DELIVERED BY ENGR. NDIFON MBEH AGBIJI, FNSE, FNICE, FNIEE, FNIWE AT THE 2022 ENGINEERING WEEK AND INAUGURATION OF THE 17TH CHAIRMAN OF THE BRANCH AT THE DOME, CALABAR MUNICIPALITY, CROSS RIVER STATE, 26TH AUGUST, 2022.
I remember as if it were yesterday when I stood in this hall on the 28th August,2020 (about two years ago) to be inaugurated as the 16th Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Calabar Branch. These two years have indeed marked a turning point in my life and that of my family. With every dawn of each morning I am reminded of my solemn oath and social contract to serve and to take our branch to an enviable height. These reminders took sleep from my eyes every other day.
My wife and children had to put up with my almost continuous near absence from home. I traversed the lengths and breaths of Nigeria even had to travel through means I never would have loved to …… all for my service to our great society.
As we roll the curtain today to mark my exit from this stage to yet another higher call of service it is my honor to present to this august gathering and indeed the entire world my stewardship report and allow posterity to judge our modest efforts asper our delivery on our mandate and policy direction of our leadership.
DELIVERY ON OUR MANDATE:
I remember that when I stood before you two years ago, we made our mandate very clear which included amongst other things:
1. COMPLETION AND FURNISHING OF THE CALABAR ENGINEERING CENTRE:
When we came on board our Secretariat was at the deck level. Thanks to the past chairmen who committed their time and resources to have taken the building that far.
Two months after my assumption of office, our make shift secretariat at the Cross River Ministry of Works was completely destroyed during the ENDSARS Protest in Calabar. You will recall that not a pin could be recovered from the rubbles of that attack. We lost everything. We were faced with the very difficult task of the completion of our permanent Secretariat at the Parliamentary Extension. Distinguished Engineers and our guests, I make bold to say that today we have an ultramodern completed secretariat.
Our gratitude to Mr. President (Engr.T.S.G Wudil, FNSE) for visiting us at that critical time of our being homeless and facilitating the donation of 2 million Naira from the National Headquarters for the work. I thank most profoundly, Dist. Senator Professor Sandy Onor who gave us the first N500,000.00 we used to commence the work in my time as chairman. The Calabar Engineering Center is a testament of our commitment to the mandate and policy trust which I took two years ago and so the slogan’ Promise kept”
2. CONSTRUCTION OF SOLAR POWERED MINI WATER SCHEME
As it was our promise to leverage on our linkages, when we took possession of our ultramordern engineering center, it became inevitable to have a reliable source of portable water for our use and to provide for the immediate community as our corporate social responsibility. We engaged with our partners and got the donation of a solar powered mini water scheme through the commitment of our Distinguished Fellow and esteemed Managing Director of the Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA); Engr. Bassey Nkposong, FNSE. Today, this scheme is fully completed, functional and serves our entire host community. Again ‘Promise Kept”.
3. INSTALLATION OF SOLAR STREET LIGHTS.
Challenged by the heightened concern to secure the installations in our engineering Centre and provide security in our immediate environment, we lunched out on our linkages and sought the support of our main stakeholders to provide solar powered street lights in our Centre. Many thanks to Engr. M.T.E Essien, FNSE and Mrs. Rose Udoh, MNSE for rising to the occasion. Today our Engineering Centre glows with a celebrated ambience of illumination all night.
4. ENHANCED WELFARE FOR ENGINEERS:
We had promised an enhanced welfare package for engineers. This we pursued through collaboration and advocacy with relevant authorities. We sought partnership with the Cross River State House of Assembly through the Honorable Speaker. We visited and had fruitful interactions with the Head of Service of Cross River State, visited all MDAs that have our members under their employ advocating for proper placement and remuneration of engineers in line with the COREN amended Act. We fought with all our might for the promotion of qualified engineers in the civil service to the position of Permanent Secretaries. Again, one of our finest distinguished fellow, Engr. Dr. Godwin Akeke, FNSE was within this period promoted to the enviable position of Permanent Secretary. Our engineers in UNICROSS and UNICAL are now holding very high positions of leadership in the institutions. We attended all functions of engineers to show our goodwill and solidarity.
5. ENGINEERS ESTATE
As part of our welfare package for our members and in line with our selfless commitment, we went a step further to acquiring over 38hectares of land in Calabar urban and established the Calabar Engineers Estate where all Engineers of our Branch and beyond took the chance to become landlords with the option of installment payment. This was our commitment to the welfare of our Engineers for an all-inclusive residential estate with appurtenant facilities in Calabar for the maiden Engineers Estate in Nigeria. Again….. Promise kept.
6. NSE CALABAR HOTELS & RESORTS
Arising from the need to create investment portfolio to power the programs and projects of the branch without putting undue pressure on our members, we had earlier in this year commenced the construction of the premier
NSECAL Hotels and Resorts in the heart of Calabar: Ndidem Usang Iso Boulevard. This project is basically funded by shareholders and investors in the business which has over 80% equity ownership by engineers of our branch.
7. REGISTRATION OF ALL SPECIAL PURPOSE VEHICLES
We thoughtfully created special purpose vehicles as subsidiaries of the NSECAL Engineering services limited to drive the business arm of the branch namely: NSECAL Multipurpose corporative society, NSECAL Hotels and Resorts. These SPVs are now fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and fully operational.
8. ENGINEERING GAMES
With a renewed hope to put the NSE Calabar on the engineering games map. We for the first time progressed to the semi-finals of the National engineering games.
9. SPOUSES FORUM/ PRAYER MEETINGS
The maxim, a successful man is the man with a great woman walking side by side, yielded great results as the hitherto comatose spouses forum was revived and regular meetings held periodically with fasting and prayers incorporated.
10. CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF ENGINEERS:
We stayed committed to the continuous professional development of our engineers, we met and maintained the annual John Egbe Memorial Lecture, organized series of industrial visits, organized public lectures and allowed for technical paper presentations in all our meetings. This we did to enhanced knowledge sharing and professional development. We also collaborated with the Federal Road safety corps to initiate different levels of training for our colleagues and even student members.
11. COLLABORATION WITH GOVERNMENT:
To propel and accelerate growth and development in critical infrastructural sector in the state and country at large, government MUST engage trained and certified Engineers. My administration strategically collaborated with government in areas of professionalism in Engineering practice and delivery of projects in line with engineering specification. We paid courtesy calls and engaged with government at all levels in the state ranging from the Head of Civil service of the state, Speaker of the House of Assembly, all Commissioners and Heads of Engineering based organizations including the Vice Chancellors of the UNICROSS and UNICAL. No stone was left unturned!
12. PUBLICATIONS & PUBLICITY
In line with our conviction to boost the public image of our branch, we consistently produced and freely distributed over 1000 copies of our colorful calendars all through our two years of stewardship. We featured many times on different electronic and print media reporting our activities. The branch for the first time won a first place in the 2021 Group dynamics on publicity.
13. COLLABORATION WITH INDUSTRY AND ACADEMIA
The NSE Calabar under my watch, brought an initiative where we are collaborating with universities in our catchment (UNICROSS and UNICAL) and serving as Interface Managers between the engineering departments and the industry. This way, the industry will be able to influence the academia to produce the kind of engineers they need and respond to their specific needs assessment. We are encouraging industry-relevant research efforts.
14. STRENGTHENING THE BRANCH THROUGH DIVISION ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVITIES
At a time most divisions were moribund and unable to carry out their mandate, we unbundled the existing leadership whose tenure had long expired, brought in new energy and fresh zeal by encouraging election of new excos in the divisions and inauguration of chapters of divisions that were operating without formal inauguration. We are glad to report today that all our divisions are now very functional.
15. HISTORIC AMMENDMENT TO THE ARTICLES AND MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION MEMART OF THE NSE FOR ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY
Following the crises that rocked the NSE after the botched EGM of 2018 and the resultant strain between the branches of the South-South and the National, at my emergence as the leader of all South-South branch chairmen of NSE, I championed the reconciliation and subsequent return of the entire South-South caucus of the Nigerian Society of Engineers back to the centre with a solemn promise to midwife and deliver the age long agitation for rotational Presidency of the society to all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria. To the glory of God, I alongside Engr. Akobo, FNSE sponsored and presented the motion for the amendment of the MEMART of our great Society to Council in march, 2021.
I thereafter proceeded and moved the historic motion for rotational presidency on the floor of the 54th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of NSE held on Thursday, December 9th, 2021 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. This motion was passed with over 70% of participants and the amendment has been successfully carried and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Today, every engineer in Nigeria and South – South in particular can aspire, work hard and be voted as President of the NSE. For me, this is the most rewarding service I have offered and this is what I should be remembered for akin to what my Late Father, His Imperial Majesty stood for and offered all his life to the service of God and Humanity.
This account of my stewardship cannot be complete without my paying glowing tribute in honor of My Father His Royal Highness, Elder (Okim) Lawrence Mbeh Agbiji JP JP, Clan Head of Effi, and Imperial Majesty of Olulumo Kingdom, Cross River State whose translational exit commenced on the 25th of June, 2022 for being a father in word and deed. In him and his life of service I got inspired daily and found a reason to walk in the path of light always. May God grant Him Safe travels, warm reception and eternal repose …..Amen
Your Excellencies, let me conclude by appreciating all engineers in our great branch and beyond, for the steadfast support that I and my Exco members have enjoyed. We couldn’t have achieved anything without all of you. May I solicit your continuous support for my successor Engr. Desmond Ewa and his Exco.
My zeal for delivering on my campaign promises may have caused me to step on toes. This was never deliberate and I seek your forgiveness.
I thank almighty God for His mercies that kept us.
My gratitude to my Boss, Engr. Bassey Nkposong, FNSE who stood by me and provided all that was required to succeed during my term in office.
Eternal gratitude to my wife, Mrs Nneka Agbiji, my Children and entire Agbiji family not forgetting my Lead Pastor and the Sent Church team for the prayers and intercessions.
Thank you all for your kind attention.
Engr. Ndifon Mbeh Agbiji, FNSE, FNICE, FNIWE, FNIEE