Engineers in Nigeria have been challenged to put on their thinking cap and invent ideas for the rapid transformation of the nation’s economy.
Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties in the State of Osun, Engr Olalekan Badmus stated this in an address at the 5th Induction Ceremony for Engineering Graduates of Osun State University.
In the address titled “The future of Engineers in the present face of Nigerian Economy,” Badmus noted the contributions of Engineers in the country to the socio-economic development of the nation urging new graduates in the sector to be responsive and do more.
He also stressed the need for the inductees to do things differently and procreate ways of engendering sustainable development in their fatherland.
THE FULL ADDRESS
BEING AN ADDRESS BY ENGR OLALEKAN BADMUS, HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER FOR REGIONAL INTEGRATION AND SPECIAL DUTIES AT THE 5TH INDUCTION CEREMONY FOR ENGINEERING GRADUATES OF OSUN STATE UNIVERSITY, OSOGBO, OSUN STATE.
It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the 5th Induction Ceremony of Engineering Graduates of our high-flying Citadel of Learning, Osun State University. It is the importance I attach to boundless opportunities technology can offer that necessitated my coming here today.
Dear Inductees, let me join your parents and other invited guests in expressing my profound happiness about your excellence. The journey, no doubt, must have been mentally and financially challenging. As a trained engineer myself, I know how arduous it is, scaling through Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Calculus, Control Valve Sizing and other difficult courses in the engineering faculty. I salute your courage. May God be your shield and helper as you go into the new World to put into test everything you have learnt in the last five or six years.
Similarly, I will also want to share with the Management of Osun State University the excitement of convening this special gathering at this time of our national life. The pace which the University has set in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic by being the first university in Nigeria to organise an Online Matriculation is highly commendable.
Today again, you have set another record by being the first PUBLIC University to organise an Online Convocation/Induction. These feats, no doubt, could not have been possible without your commitment and dedication to upholding the Vision and Mission statements of the Institution even in the event of any challenges.
I have followed with keen interest the history and performance of UNIOSUN and I am convinced that the university is destined to play a crucial role in our nation’s technological and scientific advancement. It is my hope that in the nearest future, our darling UNIOSUN will be able to replicate the feat set by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, when it created cartoon characters (avatars) of more than 2,000 of its students for a unique virtual convocation. This is a clear testimony of power and penetration of digital technology and engineering advancement in today’s world. We must not be left behind.
The organisers of this event have invited me here to share my perspective on what I understand to be the future of engineering graduates in Nigeria.
HERE IS THE INTERROGATION
The conversation around the role of engineers in nation building has been with us for some time. It has not achieved much because it has been lacking in fundamentals of our socio-economic construct. It has been more of rhetoric and superficial considerations. The political will to push through far-reaching policies has been lacking. It is hoped that as we are having more engineers at the corridors of power, the narrative will begin to change significantly.
As engineers, it is important we assume our rightful role of being creators of improvised ideas. We must wear our thinking caps and think out of the box to design workable, profitable and, more importantly, sustainable model for every initiative or project. This, to me, is what I considered the hallmark of an Engineer.
It is the responsibility of the future engineers to fashion out solutions to the dwindling economy of Nigeria. We must respond to current situation. Engineers have always been partners in progress. Engineering is Development. Engineering is the critical catalyst for national development.
Today, I have come to acknowledge the pivotal role engineering advances have contributed to the economic development of this country. We have not done badly. The involvement of Nigerian engineers in the expansion of post-colonial infrastructural development witnessed in the country cannot be waived aside. For instance, the construction of the Third Mainland Bridge which was the longest bridge in Africa until 1996 when the Cairo’s 6th October Bridge was built, have the huge signatures of many of our engineers. Equally, the constructions of the NECOM House, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, National Theatre, Cocoa House are some of the notable achievements recorded by our engineers.
All that have been listed are profound achievements. But they are for seasons past. We are in a new season and we must devise new strategies and models to solve the existing challenges we are faced with. How many of our engineers today are even in strategic positions to contribute meaningfully to the economic and infrastructural developments of the country? Many are not gainfully employed because there are limited spaces to accommodate them. The labour market is saturated.
So, for future engineers to survive and be relevant, they must begin to do things differently. Future engineers must begin to Create! Innovate! And Manufacture. They must be self-sufficient. A good example is an award winning young Engineer, Charlette N’Guessan, who built facial recognition technology for Africa. The young lady observed that facial recognition technology is not widely employed in Africa partly because the technology has not been adept at identifying and differentiating the faces of Black people. It has been misidentifying black people. So she came up with a technology to address that and it was widely accepted. Today, the lady no swims in money and she has carved niche for herself.
A good global instance of thinking out of box is that of the multibillionaire Engineer, Tesla. A young, dynamic and versatile engineer who wanted to prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars. Today, Tesla builds not only all-electric vehicles but also infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products. He believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better. Tesla also manufactures a unique set of energy solutions like Powerwall, Powerpack and Solar roofs thereby enabling homeowners, businesses, and utilities to manage renewable energy generation, storage, and consumption.
Dear graduands and inductees, let me therefore inform you or reaffirm that your chosen path of career could turn you to Millionaires if you apply the right attitude and knowledge. Whether in mechanical or electrical or civil or computer engineering, the opportunities are enormous, but only if we are ready to tap into them by thinking out of the box. I encourage you to begin to do an appraisal of your community. Get first-hand knowledge of the need of your people, of your environment and the rest should be how to get the solution. I know you will agree with me that there are boundless opportunities and several knowledge gaps to fill.
Many of us chase after big tech companies. This is good, no doubt. Working in big companies affords us a great platform to share our skills, interact with great minds and provide solutions to challenges facing humanity. But the reality of today is that there are limited placements and openings in these big companies.
Dear graduands, ladies and gentlemen, there was a time in this country when we had car assembly plants scattered all over the place. That was one of the best periods for us in the country. Thank God, such great times appear to be returning owing to the deliberate economic policy of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration aimed at encouraging indigenous manufacturing businesses. Indigenous companies like Innoson Motors are now taking the bull by the horn. I believe many of us must have heard about Proforce Limited. Proforce is a Nigerian company set up by Ade Ogundeyin, and it is in the business of designing and producing military tactical vehicles such as Mine Resistance and Ambush-Protected vehicles, MRAPs and bullion vans. The company recently got a multiple million dollars contract to produce 100 MRAPs for the Republic of Chad military.
We have in abundance engineers who can produce electricity and solar-dependent engines. We have engineers who can change our orientation of depending on hydro and gas for electricity to biomass, which is more renewable and sustainable.
In our state of Osun here, an indigenous ethanol producing company is partnering with the state government to establish a bio-refinery factory with capacity to produce 7million litres of biofuel annually. This is a factory that will be built on 21 hectares of land which the state government has donated as part of her equity in this particular Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. It is interesting to note that at maturity, the venture will generate over 10,000 employments. This is the kind of business development that should interest our future engineers. Let us endeavours to seek collaboration where it is needed. Partner with like minds to float business ventures where your trainings, skills, ideas and vision can gather flesh.
I am aware there are a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations providing start-up grants and soft loans for young entrepreneurs. The Tony Elumelu Foundation and the federal government’s Bank of Industry Youth Entrepreneurship Support Program(YES-P) are two of these verified organisations. If you are successful, you can access as much as N5 million grant/loan from them. You may have to find out about them. I am equally aware that your institution is also giving start-up supports to individuals with bankable proposals. It is better to try and fail than not to try at all. You cannot fulfil your destiny on mere theories. I expect by now that majority of you should have attached themselves as either interns or volunteers to existing engineering coys that are available. It should be noted that it takes work; it takes action to be successful. Success is backing good ideas with action.
My dear Future Engineers, I want to appeal to you all that as you are getting into a new phase of your life, you must endeavour to be part of model drivers and solution providers to the Country’s challenged economy.
I thank you most sincerely for your attention as I congratulate the Management, Staff, Graduands and their parents on the occasion of this remarkable Induction.
God bless you all.