BY Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA â€” The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Olumuyiwa Alade Ajibola, has stressed that only the use of technocrats in technical positions would ensure that the country coes out of the woods with regards to its infrastructural challenges.
Chief Ajibola, who spoke in a briefing in Abuja on the state of affairs regarding infrastructural development in the country further argued that the nationâ€™s power sector has suffered from the lack of application of experts, notably power engineers, to man the sector.
He said, â€œWe make bold to say that Power will be easier to realise with a Power Engineer in the cockpit. The same goes for Ministries of Works, Steel, Petroleum, Communication and Aviation.Â â€œIndeed, this is recognised all over the world. Malaysia that took Palm seeds from Nigeria has surpassed us in the production of the commodity because they have put round pegs in round holes.â€
The NSE president pointed out that even developed countries deploy people who have the technical competence to drive those sectors , adding that this the Societyâ€™s proactive stance is to avoid the need to be burdened at a later stage to provide solutions to possible avoidable problems
According to him, the objective of government is to â€œaccelerate development and early delivery of infrastructure , critical amongst which are Power, Transportation (Roads, Railway, Waterways, Aviation, etc.) Water Supply, Communication,â€ noting that all these are engineering based.
He added that, â€œOver the years, Nigerians have blamed Engineers for failure in infrastructural provision and other issues ranging from collapsed building, bad roads, to poor power supply without considering the fact that professional engineers have not been appropriately involved in policy making and implementation at the highest levels.
â€œThis informed our recent calls on government to give professionals a chance to prove themselves in the service of their nation by putting round pegs in round holes to drive its goals and the MDAs.â€
He added that, â€œIt is incontrovertible that in the 21st century, Engineering, Science and Technology is the surest platform for nations to step into self_reliance, sustainable development and general prosperity.
â€œThus there is need to institutionalise Engineering processes into our development through appropriate policy reforms in the Engineering based MDAs. The issue therefore is not just to get infrastructure but to own and sustain them.
The NSE, he said, welcomed the recent dissolution of the Federal Executive Council by the Acting President as a rare opportunity to achieve this, but feared that appeared not to be the case.
He said, â€œWe felt that as a government of necessity, the administration was aiming at actively involving technocrats, as much as, possible to drive the Ministries, Department and Agencies which have direct bearing to their competencies. This does not appear to be the case.
â€œAs a professional body, we observe that the intention of government was to appoint people that would hit the ground running in various ministries as could be deduced from the charge of the Acting President during their inauguration.
â€œThis portends the spirit of urgency to deliver its promises, especially on infrastructure to Nigerians in the remaining part of the tenure of the administration.â€
He expressed surprise that out of the 38 new ministers, there are about four Lawyers, two Pharmacists, two Physicists and architects Architects but only one Engineer.
â€œThe Engineer, even though, he possesses Petroleum Engineering background and has worked at top management levels in the nationâ€™s oil industry, was posted to the Ministry of Works, the main Ministry for engineering in the country as Minister of State, while the Minister of Works is an Architect. Square pegs in round holes?â€
Ajibola noted that as a nation desirous of development, â€œwe cannot afford to toy with the idea that ministerial positions are purely administrative which can be filled without regard to the basic technical competence of the holders of that position.
â€œIt demands a good working knowledge and technical requirements and processes of the sectors. Although a lot of procurement is involved, but that is just a part of it, ensuring real delivery of the set objectives requires specialised knowledge to add value to the entire processes and quality of the end product of the well intentioned policies.â€