President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday maintained that the people involved in the blowing up of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region are not ordinary Nigerians going by the sophistication of equipment they are using.
By going into the sea for almost 70 kilometers to blow pipelines with ease, he said, has necessitated the need for some professional associations with high competences to talk to their members to ensure they were not deploying their skills in a negative way to the detriment of the country.
He spoke at the Presidential Villa after his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), led by its President, Mrs. Joana Maduka.
He said: “How can ordinary Nigerians go into the deep sea almost 70 kilometers to blow installations, they are not ordinary Nigerians. So you have to talk to your members.”
Disagreeing with the delegation that Nigerian engineers are under utilized, he said that 99 per cent of those that constructed the four refineries in the country were Nigerian engineers.
Stressing that the government has always taken engineers seriously in the task of nation building, he described Nigerian engineers as those whose capacity to learn is unparalleled.
Regretting that none of the four refineries in the country are currently working, he blamed the country’s leadership for the situation and not the engineers.
“Nigerian engineers are competent and cost effective. I respect you all, it takes a lot to be a competent engineers”. He stated
Speaking earlier, Maduka pointed out that Nigerian engineering companies have performed laudably well in the last one year in the procurement and construction of a 600 megawatt power generating plant and a 330KV switching station, the biggest in the national grid.
She said 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.
“Countries like China, USA, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are examples of nations that have harnessed the benefits of their engineering academies for economic progress. Fellows of the Academy of Engineering are Engineers who have reached the peak of their careers and are invited to join”.
She noted that the anti-corruption efforts of the administration was a move in the right direction as it will bring about economic transformation of the country.
The group also backed the move by the Buhari’s administration to fix all the infrastructural deficit in the country.
She said: “This effort is very 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 underutilized 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, all 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 per cent of the cabinet are engineers”. She stated
She disclosed that the Nigerian Academic of Engineering is currently made up of 140 fellows.