“It will be wrong to fault Nigerian engineers for the failure of refineries. You should blame the political leadership. How can you build and not know how to maintain an asset.”
This was the verdict of President Muhammadu Buhari when, today, Tuesday, he was decorated as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineers (NAE) at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari insisted that individual political leaders should be blamed for Nigeria’s ailing infrastructure, not the engineers who had always been willing to contribute to national development.
According to the President, local engineers contributed more than 90 percent to the design and realization of two refineries, 2,500 km of pipelines and 20 depots in the country during his tenure as minister of petroleum in the mid-1970s. He added that the success of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) was largely hinged on their skills.
“Somehow, every time and anywhere I have served in this country, we found it cost effective to use Nigerian engineers, and we relied on their capacity to understudy, learn and deliver.
“By insisting that we must be cost effective in building infrastructure, we will utilize Nigerian engineers. I respect them a lot, and I know it takes time to be trained as an engineer.”
He stressed that he will heavily utilize the talents and skills of local engineers to rebuild ailing infrastructure across the country, describing the engineers as ‘‘competent and cost effective.’’
According to the President, well-trained and highly experienced engineers had contributed immensely to the infrastructural development of the country, and that they remain indispensable.
The President of the NAE, Mrs. Joanna Maduka, said that science, technology and innovation were the key drivers of growth across the globe, even as she asked the Federal Government to explore and engage the multiple engineering talents in the country for more purposeful results.
“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 process of production and manufacturing.”
Mrs. Maduka commended the anti-corruption fight of the President which she said would turn around the fortunes of the economy. [myad]