By Dapo Akinrefon
FOR Mr. Benjamin Nnamdi Ekwueme, serving in the Imo State cabinet is not only a privilege but service to the people of his state. Ekwueme, an engineer, is Special Adviser to the Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim, on Project Monitoring and Implementation, and was recently honoured by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) with fellowship awards.
He believes that â€œnow, Imo State will be better for it knowing full well that the Bureau of Project Monitoring and Implementation of the government of Imo State is headed by a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
This also means that I must ensure, for instance, in Imo State that we do not build shoddy roads; that we do not put all our capital projects in a capital engineering ducks that are not well done. So, I have to tidy up all of these to better the lives of the people and showcase the stuff the government is made of.â€
Ekwueme, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, had left Nigeria to contend with lifeâ€™s many challenges in the United States. Upon return to the country, he went back to his state, Imo, where he has since offered his expertise in different spheres of the system, particularly in the area of engineering where he majors.
He first served as a sole administrator in one of the local governments in the state, and then, served as board members to some state corporations before he was eventually appointed Special Adviser when Chief Achike Udenwa was governor of the state. Aside seeing this task as a privilege, he considers it a reflection of his contribution to human development; the engineering profession and Nigeria at large.
Hear him: â€œI feel very honoured to have been so rewarded and that all the things I do are being noticed. This is because the fellowship is only by invitation; you donâ€™t apply for it. They would look at the things you have done before you would be invited. So, there are a lot of checks.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers is one of the oldest professional bodies and for us being 15 in the whole country means it must have been a careful selection. Looking at myself and others who have been selected, I canâ€™t but be happy.â€
While commending the Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim, he also thanked him for providing the platform for him to contribute to the development of his state.
â€œI am so thankful that some of the advice I give have been instrumental to what the engineers believe was a good take in engineering practice in Imo State for me to be so qualified. I owe everything to the governor, the government and the good people of Imo State for allowing me to work; allowing me an opportunity to display my engineering skill and for believing in me.
Iâ€™ll continue to do what I know how to do best because this is a big challenge and a call to dutyâ€ , he stated.
â€œThe countryâ€, he noted, â€œshould expect more from me because to whom much is given, much is expected. I really have to think of practical engineering works that would benefit the system. This elevation has also made me to know that hard work pays.
It is also an indication that if you continue to work closely with a governor who is focused as my governor and is engineering friendly, then the system will work. My governor is of the belief that it has not been sheer rhetoric- that indeed, Nigeria is working.
Ekwueme expressed optimism that his elevation would give him an edge as a focused person. This, he said would justify in several political circles the need to engage professionals to a certain extent.
â€œI look forward to Godâ€™s calling and the people of Imo State. I know that it is not easy that the people would take me for who I am. The platform was provided by the state and I intend to inject back to the system what it has given to me.
I know that the people will want me to continue to do that and I will not deny them the opportunity of using my professional successes for the betterment of the people. I want to remain with them and give back substantially. It is the only way to say thank you.â€