From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the sophistication involved in the blowing up of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, suggests that those involved are not ordinary Nigerians.
According to him, going into the sea for almost 70 kilometres to blow pipelines with ease, suggests that some professional associations with high competences need to talk to their members to ensure they were not deploying their skills in a negative way to the detriment of the country.
The president made the observation after his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), led by its President, Mrs. Joana Maduka, at the Presidential Villa.
“How can ordinary Nigerians go into the deep sea almost 70 kilometres to blow installations, they are not ordinary Nigerians. So, you have to talk to your members,” he said.
Disagreeing with the delegation that Nigerian engineers are under utilised, the president recalled that 99 percent of those that constructed the four refineries in the country were Nigerian engineers.
Describing Nigerian engineers as those whose capacity to learn is unparalleled, he said the government has always taken engineers seriously in the task of nation building.
While regretting that none of the four refineries are currently working, President Buhari said those to be blamed are the country’s leadership and not the engineers.
“Nigerian engineers are competent and cost effective. I respect you all, it takes a lot to be a competent engineers,” Buhari said.
Earlier in her remarks, Maduka noted that in the last one year, Nigerian engineering companies performed laudably well in procurement and construction of a 600 megawatt power generating plant and a 330kv switching station, the biggest in the national grid,
The NAE president added that the role of an academy of engineering all over the world is to serve as Think Tank for the technological and economic development of a nation.
Maduka, who observed that the anti-corruption efforts of the administration was a move in the right direction, added that it will bring about economic transformation to the country.
She also expressed the academy’s delight at the desire of the Buhari’s administration to fix the infrastructure deficit in the country.
“This effort is germane to the development of our nation. For this to be done effectively and efficiently, inputs are required from all cadres of engineering disciplines.
“The physical indices of development of any country are engineering based like roads, railways, water supply, power, housing and other infrastructure.
“However, Nigerian engineers are under-utilised for the tasks and challenges of nation building. For the country to attain sustainable growth status, the Nigerian engineers need to be adequately engaged in planning, policy formulation, consultancy and construction as well as industrial processes of production and manufacturing.
“Furthermore, the fact is that Nigeria is grossly under-engineered as there are insufficient engineering professionals taking the population per capita basis.
“For example, in China, between 2000 and 2013, the nine members of the standing committee (ministers) of the Politburo were trained engineers. Currently, about half of the cabinet ministers in Singapore are engineers and in China, 70 percent of the cabinet are engineers.”
Maduka said the Nigerian Academic Engineering is currently made up of 140 fellows.
In attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the minister of Science and Technology, both of them engineers, as well as other senior government functionaries and presidential aides.