Minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed that a nation with a growing population like Nigeria requires massive injection of infrastructure, saying that engineering would play a critical role in its quest for development and prosperity.
He stated this in Nsukka, Enugu state during the special Herbert Macaulay Memorial lecture, organised by the University of Nigeria (UNN), faculty board of engineering on engineering and its contributions to national development.
The minister was optimistic that in many decades ahead that Nigeria would graduate well-trained engineers who would build the infrastructure and maintain them adequately. Fashola noted that given president Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to deliver on his campaign promises that any enterprising engineer or technician would get employment.
He lamented that Nigeria paid little attention to diverse field of engineering like metallurgical engineering which encompasses research, control and development of processes used in the extraction and refining of metals.
The minister stated that biomechanical and biomedical engineering combined the discipline of mechanical engineering with human anatomy and physiology, leading to the development of prostheses, developing movements for people with spinal injuries and refining equipment used for athletes.
Explaining further, Fashola asserted that Geomatic engineers collected, displayed and analysed data about the earth’s surface and its gravity fields, which he believed is crucial for developing mapping technology, delineating legal boundaries and monitoring environmental changes.
On plastic engineering, the minister hinted that since there is a proliferation of plastic waste, which this field of engineering could help in developing technologies that would manipulate and reshape plastics for recycling purposes.
In this era of applications, he said that software engineers are trained in the specification, development, design and maintenance of software systems and products.
For water resources engineering, he affirmed that the engineers would help in the assessment of pollution sources, the control of flood damage and resolution of conflicts and effective management of water reserves.
He revealed that Lagos being a coastal state and two meters below the sea level was threatened by flood, adding that engineers around him explained how the drainage hydraulic systems of canals worked to prevent the state from being submerged. This he said became very clear that engineering defined our civilization.
According to him, “In the 1970’s immediately after the unfortunate Civil War, Nigeria embarked on a radical infrastructure renewal, building stadia, roads, bridges, high rise towers and so on, similar to what has unfolded in the United Arab Emirate in the last decade.”
He re-affirmed that producing high quality engineering graduates would contribute to national development.
Fashola said that engineers would be needed not just in building the Mambilla power plant, rail projects, bridges, airports, seaports, and gas pipelines but the power substations and other projects as well as to operate and maintain them.
He noted that there are linkages between government programmes and policies, career development and manpower building by the universities that would move Nigeria faster like the ones envisaged by Herbert Macaulay and other founding fathers.
The minister noted that construction could only progress in a peaceful and conducive work environment where opportunities could birth Jobs, drive productivity and create prosperity.
Fashola insisted that some roads that are still motorable in some parts of the country were funded through the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during President Muhammadu Buhari’s era at PTF in the 90’s.