Former President of Nigeria, Engr. Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged Fellows of various engineering body to ensure that competent professionals from public and private sectors dominated the profession.
He stated this in Abuja at an event organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in commemoration of his 80th birthday celebration.
According to him, “Fellows should ensure that the professional body consist of people who are professionally competent, able but men and women of character both in public and private aspects of engineering profession”.
This he said would lead to optimal performance in engineering based projects in the country adding that he was really overwhelmed and greatly touched by the honour.
Responding to eulogies on his numerous achievements while in office, he said, “All these things you said that I did, I did not do them alone; so, if I accept the credit, I accept it on behalf of men who helped me in achieving these things you talked about”.
“There were many behind doors and out there that helped me and the credit must go to them as well”. He noted that he had interfaced with great Nigerian Engineers like the first Engineer in the Federal Ministry of Works and others who he described as men of character.
“If not for the foundation laying of NSE building, we will not be here, most of them have gone to great beyond, may their souls rest in perfect peace but we are proud of them and may their good works continue to flourish after them”.
The former president stated that such accomplished engineers left behind legacies that other Nigerians would emulate.
“Whatever past leaders have done that set precedence for us, there is more we can do to create a better future for those coming after us”.
He noted that given their level of integrity and honesty while discharging their professional responsibilities both in public and private that their legacies would remain evergreen.
“The training of an engineer which makes him not to take anything for granted is good for anything we want to achieve in the public life, don’t take it for granted”, he warned. Obasanjo commended the NSE presidential system of election and governance, wishing that it could be introduced into Nigerian politics.
While highlighting the difference between engineers, doctors and lawyers, he noted that they were three famous professionals in the country at a time though Post masters, police, teachers and station masters existed.
“If a doctor makes mistake in a patient, its only one patient that will die; if a lawyer makes mistake in its client, the client will go to prison but if an engineer makes mistake, it’s a disaster and tragedy. If an engineer builds a house or bridge and it collapses, many people will die and not one person will go to prison”.
On his part, the the President of NSE, Engr Oliver Tagbo Anyaeji maintained that the greater part of National industrial and infrastructural assets were initiated and developed by Obasanjo even as he commended him for the building of Warri and Kaduna refineries, steel plants, phase 1 of petrochemicals, nitrogenous fertiliser and among others.
He recalled Obasanjo’s effort towards the actualisation of NSE’s National secretariat in Abuja adding that the secretariat which Obasanjo performed the official commissioning is central to the society’s optimal performance.
Anyaeji emphasised that Obasanjo successfully initiated and pioneered the establishment of an Engineering and Technology University (Bells) as well as established the state-of-art Presidential library in Ota Ogun State, considered as first of its kind in Africa.
“While it will be pretty difficult to bring to the fore all the achievements of this world acclaimed achiever, I wish to mention that President Obasanjo initiated the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) in 2005 and directed by policy that Nigerian engineering firms must get at least 25 percent of exhausted project scope.
The directive he said led to the participation of 120 engineering firms in NIPP adding that 83 of the firm’s were owned by indigenous engineers. Also speaking, the Executive Director of African Union, Dr Mohammed Kyari said Obasanjo’s transformation traverse across the continent saying that the contribution of Obasanjo to the AU is magnanimous.
On engineering as the agro business industry sector, chief executive, Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr Waheed Olagunju described Obasanjo as God’s gift to Nigeria and the world generally even as he commended the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwummi Adesina for transforming the bank.
“We are trying to achieve food self sufficiency by 2025 but if we invest N1bn in agriculture, we will make more impact that will lead to job creation”.