Despite the signing into law of Executive Order 5, participation of indigenous engineers in projects has remained low, what do you think is responsible for this and how can local engineers contribute to national development?
We must realise that Rome was not built in a day. In terms of the low participation, we have to grow overtime and the next thing we must work at is capacity building. Indigenous engineer must develop capacity for recognition in projects and building capacity comes in various forms: financing, equipment and skills.
There must be a framework where commercial banks will need to support engineers. If we do not have policy somersaults, government must remain consistent in supporting Nigerian engineers and advancing what Executive Order 5 stands for so that we can see results in years to come. Engineers need to work on themselves, go beyond engaging in a job just to pay bills, be conscious of growth and development, and liaise with government and financial institutions to compete globally. It is not correct for engineering professionals to compromise standards to advance national development. Standards and quality make most Nigerians to prefer foreign products than the local.
The major aim of engineering is to identify problems and proffer solutions, and so, it is the soul of national development; you can only talk of development in terms of engineering. It is only when engineering plays its role that Nigeria can get ahead. It has a wide spectrum from conception to design, procurement, construction, operation and maintenance.
Nigerian engineers have over the years, played role in operations and maintenance, it’s for engineers now to up their games and influence national development.
They need to come together with those in the universities, the field and evolve a framework of development where they can translate research and development and make contributions across the different parts of the spectrum of the profession.
Nigeria can’t get ahead without engineering, the government and citizens must begin to recognise the role of engineering. The nation must understand how engineering education flow to practice and developmental direction.
Experts have expressed worries on the capacity of engineering graduates to compete with other young professionals. Why do we have this challenge and what is the way forward?
It has been a general challenge and not limited to engineering, it is the drop in the quality of our educational system over the years. Peculiar to engineering is the gap we had over time between the academia and the industry. We have seen a situation whereby in other professions, they have been able to introduce house-manship for like a year to undertake practical examples of what they have learnt in the university.
Engineering created the industrial training framework and has been driven by government through the ITF but over time we have seen a situation where the industry has not been forthcoming and we see situation where students we continue to look for places to undertake their IT and sometimes you see some of them ending up in irrelevant organisations. We have a lot of obsolete equipment in the school laboratories and the industries are not favourably disposed to giving opportunity to students to have practical trainings.
Stakeholders must involve more of collaborative framework. The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Ikeja branch, has been working with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, the National Youth Service Corp and others, trying to grow the network of engineering organisations as partners so that when we have a pool of them, we can request for engineering graduates and they would be exposed for a year to the right practical experience in organisations.