Chineme Okafor and Peace Ewere in Abuja
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) wednesday said its members across the country do not have the skill set to blow up petroleum pipelines, thus refuting a recent claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that professionals with engineering skills and not ordinary Nigerians were involved in the blowing up of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
Buhari reportedly made the observation during his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE) at the State House in Abuja.
He said: “If I will go in the negative side, how can an ordinary Nigerian go into the sea, 70 kilometres or more, go down two metres and blow up oil installations? That cannot be an ordinary Nigerian.
“So, I hope you will appeal to your colleagues to make sure that what we have built, they should safeguard it; whether they are working with multi-nationals or the government.”
But speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on the outcome of the African Engineering Conference on Energy which was held recently in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the President of NSE, Otis Anyaeji stated that the society was sure none of its registered members had engaged in pipelines vandalism in the country.
Anyaeji said Buhari might have made such remarks in passing, maintaining that no member of the NSE had even been found guilty of contributing to the incessant collapse of houses in the country.
“Engineers bombing pipeline is impossible. Our registered members don’t even get involved in building collapses that are happening all over the country not to talk of engineers using dynamites to bomb pipelines,” Anyaeji said.
He further stated: “That is not part of the skillset of our members and engineers.”
Anyaeji also spoke on the state of Nigeria’s refineries in Warri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt, saying they have been left to rot for too long by incompetent government policies and not bad engineering practices at the refineries.
He said it was not true that the refineries were old and may not be able to work optimally again as often stated.
According to him: “I am an engineer. It is not only new refineries that work. The refineries can be rehabilitated, retrofitted and made new again and it does not matter how old they are.
“There are parts of the refineries that are sensitive and there are others that do not even need complete overhaul as often said, we have just not been following the maintenance requirements. This is doable and should be done.”