Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the sophistication vandals employ in blowing up oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, suggests that such expertise was not coming from ordinary Nigerians.
He said a situation where the vandals go deep into the sea for almost 70 kilometers to destroy pipelines with ease, suggests that some professional associations with high competences need to talk to their members to ensure they were not deploying their skills in a negative way to the detriment of the country.
President Buhari made the remarks after his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), led by its President, Joana Maduka, at the Presidential Villa.
“How can ordinary Nigerians go into the deep sea almost 70 kilometers to blow installations, they are not ordinary Nigerians. So you have to talk to your members.” He said
He disagreed with the delegation that Nigerian engineers are under utilized, noting that 99 per cent of those that constructed the four refineries in the country were Nigerian engineers.
The President also described Nigerian engineers as resilient, whose capacity to learn remains unparalleled, adding that the government has always taken engineers seriously in the task of nation building.
While regretting that none of the four refineries are currently working, he said those to be blamed are the country’s leadership and not the engineers.
Buhari said, “Nigerian engineers are competent and cost effective. I respect you all, it takes a lot to be a competent engineer”.
Maduka in her remarks, noted that in the last one year, Nigerian engineering companies performed creditably well in procurement and construction of a 600 megawatt power generating plant and a 330KV switching station, the biggest in the national grid,
The NAE President said the role of an academy of engineering all over the world is to serve as Think Tank for the technological and economic development of a nation.
“Countries like China, USA, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are examples of nations that have harnesses the benefits of their engineering academies for economic progress. Fellows of the Academy of Engineering are Engineers who have reached the peak of their careers and are invited to join”.
Maduka who observed that the anti-corruption efforts of the administration was a move in the right direction, added that it will bring about economic transformation to the country.
She also expressed the Academy’s delight at the desire of the Buhari’s administration to fix all the infrastructural deficit in the country. “This effort is very germane to the development of our nation. For this to be done effectively and efficiently, inputs are required from all cadres of engineering disciplines.
“The physical indices of development of any country are engineering based like roads, railways, water supply, power, housing and other infrastructure. However, Nigerian Engineers are underutilized for the tasks and challenges of nation building.
“For the country to attain sustainable growth status, the Nigerian engineers need to be adequately engaged in planning, policy formulation, consultancy and construction as well as industrial processes of production and manufacturing. Furthermore, the fact is that Nigeria is grossly under-engineered as there are insufficient engineering professionals taking the population per capita basis.
“For example, in China, between 2000 and 2013, all the nine members of the Standing Committee (Ministers) of the Politburo were trained engineers. Currently, about half of the cabinet ministers in Singapore are engineers and in China, 70 per cent of the cabinet are engineers”.
Maduka said the Nigerian Academic Engineering is currently made up of 140 fellows.
Those in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the Minister of Science and Technology, both of them engineers, as well as other senior government functionaries and presidential aides.