A notable Social Conscience Crusader Comrade Engr. Udengs Eradiri has called on Ag. President Osinbajo to immediately remove the current Minister for Works, Power and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN from the Ministry not only for his poor handling of the sector but most importantly for not being a professional from the engineering sector.
He said this during the Conference Council of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), just as the sector have been described by experts as critical to the economic and infrastructural development of Nigeria,COREN 2017 Conference offered the right platform for industry experts to look at its prospects and challenges.
Comrade Engr. Udengs Eradiri
According to the former President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), “one of the biggest challenges in Nigeria is the tripod Ministries of Works, Power and Housing which Fashola heads today which is the tripod holding Nigeria’s economic and infrastructural development to ransome, because if we want to make progress as a nation we must make sure that the professional in the field who understands the language, who knows what is happening in that place is allowed to head the Ministry.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from SAN Babatunde Raji Fashola who is a seasoned legal luminary in the field of law, but the legal profession is clearly different from the engineering sector.”
Experts have always maintained the importance of having engineering professionals come together under the aiges of Council of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN) which they agree cannot be overemphasised because Nigeria has a lot of manpower in terms of engineering but what has always been lacking is the support of government to ensuring that these engineers are put to use.
Comrade Udengs said that he was happy that COREN put up events like these at list to show case to Nigerians that Nigerian engineers have the capacity to fill in the gap, but he decried a situation where engineers are been led by a lawyer in the person of SAN Raji Fashola. He described it as one of the biggest blunders of this administration and should be immediately addressed by the Ag. President.
“When you have a brilliant lawyer in Fashola leading engineers what you will have is improper channelling of material and human resources which is one of the main issues, this is because you can’t have a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as Minister for Works, Power and Housing.
“These are areas of our national lives that need professionals in that field. It is like having an Engineer to be the Attorney General of the Federation it doesn’t fit in and so the country needs to get its priorities right by making sure that square pegs are put in square holes.
“Take for instance we had a budget of over N6 trillion last year so the issue of figures isn’t just the matter at stake here when it comes to this sector. As I speak to you Julius Berger has left Lagos/Ibadan Express Way project. So if you as a Minister of Works cannot live up to your obligations on Lagos/Ibadan Road then what are you doing in the first place.
“If you also consider what is happening in the Rail sector what you would find is apparent inactivity since the commissioning of the Abuja – Kaduna railway project that was done because of the airport, what other area can you point at? Our power generating capacity has dropped to 1.8 megawatts per day there is a fundamental error of a square peg in a round hole and until it is corrected no matter how much that is put into the sector through the budget the monies would not be channelled appropriately,” he said.
Reacting to the issue of promoting local engineering companies he said that the Nigerian Local Content Development Board which basically focuses on the Oil and Gas sector which has brought about a lot of improvements in the sector in terms of engaging locals and in-country investment in engineering especially in the oil and gas sector, but he expressed reservations in other engineering sub-sectors like construction, aviation, maritime and mining where he insisted is still dominated by lots of foreigners who keep taking jobs meant for Nigerian engineers.
He further advocated for the establishment of a Nigerian Union of Engineers (NUE) as the panacea to the many challenges bedevilling the sector.
“The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in the next meeting to be held in November will be pushing for a Nigerian Union of Engineers (NUE), where young engineers will come and set up a union to begin to police some of these anomalies in the sector. We cannot be here and a Julius Berger operating in Nigeria will have more of foreign engineers when in the real sense our engineers can also be developed to that capacity. Go to China and see how they are developing their local engineers. If our people are not engaged how are we going to get the needed experience that is required of us.”
We will recall that Nigerians have suffered severe losses as a result of building collapse sometimes traced to local engineers and developers in the sector, but the former youth leader Insists that the quackery is as a result of the lack of a virile union to checkmate some of these isolated activities in the sector.
“There is a lot of quackery in the system, where people who are not engineers claim to be engineers, so this union (NUE) will be saddled with the responsibility to checkmate and challenge some of these anomalies. If we had a virile union in place government will not appoint a lawyer as Minister for Works or Minister for Power. What government can do to rescue the sector from imminent collapse is to remove Fashola from those Ministries immediately, and if they feel they cannot run this government without him, he should be redeployed to another Ministry without delay, because the indices have shown that apart from being a square peg in a round hole, he is not even performing.
“I must tell you that people like us are not praise singers for politicians, Nigeria is already going down the drain with decisions like this. In fact go the maritime sector you will find a lot of non-engineers practicing and most of them foreigners, go to the road sector, the aviation and manufacturing sector it is still the same thing. The mining sector cannot be left out, because if you go to the North there are a lot of illegal miners that are taking away jobs meant for Nigerian engineers and this trend has to stop.”
One of the highlights of the conference was the award of excellence given to governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State who was recognised by COREN for his efforts at transforming the landscape of his state by improving the infrastructural capacity of the state since the last six years in office. However the vocal comrade Insists that it is important not to get carried away by the razzmatazz of these kind of gatherings because COREN he claims can sometimes be political.
In his words, “We should be mindful of how we perceive some of these awards because an institution like COREN can sometimes be political, if not how do you explain giving an Honourary Fellowship to the Minister for Works, Power and Housing who is not an engineer such an award, and since over how many months now he has not even showed up to receive it because he knows as a SAN he doesn’t deserve to be a fellow of COREN as a non-engineer.
“So if an institution such as COREN is giving him a fellowship award when in the real sense they ought to be telling the government to post him away from the sector as a non-professional, then you will also understand the political colouration of gatherings like this. We need a Nigerian Union of ENGINEERS (NUE) to take up the challenge of addressing the anomalies in the engineering sector.
“This is August and tenders are just coming out now for jobs that are supposed to impact on the lives of people in the economy. Some bids might even be open till September and by the time it will go through award the year will be over, and these are projects that are supposed to create jobs and engage engineers, he said.