28th NSE October Lecture: Socioeconomic Development – Expert harps on activism hinged on discipline

The Obi of Okija, HR Otis Anyaeji, says advocacy and activism hinged on discipline and respect for processes and laws promotes change that engenders socioeconomic development.

Otis said this in a lecture he delivered at the 28th Lecture of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) on Friday in Abuja.

The lecture was themed: “Advocacy and Activism in our Engineering DNA”.

Anyaeji, who was NSE president from 2016-2017 and a Fellow Academy of Engineering, said since 1987 he had worked with different presidents on different projects with the aim of bringing about positive changes to various aspects of our socioeconomic life and systems.

According to him, virtually everything starting from constitution making to law making to operating systems, you’d find that engineering is linked to everything that we do.

“That position as president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, you are always saddled with looking for solutions to various problems of the Nigerian socio-economic system.

“You have various sectors to run: a governance system you have water, environment, transportation, health, education, manufacturing, agriculture, etc.

“All these deals on engineering and technology and there are ways of running these systems; if you go against these laid down ways of running these systems you will mess up the system, it can work for a while but it will crash.

“We have to be disciplined, we have to respect laws and regulations, procedures of doing things and that’s what someone is called to as elected official to work for the benefit of all.” Anyaeji said.

He urged on those in authority to  respect the engineering profession and the professionals that are there by working according to the standards,  codes and procedures that had been developed for running different systems products.

Anyaeji said this was done for sustaining our earth, because engineering is the application of the sciences to solve problems of humanity in a safe, economical, healthy and environmentally sustainable manner.

Engr. Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, the President of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), said engineering seek to the world a better place.

According to him, “to be an advocate is to amplify problems occurring in society, to be an activist is to take intentional action to bring about change, typically social or political”.

“Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) was established in 1958; at that time, there was no government regulatory agency.

“It was due to that advocacy of the Nigerian engineers that the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria  (COREN), was established as a council for registering engineers and at that moment it was only engineers.

“In 1996 again, the same set of people have been mentioned, moved again to expand it in order to let the council regulate the activities of other carriers of engineering.

“Engineering is so vast that it is not only engineers in the field that work. We have craftsmen in engineering, we have technicians, we have technologists, and then we have the engineer,” he said.

The NSE president said those cadres left out in engineering pyramid were later added when the law was revised in 1990 and 2018,  all due to advocacy and activism.

He said they went further to the National Assembly to review the law to give COREN more latitude to regulate even contractors of engineering projects.

“If you look at China, or the political structure of China, there are over 26 percent engineers in that country who contribute to the development of China.

“We find engineers and engineering practitioners have been neglected in the affairs of this country.

“Let government understand that everything about governance is centred on infrastructural development. You cannot get infrastructural development by neglecting engineers, ’’ Wudil said.

Engr. Margaret Oguntola, the Deputy President of NSE, said Nigerian engineers have continually contributed to national development and also engaged government to ensure continuous improvement on the delivery of infrastructure to citizens.

“So what we need to do more is to continue to bridge the gap, and the bridge between the academia and the industry, so that the students, products of the universities, for instance, are better prepared to take up jobs.”

On what the society was doing to curb building collapses, she said they encourage the citizenry to engage only professionals when undertaking projects, they should not cut corners and should take the advice of the professionals they engage.

Oguntala said they also collaborate with regulatory agencies like Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to certify products for quality assurance.

The Special Guest at the Occasion, Mr Pascal Agbodike, the Deputy Speaker, Anambra House of Assembly, said the quality of a nation’s development was rated by the quality of engineers that that country produce.

“I believe we have capable hands in our engineering sector and Nigerian politicians have not been making proper utilisation of the potentials of our engineers.

“We have engineering firms in Nigeria who should be manned by our engineers and Nigerian politicians should know that we must at all times patronise and promote local content in Nigeria,” Agbodike said.

On behalf politicians, he apologised to engineers in country for not utilising their potential in the country.



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