Nigeria may remain undeveloped for the next century
?Engineer raises alarm as he turns 70
By NJOKU ONYEKACHI JET
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
For most people, turning 70 is a genuine cause to celebrate. For the head of a corporate organisation hitting three score and ten years, it is reason for double celebration, more so if the person is a thoroughbred professional.
So it was with Engineer Ebenezer Babaranti Osoba, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Ebcon Engineering, when he joined the league of septuagenarians in grand style recently. Not content with just having a lavish party at a swank venue, colleagues, friends and relations gathered at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs recently for a symposium to mark the civil engineer?s birthday.
Tagged Self Reliance in Engineering: A Panacea to Development, the lecture was meant to examine the engineering profession and practice and come up with reasons for the backwardness of the country among nations.
According to Osoba, the symposium would engender proactive ideas to facilitate self-reliance towards the development of Nigeria.
His words: ?I am obliged to give something back to the noble profession of engineering through the organization of this symposium which is to kick-start my 70th celebrations. The main objective of our gathering today is to examine how well and how far we have utilized the natural resources of this nation for its development over the last 50 years when we got independence.?
Osoba lamented that as a nation, Nigeria has not done well for itself in engineering. ?Where are we as a nation in the development of infrastructure and its maintenance,? he asked rhetorically. ?What of power and energy? How about our oil and gas, the main source of our revenue??
Osoba retired voluntarily from the services of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in 1988 after 25 years. During his career with NPA, he also served as the president of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. He was instrumental to the first container terminal built in Nigeria known as Third Apapa Wharf Extension, New Wharf Port, Sapele Port and the dredging of access channel to Warri Port from Escravos.
If Nigeria will develop, Osoba who has more than 40 years experience in engineering suggested that agriculture, marine, aeronautical and environmental issues must not be taken with levity. He was optimistic that new grounds could still be broken on discoveries.
Osoba said lack of political will, absence of clear policies to manufacture things like cars, plant and equipment, aircraft and ship, among others, in the short or long term basis are some of the challenges confronting Nigerian Engineers.
?We are a consumer nation of goods produced by other countries. As a consumer nation, I predict that Nigeria may remain undeveloped for the next century. This is sad, but it is true.?
Osoba said the seminar was also organised to get government?s attention at formulating a national policy on engineering. Some years ago, he said, there was a policy on construction, which has fizzled away. He stated that the corruption ravaging the country has been having negative impact on the profession.
In his address, president of Association of Consulting Engineers, Professor Bayo Adeola, showered accolades on Osoba on his numerous contributions to the growth and development of engineering profession in the country. He, however, enjoined the participants to contribute positively to the profession.
He warned Nigerian leaders that no nation could develop without developing engineering and infrastructure. ?Engineering is the key that holds the future,? he said. ?Therefore, it needs to be developed. Our government needs to challenge our engineers and local contractors via adequate patronage.?
The Olowu of Owu, Oba Olusegun Adesina, a fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, was the chairman of the occasion. He congratulated Osoba on his attainment of 70 years.
?The topic being discoursed here today is a clear indication of the workings of the mind of the celebrant, always thinking of how to use engineering to promote national development,? Oba Adesina said. ?I want to thank the celebrant for giving us one of the challenges that we should reflect back and see that we have to do it ourselves if the nation is to grow.?