Academy urges technology deployment to tackle infrastructure challenges
The Nigerian Academy of Engineers (NAE) has urged the Federal Government to deploy more funds towards technological development, and to use technology to tackle infrastructure deficits in the country.
A former president of the academy, Dr. Edet Amana, gave the advice during the investiture of the former Managing Director, Kaduna Refining & Petrochemical Company Ltd., Alexander Ogedegbe, as the new president of NAE in Lagos.
The forum featured the presentation of life achievement awards to emeritus professors, Steven Odi-Owei, Thomas Okpo Kimble Audu, and Dr. Oyenuga Eribake as well as the induction of 10 new fellows.
Amana deplored the low allocation to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in the 2021 budget, saying the government is yet to recognise the importance of technology to development in all its ramifications.
According to him, for technology to work, there must be a robust acquisition by the people and management framework developed by the government.
Speaking on a lecture entitled, “Nigerian Infrastructure: the missing links,” Amana explained that any well-delivered infrastructure, which lacked the ‘technology buy-in’ of the local people, would result in poor maintenance as seen in the narrow gauge railway system.
“Any infrastructure, which is delivered without getting the people to acquire and internalise the technology used in its delivery, lacks the peoples’ ownership and is not sustainable. In the past, an Indian company was invited to come and take over the management and operation of Nigerian Railway Corporation, and they failed to bring it back to life. For development of sustainable infrastructure, it is imperative that the technology be domesticated, and all aspects of technology ecosystems mobilised,” he said.
Amana, who is also a past President of the Association of Consulting Engineers, Nigeria (ACEN) lamented that there was no prospect in the ongoing railway projects in Nigeria, because the government was importing all the components including, the steel, coaches, labourers.
“The best of our young people are leaving the country and these are the people who know about technology that the country needs to grow the economy, and develop the infrastructure. The delivery of infrastructure on a sustainable basis depends on need, objective, funding, political engagement, technology and the role of the intelligentsia in bringing positive change in our country.”
The structural engineer advised the academy to provide the leadership for Nigeria’s development in all areas.
In a remark, the outgoing president, Prof. Fola Lasisi, said the Academy is poised for the advancement of engineering education and practice throughout the engineering family. This, he stated, is achievable through continuous learning, advocacy and strategic collaborations with relevant professional associations, government and industry.
Lasisi said NAE has collaborated with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to upgrade the working facilities of the Federal Science and Technical College, which was initiated by its past president, has been completed among other achievements.
Ogedegbe, in his acceptance speech as the new President of the Academy, pledged to provide the needed transformation for the academy and engineering as a major driver of national development and international competitiveness.
He also assured that the administration would restructure and re-energise the content of the academy’s activities more efficiently, and effectively.