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5.0. Engineering and Development.
The strong linkage between engineering and development has been acknowledged from time immemorial. Engineering as a body of knowledge has made tremendous contributions to the development of mankind and it will continue to be. The engineering profession engages in a wide range of activities, from large collaboration at the societal level, and also smaller individual projects. By its very nature engineering has interconnections with society, culture and human behavior. Engineering is one great weapon against poverty and hunger.
Every product or construction used by modern society is influenced by engineering. After all, the developmental status of any society is measured by its standard of physical development, its economic productivity and it overall ability to harness the forces of nature and add value to its natural resources (Momah, 199:70). Therefore, the results of engineering activity influence changes to the environment, society and economies, and its application brings with it a responsibility and public safety.
Engineering projects can be subject to controversy. Examples from different engineering disciplines include the development of nuclear weapons, the Three Gorges Dam, the design and use of sport utility vehicles and the extraction of oil. In response, some advance engineering companies have enacted serious corporate and social responsibility policies.
Engineering is a key driver of innovation and human development. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has a very small engineering capacity which results in many African nations being unable to develop crucial infrastructure without outside aid. The attainment of many of the Millennium Development Goals requires the achievement of sufficient engineering capacity to develop infrastructure and sustainable technological development.
On the whole, the role of Engineering to development, operation and maintenance of critical infrastructure is attested globally by all and sundry under varied environments ranging from developed, developing and underdeveloped economies. The deliverables from engineering professionals are very tangible, impactful and pivotal in the growth of all types of economies. The revolutions witnessed in different facets of human endeavours including ICT, transport, power, security, health, etc. are directly attributable to engineering and allied professionals hence the need for Nigeria to step up its engineering development. If engineering becomes an important factor in national development and to the welfare of citizens, it is of the utmost importance to include the practice in national policy implementation.
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) was therefore inaugurated in 1970 with the mandates to regulate and control the practice of the engineering profession in all its aspects and ramifications. Also, recently, President Muhammed Buhari recognized the contribution of the Engineering professionals in filling the wide of infrastructural deficit and the restoration of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The President again demonstrated his support for Engineering Professionals when is ascended to the amended COREN Act of 2018 which broadened the powers of the Council with far reaching powers and assist in deepening engineering profession.
6.0. A United Engineering Family: A Panacea for National Development.
Engineering profession requires team efforts by the members of the Engineering family. Each member of the team needs the other members to succeed, and the team’s success is synonymous with the success of the individual. According to COREN, each and every one must be trained and prepared for his role in the team. It is only when each member of the team knows, accepts and plays his role effectively and efficiently that the team, or in this case the practice of engineering can succeed. It is to emphasize this aspect of mutual respect by team members, whilst simultaneously acknowledging respect for the team leader, that the engineering team is described as a family. As it is indeed, in a family, the roles of members overlap hence in engineering practice there is no hard and fast line drawn between the works undertaken by different members except for responsibilities including responsiveness.
The four cadres of the Engineering Professionals normally function as a team and complement each other to deliver quality services throughout the life cycle of any type of infrastructure from rocket and space gadgets to rural based facilities/utilities. The fundamental success factor for the performance of engineering and other allied professionals in maintaining all family values and alliance to address a common objective towards solving a problem or goal. This was the culture passed to the early engineering professionals, which was supported and sustained by responsive codes, ethics and standards.
The family always ensures the spirit of teamwork without any bit of negative competition resulting in poor designs, higher cost to clients, low quality services, poor coordination, delays, conflicts, disputes, mistrusts, failure to enforce penalties to defaulters, and above all endangering lives and properties of citizens and erosion of confidence in the erstwhile engineering professionals. The need for unity amongst the engineering family cannot be over emphasized considering its importance to the engineering family and national development generally.
In fact, the theme for this year’s COREN Assembly “Strategic Alliance Amongst Engineering Professionals for Enhanced Opportunities” is of course a call for unity amongst the engineering practitioners to ensure that they drive maximum benefits of the enhanced opportunities accessible to them.
It must be understood that for any nation to develop, engineering practitioners must be given a rightful place in the developmental strides of putting sustainable infrastructure at all the levels of government. COREN registered Engineering practitioners must continue to be given the opportunity to practice their profession, as no country can develop technologically by depending solely on the expertise of other nationals. To allow foreign companies dominate in handling all the major engineering jobs in our country is a misnomer. Indigenous capacity must be developed if we must move forward in a sustainable manner.
As members of the Engineering family we must work in unity and continue to advocate for our active participation in the infrastructural development process, we must always remind ourselves that to whom much is given, so much is expected. We must be prepared to stand for value for money in engineering projects to which we are responsible. Engineering practitioners must hold themselves accountable to their projects. When a team of engineering practitioners imbibes the family culture and alliance, they possess the ability to deliver quality and cost effective services, create new and credible value or product for the target clients and enhanced opportunities for themselves.
Often the achievement of value comes in many forms including new opportunities, improved skills, increased competitiveness, increased returns, etc. A united family is generally in cooperation and coordination of designated responsibilities amongst its members to deliver quality and cost effective services, products, processes, etc. to the satisfaction of the clients. The pathways to ensure achieving and sustaining a united family culture and alliance are generally through establishing enduring and transparent professional relationships at various levels involving the individuals, groups, cadre associations/ societies, etc. that seeks to assist each other at any level discharge the mandate or responsibility expected of it in the delivery of a project. To achieve this every cadre must accept to develop the requisite competences and capabilities and capacities to be able to reach the highest peak in their career in order to be effectively participate as a core team member of the engineering professionals and be able to contribute materially to the creation of products and services to the satisfaction of the expectant clients.
Strict adherence of the regulations, laws and rules by all parties at all levels is one of the key factors of success. Furthermore, engineering family must embrace the anti-corruption war of the present administration. It was recognized that over 90% of the nation’s appropriation is in engineering projects through which a greater percentage of corruption takes place. Even though acts of corruption in engineering projects are not necessarily perpetrated by engineers, but they are usually blamed for the occurrence. My dear colleagues, it can no longer be business-as-usual.
Any engineering practitioner involved in any corrupt practice directly or indirectly should be severely sanctioned. Let’s therefore, in our own interest, desist from acts of corruption in engineering projects.
Ladies and gentlemen, you will all agree that the role of Nigeria’s engineering practitioners and firms in national development cannot be under rated. The indigenous engineering practitioners and firms should be adequately engaged in design, supervision and management of infrastructure for economic and social development in Nigeria. This cannot be achieved without unity amongst the engineering family.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to lend my voice on this topical issue of unity and national development.
Appreciation ! Appreciation !! Appreciation !!!.
Thank you for listening.