A Nigerian researcher and prominent engineer, Dr. Hilary Owamah has called for the re-engineering of the Nigerian engineers for optimum economic growth and development.
Owamah, who is the Acting Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, Delta State University, Abraka, Oleh Campus and President, Academic Research and Entrepreneurship Development (A-RED) Initiative, made the disclosure during his presentation at the colloquium lecture to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
During the event which took place at NAF Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja, Owamah told the participants that for Nigeria to achieve sustainable economic development, there is need for more engagement of indigenous engineers in the provision of infrastructural facilities, as the only professionals that have the capacity to apply the knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences, gained by study and experience in the provision of social amenities.
Lamenting the excess concentration on engineering theories in the training of modern day Nigerian engineers, he attributed this to gross inadequate laboratory facilities occasioned by poor funding in Nigerian universities.
Owamah further noted that Nigerian engineers are neglected due to their inadequate presence in the political space and charged his colleagues to come out from the cocoons, join political parties and contest for elective positions.
According to him, “it is regrettable that 58 years after independence, Nigeria still depends largely on foreign nations for her various technological and industrial needs”.
The guest speaker described Nigeria as a technologically backward country based on her inability to produce her capital goods, dependant on other countries for spare parts and machines and exportation of raw materials to other countries as against finished products.
He further linked the backwardness to Nigeria’s reluctance to develop military invention made by Biafra during the ill-fated Civil War and poorly equipped tertiary institutions, adding that the attitude of the government towards changing the narratives is appalling as policy makers took technological decisions without consulting Nigerian engineers and technologists.
Because technical manpower development is one of the most important issues confronting Nigeria, Dr Owamah called for a repositioning of engineering education and practice for national development.
The guest lecturer said that some of the challenges confronting the Nigerian engineering education and training are poor quality of secondary school leavers, who eventually find their way to higher institutions, poor funding, inadequate training facilities, redundant curriculum and poor government-industry-institution relationship.