Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says the sophistication involved in the blowing up of oil pipelines is an indication that those involved are not ordinary Nigerians.
Buhari said going into the sea for almost 70 kilometers to blow pipelines requires expertise, and he advised professional associations to find out if their members were not deploying their skills to the detriment of the country.
He made the remarks after his investiture as grand patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, NAE.
“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,” he said.
Disagreeing with the position of the delegation that Nigerian engineers were under-utilised, Buhari said 99 per cent of those who constructed the four refineries in the country were Nigerians.
He expressed regrets that none of the refineries is currently working, but exempted the engineers from the blame, putting it at the doorstep of past leaders.
He added that the success of the Petroleum Trust Fund was largely hinged on their skills.
“Nigerian engineers are competent and cost effective. I respect you all; it takes a lot to be a competent engineers,” he said.
“By insisting that we must be cost effective in building infrastructure, we will utilise Nigerian engineers. I respect them a lot, and I know it takes time to be trained as an engineer.
‘‘Somehow, every time and anywhere I have served in this country, I found it cost-effective to use Nigerian engineers, and we relied on their capacity to understudy, learn, and deliver.
“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.”
Joana Maduka, president of NAE, noted that Nigerian engineering companies have performed well in the last one year.
She added 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 harnesses the benefits of their engineering academies for economic progress,” he said.
“Fellows of the Academy of Engineering are engineers who have reached the peak of their careers and are invited to join.”
She also expressed the Academy’s delight with the desire of the current administration to fix infrastructural deficit in the country.
“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,” she said.
“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 underutilised 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.”