Nigeria to become one of leading engineering countries, says COREN boss, Ali
What is the mandate of COREN?
Our mandate in summary are articulated in our act and it is to control the regulation of engineering practice in Nigeria in all aspect and ramification. To that end we do accreditation of engineering programme in university or faculty of engineering and any university that has the programme unaccredited, graduate of such faculty will never practice engineering. Thereafter after graduation, they are trained for four years and they become qualified engineers by adding the prefix engineer to their name.
Could you expatiate on the theme of the COREN Assembly?
The theme Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing is a way of evaluating ourselves that capacity to market yourself is critical to success of any venture. Its not enough to have the knowledge, if you don’t have the tools for marketing that knowledge you may keep in an incubator. We found out that most of our businesses are not as successful as it should be so we felt that we should talk about that it on the steps that should be taken to put the knowledge into practice because its not enough to graduate with first class but its important that the ideas is put into use in terms of practice for yourself and the nation. So the idea is to bring entrepreneur out of ourselves. It’s not enough to be an engineer but its important to be an entrepreneur innovator and a good businessman.
What is you assessment of Engineers in Nigeria in terms of capacity, capability?
Without sounding immodest, most of those who have the benefit of going through engineering school are high fliers usually above average intelligence, but in terms of delivery after graduation, we see the constraint in the sense that our training is such that you don’t project yourself or tell people you have a first class. It is against our ethics that am a good engineer or an excellent engineer, you cant advertize yourself, even then you have to be moderate or else the council can query or punish you for self laudatory. And this kind of training is not helping us in today’s world because you need to build your own drum a bit. So that extent we are not doing well because we don’t know how to beat that drum. In terms of capacity an average Nigerian is a huge asset to himself, his family and the nation.
Engineering projects generally are capital intensive if there is no affirmative action individuals cannot contribute to the development of engineering project in Nigeria. The foreigners that are doing it have the advantage of having the support of their own country, we need the support from government to provide funds that we can access at low digit interest rate so that we can build engineering business that is the main thing that is holding engineering down. Although we have issues with our own enterprenureship capacity but those are internal issues that can be dealth with, you know at times Nigeria is static with some people, we must give people oppoutunity. They should try us, we want government to continue to use the Petroleum Trust Fund model because when they did the result was very excellent so that engineering can grow, we want them to challenge us.
To what extent are government owing local contractors?
Many local contractors don’t get paid, even me as a consultant am being owed for three years now I don’t even know if it would be paid. There is noting that we can do than to continue to appeal to them. So we are begging them to pay our colleagues, provide soft loan so that we can work.
On what COREN is doing to help the matter?
Because of the way Nigerian Engineers are being perceived in public domain, we tried to benchmark our qualification with other nation so undertook the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) for Nigerian Engineering Undergraduate for Academic process we did it in 2013/2014 and then send it to the world. We sent it to UNESCO, Federation of Engineeering Institutions in Asia and Pacific (FIAP) to take a look at what is being done in Nigeria and let us know what is missing. UNESCO set up a committee to look into it and made a very good recommendation. FIAP admitted us as the only non-member nation of Asia and recommended us to be a member of the World International Engineering Alliance and if we become signatory to the Washington Accord then we would have internationalize our qualification. We went for the conferences and presentation, its obvious that the world engineering community does not see us the way Nigerians see us. Right now we are on the course of becoming one of the 19 leading engineering countries in world hopefully we would achieve that by next year.
How is the council instilling local content in MDAs
The recent execitive order issued by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo have empowered the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to take legal action against any agency of government that fails to include local content in their procurement process. the federal executive council has empowered us to sue any government agency who outsource what can be produced locally.
The construction work usually require huge capital outlay Ali stressed the need for affirmative action by the government to support local engineers like its been done in other developed countries.
Ali recalled that in 60s and 70s their was affirmative action in place, that is a deliberate effort by the government to provide fund for the engineers to start up their operations but unfortunately it was discontinued.
Developed countries provide loan for their contractors at an interest rate as low ad 2percent and also provide them equipment s at a subsidized rate but unfortunately the reverse is the case in Nigeria.
What is happening about the Bsc, HND Dichotomy?
Bsc and HND holders, he said things are not as it seems as there are various people involved in the engineering work starting from the engineer, technologists, technicians and the craft men maintaining that all of them are part of the engineering family and they have mutual respect for everyone regardless of the qualification BSc holders are registered as engineers, HND are technologists, but the media make it look as if there is a fight but that is not true the only problem we have is that in the civil service, the pay structure stagnate the technologists at a certain level.” While canvassing that technologist should be allowed to grow to the peak of their career just like the engineers, He lamented that globally people are paid according to their work and the reward system is such that it does not allow people to present themselves as technologists. He said COREN has been appealing to the Head of Service and has written a letter to the effect so as to allow technologists to grow to level 17. He said engineering is not a local profession but a world profession and various kinds of people that bring engineering project to bear