President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that the sophisticated manner in which oil and power installations in the Niger Delta were being destroyed was an indication that such actions are perpetrated by professionals who understand the industry.
The President said it was not possible for ordinary Nigerians without technical expertise to travel about 70 kilometres into the sea and destroy oil installations two meters down in the waters.
Buhari stated this after his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineers (NAE) at the presidential villa, Abuja. NEA was led to the villa by its president, Mrs. Joana Maduka. According to the President, “If I will go in the negative side, how can an ordinary Nigerian go into the sea, 70 kilometres or more, go down two meters and blow up oil installations? That cannot be an ordinary Nigerian.” He urged the leadership of the NEA to engage their members to do more in safeguarding oil installation for the good of the country.
“So, I hope you will appeal to your colleagues to make sure that what we have built, they should regard it whether they are working with multinationals or the government. “I think that if Nigerian engineers are denied their roles, it is not the fault of the profession, it is the fault of some individual governments. “Other governments have done their best and found Nigerian engineers competent and cost effective.
Nigerian engineers are very quick in taking up and performing in the field,” the president said. While disagreeing with the delegation that Nigerian engineers are underutilised, Buhari recalled that 99 per cent of those that constructed the four refineries in the country were Nigerians. The President explained that government has always taken engineers seriously in the task of nation building Buhari said: “Nigerian engineers are competent and cost effective. I respect you all, it takes a lot to be a competent engineer.”
He promised that his administration would heavily utilise talents and skills of local engineers to rebuild ailing infrastructure across the country. The President noted that local engineers contributed more than 90 per cent to the design and realisation 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, adding that the success of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) was largely hinged on their skills.
Earlier in her remarks, Maduka noted that in the last one year, Nigerian engineering companies performed laudably well in procurement and con-struction of a 600-megawatt power generating plant and a 330KV switching station, the biggest in the national grid.
The NAE President 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 harnessed the benefits of their engineering academies for economic progress. Fellows of the Academy of Engineering are engineers who have reached the peak of their careers and are invited to join,” she said.
Among those who attended the event were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, both of them engineers, as well as other senior government functionaries and presidential aides.