Reengineering engineers to foster national development
As a designer, an engineer is trained not only to invent various physical infrastructure that, beautifies an environment, but upon which other economic activities can thrive.
From bridges to buildings and roads, an engineer is trained to interpret figures in a manner that solves the most knotty and confusing societal phenomena.
That is why engineers are found far beyond studios to and unfamiliar terrain such as the banking halls and top management echelons of most banks across the country, especially in the credit departments where figures and other variables are central in determining the viability of credit facilities.
So, rather than be found in the field constructing buildings, bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure, the versatilities of the Nigerian engineers have extended to the accounting profession, where they lead the way in the membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) as well as the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). It is not, therefore surprising that nine Engineers at various times had emerged the Chief Executives of notable banks in Nigeria.
The simply logic adopted by smart engineers was to adapt the mathematics principles to solve economic challenges.
As the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) celebrates its 60th years of existence today (Tuesday), the President of the Society, Adekunle Mokuolu said the time for the reengineering the Engineer is now in order to properly place engineers at the forefront of Nigeria’s development agenda.
Going down the memory lane, Mokuolu said the NSE was indeed formed in London on February 6, 1958.
He said the founders, who were young and vibrant Nigerian Engineers and Engineering students, felt the need for a cohesive organisation to articulate their advocacies and lend voice to the yearnings for recognition for their professional expertise, both in the UK and at home in Nigeria.
He opined that the tenacity of the founding fathers of NSE has not faltered over the years, saying though the Society might have modified its method of operations, the vision has undoubtedly remained steady.
He outlined that the cardinal objectives for setting up the NSE include the promotion of engineering education, research and practice in their entire ramifications.
“This is with a view to maintaining and enhancing the professional capabilities of Nigerian Engineers with a view to better equipping them to fulfil the needs of the profession in delivering critical infrastructure for the good of the public and development of the nation.
“Today, we are proud to say that NSE has become the veritable platform for true professional development of Engineers and, by implication, the vehicle for driving the technological advancement of our country,” he explained.
So far, the NSE has had 31 Presidents in its 60 years of existence.
It also has a total number of 75 branches across the globe with one in London and another in Houston, United States of America.
From the fields of Civil, Electrical/Electronics, Mechanical and Telecommunications Engineering which were the founding members’ fields, NSE now has 25 professional divisions established along specialized engineering fields.
While the Branches undertake advocacies and liaisons with government and other development stakeholders, the mandate of the Divisions include the development of Codes and Standards which are the technical guidelines for promoting safety, reliability, productivity and efficiency in engineering practice.
He highlighted that the core of NSE advocacies have targeted the promotion of economic diversification and pursuit of industrialization by government.
Without any iota of apology, Mokuolu stated that the NSE has always held the strong conviction that Nigeria can only achieve the desired self-reliance and economic growth through deliberate utilization of indigenous technology, hence the promotion of Nigerian Content Development took the front burner in NSE’s advocacies for many years.
However, he was quick to observe that it has been a very herculean task in the face of some government administrations perpetuating unbearable level of disservice to Nigeria and its citizens through neglect of professional advice in implementing developmental policies.
The NSE Chief noted that it is delighting to note that government is finally beginning to respond to some of the organisation’s agitations by issuing some friendly economic policies such as the recent Presidential Executive Order 5 for Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology, which was signed on February 2, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Society also lauded the administration of former Military President General, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida for the establishment of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in 1992, an Agency that is still doing creditably well today.
He submitted that ‘Reengineering the Engineer for optimum national economic growth and development’ was carefully crafted as theme for discussion at the 60th anniversary colloquium to light the torch of introspection to show what members need to do, not only to improve their wellbeing, but to also shore up their relevance as a professional organization in the larger society.
In his contribution to the discussion, an infrastructure development policy adviser, Adebayo Aderolu submitted that there is a need to make the Engineer appreciates the quality of his or her training.
His argument: “There must be a deliberate effort to ensure the showcasing of the engineer in him. Engineers must be made to understand that he or she has passed through a training process that has made him or her a very sound analytical human being. A lot of the problem that Engineers have is attitude. While is engineering studied? It is a course that made people professionals. Why are they professionals? It is because a person has a profession. Now, why would a young man that has a profession be looking for a job? Is it not laughable that a young man who read engineering is at home looking for a job meanwhile there is an electrician opposite his area is getting business. Such an Engineer thinks Nigeria is his problem. No. it simply means that the engineer in him has not come out. He is not the engineer he should be.
“I studies engineering and in the course of my engineering training and practice, I was taught to use mathematical formula to look for variation in electrical signals. So, when I came into banking, it was easy for me to us the same formula look for variation in interest rate and in pricing. This is because the principles are the same.
“When I was in the banking sector, I knew nine banking chief executives that were Engineers. Banking is one sector Engineers have done very well but that is not acknowledged. I worked under two Engineers who were bank chief executives. One had a first class in chemical engineering while the second one had a first class in civil engineering.
“A lot of Nigerian students study engineering but when they graduate, there is nothing to engineer in them. An engineer finds it very easy to pass an aptitude test that requires him to solve 50 mathematical equations in 45 minutes than graduates that studied sociology because he had gone through a higher mathematical training. But engineers are more needed in other areas beyond banking.”
He maintained that the Society and other relevant bodies of engineering profession should ensure there is an engineer in every Engineer and make conscious effort to project their members.
Aderolu, who advocated a reorientation opined that engineering training institutions are still training student engineers to look for a job upon graduation.
He added that studying engineering should no longer be hallmark of brilliance alone, but a course that lays the foundation for solving societal challenges.