Home Politics Engineers should show interest in national politics, says Bayelsa ex-deputy governor

Engineers should show interest in national politics, says Bayelsa ex-deputy governor



Mr Gboribiogha John Jonah

YENAGOA (Sundiata Post) – Engineers have been advised to show interest in national politics in order to ensure sustainable development of infrastructural projects in Nigeria.

Governments at all levels in the country were also urged to give engineers lead roles at the level of policy conception through construction and maintenance of projects.

Former deputy governor of Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd), gave the advice last weekend while delivering a lecture in Yenagoa on the theme, Engineers in Politics: A Convergence for National Infrastructural Development.

The Fifth Annual Lecture and First Memorial Lecture of Prof. Telimoye M. Oguara, was organised by Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Yenagoa Branch to celebrate late Prof. Oguara’s contributions towards engineering development in Nigeria.

Gboribiogha stressed that ministries with mainly engineering functions should be headed by engineers just as doctors and lawyers head theirs pointing out that any other option will result in irregular and dysfunctional pattern of development.

The former deputy governor who is also a marine engineer said if Nigeria must catch up with fast engineering economies, there is need to delibratetly avoid the selective application of professionals to manage critical sectors of our national lives.

Saying the present involvement of engineers at both national and state executive levels appears to be influenced mere by political patronage, he stated that “policy formulation and planning for infrastructural development must be led by professional engineers and the country is not lacking in their supply”.

He called on more engineers to be engage in active politics pointing out that governments should know that an engineer managing a correctional centre or a lawyer managing the Works and Housing Ministry is politics gone too far and not in the interest of infrastructural development. 

Gboribiogha said, “A simple reversal of these roles would have facilitated improved supervision of our projects for the sustainable development of the nation’s physical Infrastructure. This is the strategic leadership issue that must be addressed to spark economic growth and improvement in the quality of life in the country. 

“There is a clear need to put round pegs in round holes or prepare for the consequences of the choices. We must understand clearly that adequate project supervision is central to successful economic execution of physical Infrastructural projects”.

He noted that the federal cabinet has just five engineers and not all of them hold engineering related portfolios saying, “Some portfolios that are better handled by professional engineers are being handled by others as illustrated in two glaring cases, namely the ministries of Transport and Works where pure political patronage at the expense of development appears to have been the determining factor in assigning those portfolios. There was even a time in the past when a lawyer was holding three “engineering specific ministries” works, housing and power”.

Gboribiogha said only 12 out of the 109 senators in the National Assembly are engineers while only four governors out the 36 state governors are engineers with three other governors that have related qualifications in engineering such as architecture and quantity survey.

Urging action to reverse the trend in the country for future development, he said, “The world is driven by knowledge and Nigeria is not lacking in that.”

Earlier, chairman of the occasion who is also the national president of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Mr. Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari-Wudil, said engineers have distanced themselves from politics for too long and it has not in any way helped them or the country.

Gidari-Wudil said NSE has been giving financial support to members who want to go into politics and urged members to invest in politics especially in any candidate that will make the difference.

In his welcome address, the chairman, Bayelsa State chapter of NSE, Mr. James Karimo Sokari, said the body at all levels is worried about non involvement of engineers by government and engineers not strategically positioning themselves politically to give bearing to government policies with regards to the technological development of the society.

Sokari said in recent times governments both at the federal and state levels including Bayelsa State have not been appointing engineers into cabinet positions to take the lead in advising governments on technologically related decisions.

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