The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, has revealed that more than 80% of artisans on construction sites in Nigeria are foreigners from neighboring African nations.
President, COREN, Engr Ali Rabiu, who made the disclosure, noted that many masons, carpenters, steel fabricators, plumbers, electricians, painters and tilers on project sites are from Ghana, Cameroon, Niger, Togo, respectively.
Engr Rabiu, in his address at the opening of the 29th Engineering Assembly, in Abuja yesterday, lamented the shortage of indigenous engineering technicians and artisans in the country.
He mentioned this point while speaking on the event’s theme, “Advancing the Frontiers of Engineering Practitioners and Entrenching Professionalism for National Development.”
COREN’s President stressed that this deficiency remained a significant economic setback as the widening skills gap triggers an immense capital flight with payment to foreign expatriates.
The Council further lamented that Nigeria loses an estimated nine hundred billion annually to foreign engineering services.
The reason for the re-occurring capital flight is due to the local built environment failing to generate the required human resources.
Rabiu harped on attaining engineering standards in the fields to meet up with the global best practices.
He emphasised the training of engineers in schools and creating a conducive learning environment for members and access to crucial national contracts.
COREN: Gov Umahi Challenges Engineers on Professionalism
On his part, the Chairman of the event, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, pointed out that Nigeria needs COREN to change the sector’s narrative.
He pointed to lack of patronage as a major setback affecting the profession while stressing the cultivation of discipline, patience, and patriotism.
The Gov noted that some Nigerian engineers might also be deficient, lacking the needed experience, saying barely 10% know what it takes to carry out specific projects requirements.
Narrating a story, he hinted that Nigerian engineering schools limit the exploits and growth of students, noting that lecturers do not exceed slated curricula.
Advocating for local content, he made it clear that Nigerians can handle Nigerian Projects.
Elaborating, the Gov said 90% of projects in Ebonyi were carried out by local and indigenous engineers in the state.
The Gov canvassed the use of Concrete on Nigerian roads, stressing it’s more sustainable than Asphalt.
On advancing the skills of indigenous engineers, he called for establishing a centre to coordinate one-year training of engineering students immediately after graduation.
Umahi assured the Council of providing a structure huge enough to accommodate three thousand capacity, an institute that would handle the retraining of young engineers.
He identified the unfairness meted on local engineers and called on Mr President to review the Act that guides their operations in Nigeria.
COREN Emphasizes Need to Upgrade Members
Meanwhile, during the opening remark, Professor Joseph Odigure, Registrar, COREN, said the Council hopes to implement some suggestions made in the past and present for the change most desired to see in the nation’s economy.
Partly, he said the 29th COREN Assembly to attempt to discuss the objective to achieve “One Student One Skill” across Nigeria.
In his keynote address, Engineer Inuwa Musa, the country needs to overcome the challenge of Culture Policy Failure, that Government would join in ensuring they achieve targets and objectives.
While identifying some education challenges, Musa addressed issues surrounding the unemployability of some undergraduates due to a lack of required skills.
Some factors responsible for this skill deficit, according to him, includes dilapidated learning equipment and environment, outdated teaching methodologies, among other shortcomings.
He pointed out that ‘Cheating’ is the mother of all failures in Nigeria, as the collapse of education would mean the fall of a nation in a broader view.
For instance, he said an engineer who cheats to pass exams would later build a structure that would collapse.
He called for the transformation of the practice into a life-long profession where learning never stops, adding the need to explore new advancements in the practice for better frontiers.