At the just-concluded University of Lagos, Faculty of Engineering Alumni Association’s 3rd Alumni Lecture themed “Professionals in Politics: Panacea for Sustainable National Development” various Alumni of the university who are now in strategic positions in government, graced the event, alongside other dignitaries, students, well-wishers, and pressmen.
The welcome address was given by the Chairman, UNILAG Faculty of Engineering Alumni Association, Engr. Titi Omo-Ettu emphasized on the major focus of the lecture from his perspective which he stated to be “on engineering and those in the practice of the profession”. He reiterated that “we have spent many years arguing that for a country that has an infrastructural deficit as a challenge, the Chinese model of governance in which political leadership is selected on the basis that 80% of those governing are engineers or persons of Engineering background, suits us”. Speaking further, he said that “the electorates of South-West states of Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo spoke clearly in the last election by voting for leadership that is Engineers heavy. He ended his address by speaking directly to the governors and their representatives’ present stating that “we see your election as a challenge to us as infrastructure providers and we want to remind you of this major responsibility on your shoulders and our determination to support you to succeed”.
During the event, the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu who was the guest speaker, expressed his delight about being asked to make the presentation where he gave context to politics and shared his views on who is and what makes one a politician. He stated that “I was appointed to several offices in government from 2003 but I left in 2011 to go back to the private sector and entrepreneurship and then eventually returned in 2016, but through these periods which lasted about a decade, I did not consider myself a politician, seeing myself purely as a professional – a technocrat – in politics and public service. I did not begin to consider myself a politician until around 2018 when the opportunity emerged for me to step up to contest for the office of governor of Lagos”.
To buttress his point of the nonexistence of a clear-cut disparity between the corporate world and the political divide, he believes that this concept is ingrained in and is the material that weaves the very fabric of many activities even in the private sector, stating that “I do not subscribe to the view that there is a rigid and distinct line between a ‘professional’ and a ‘politician'”. He stated that “Accounting, Law, Engineering, Business, are all professions that have supplied and continue to supply a considerable number of people at the highest level of politics and political service in Nigeria”. He concluded his presentation by urging everyone to “reclaim the word politics from negativity to encourage those who want to go into partisan politics and not labelling them as sell-outs for wanting to fly the flag of a partisan party. While acknowledging the power that politics has to shape our lives and society for good or ill and to educate ourselves on how politics is played from the lowest level to the top. Politics in Nigeria needs more professionals, more outsiders, not less”.
The lecture event held at the J.F Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos