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Tuesday, 27 November 2012 00:00
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‘Nigeria can feed West Africa with electricity’

•Hajia KuchiOgbori Ozigi Kadri works with the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria (PHCN) as a transmission engineer. He is responsible for the transmission of power from 230KVA to 33KVA level at Egbin. Recently, the amiable engineer met with JOHNSON FAGBAMILA and he spoke about why Nigeria is not enjoying  Uninterrupted power supply, the impediments of the engineering profession in Nigeria, the forces negating its advancement, the energy crisis in Nigeria and what to expect in the nearest future, and other related issues.

The power situation in Nigeria is in a sorry state, thus, , the resort to alternative provision of power such as solar energy, generators etc. what actually went wrong?
Let me say from the on set that Nigeria is not supposed to have energy crisis as we have it now because Nigeria has abundant sources of primary energy. We have great sun that we can convert to solar energy, we have cool as primary fuelling, we have water for hydro generation of energy, we have uranium somewhere in jos for nuclear energy. We are not supposed to have energy crisis but I think somehow, by not being able to manage our resources well, something went wrong.

Will that have anything to do with the crop and quality of our local engineers?
Largely yes. Largely government intervention and largely politics as well as the mentallity of the people. It has to do with the politicizing of everything. Engineering itself that is supposed to help humanity has not been channeled towards that level. We don’t have people with set objectives as engineers. Again, this has to do with politics. They are not properly harnessed or properly structured to carry out engineering practice because of the environment, the mind set and probably the forces behind them. Mixing politics with engineering has destroyed the profession. You don’t mix engineering with politics. It is impossible. Engineering is based on total facts, while politic is based on made up ideas. They canmot go together and if you mix them, there will be a tilt in the progress of the profession. Then the mentality of our people goes a long way in the advancement of the profession in the country.

The mentality of the people is that we all have to make money (at all cost, and by any means). Engineering is not about making money. It is about improving on what God has done. It is about bettering the life of humanity. So, politics, the government attitude and the practice of the profession in Nigeria has greatly eroded its productivity.

You mean the government does not encourage the profession?
That is very true. Government itself has non productive educational plans from the primary, secondary  and polythecnics through the university. For example, you are producing scholars and when they come out of school, you encourage them to apply the knowledge they acquired. That is what we call education. You apply your knowledge. You exhume facts from the environment and use it to solve societal problem. That is what we call education. Education is not otherwise.  We just have literates not scholars. Education is the ability to exhume facts and applly them practically.

The government herself is not encouraging this. First of all, the environment is faulty in  not providing the right mentality for education, the government is faulty in not providing the right way for engineering practice from the primary level down to the industries, somebody that studies science and engineering should be encouraged to get to the epogee of his profession. This does not exist in Nigeria.Once you graduate, you are looking for a paid job. Nobody to encourage you to be iunnovate and creative. To explore, to discover, to invent. There was a time here when engineering graduates were going into the banks. To go and do what? That is stupid. That is boycotting the objectives of the profession. If you love the profession you stick to it. Just like soldiers, engineers are to help the society.

You said engineering is a tripod, the government, the professionals and the society. What does thgat mean?
They are all interwoven. One cannot exist independent of the other. It is unnversal. Everything that is done abroad can be done in Nigeria. It is all about simple thinking. We can do better in Nigeria. Engineering infrastructure and creativity is basic target of the engineering profession. The inability to buy ideas as a product is one of the problems in engineering. Society should know that we can go nowhere without engineering.

Why do you think government prefers foreign engineering to their local counterparts?
To be factual, the basic calling of engineering and the study of engineering all over the world are the same but when you graduate, you are also to be guarded by the government, to put you in sophisticated industries where you are to practice what you learn in school and then be perfect or near perfect. Practice makes perfect. But in our own case, we don’t have industries like they do abroad. What we have are makeshift industries that call themselves industries. You can be there for several years but everything that do there, they are importing them. Look at the cement industries. You find out that even most of the cement are imported, rebagged, rebranded and put in the market for sale. The engineers attype of companies cannot learn. What they learn is commerce and engineering in not about commerce. It is after the design that commerce comes. You you design properly, make sure it works before you cost.

That still has to do with creativity…
At creation,God made everybody and everything perfect. We too are small gods because the bible says that we are made in Gods image. God has given everybody ability. Ability to create and innovation and improve on things around you. You are supposed to take a raw material and transform it to something new, something novel. From the beginning of human existence, human being have being able to advance father from one stage to the other. They have been able to use stone to make fire. When there were no weapons they were using spears to kill animals. That is creativity. Ability to solve your problem and move forward.  Engineering is supposed to look at all these. Have raw ideas and better it. That is why you are having GSM and all that. GSM does not start immediately as GSM.

It is just am improvement on existing technology. It started with ackward things and they didn't give up on it. The first computer was as big as a building. Look at it now. This same computer, you have the iPod, you have the laptop. There is even a computer that is as small as my handset. The bottom line is that don’t be ashamed of starting crude, it is the ability to start crude that makes you advance. The stop comparing yourself with the man in Europe. The man in Europe started a long time ago and he can show you his track record. You don’t make record without past experience. You build on experience to advance. You make record when you build on something. You advance on an existing project. Take computer for example you improve on it.

You start from somewhere and you gradually build on it. That is what is happening in Asia. They imported the technology from Europe no doubt but they improved on it.  Take a look at what is happening in Asia today. They are solidly on their feet technology wise. The PHCN as it today supposed to be manufacturing transformers. We are not supposed to be importing transformers. We can even supply the whole of the West Africa sub region just as it is done in Europe. Even common workshops in Europe produce transformers. Can we do that in Nigeria? No. in Nigeria we import common pin. That is so unbecoming of a race. We are still living in the past country. We don’t have any technological culture. I am not saying we are not intelligent. We are, but we don’t have the structure. we should be able to here a well defined technological culture. From there, we can be able to advance to the next level. Nigeria is blessed with both human and natural resources that can be hermessed to our advancement. We will get there.

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