appreciate you. Finally, I thank my parents and my wife for their great support that got me to this position today.
God bless you all.
Engr. Babagana Mohammed, FNSE