Disquiet as Nigerian Society of Engineers Holds Annual Meeting

0

By Chris Robert

As the cracks deepen and the National Conference/Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), tagged KANO 2019 approaches, things appears to have really fallen apart and the center appears to have no grip again on Nigerian Engineers across all geopolitical zones of the country.

Events following the botched June 27, 2019 Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM) indicates the hands of a very few, manipulating the current president of the body, Engr Adekunle Mokuolu, FNSE as he continues to somersault in his weekly policy change proposals, letters of apology and invitations to aggrieved Nigerian Engineers to join him in Kano in December 2019 to fine twist the Memorandum and Articles of Associations (MemArt) of the professional body, which is described by one of the very senior engineers in the South East Region as “the mother of all crisis and the battle of Armageddon in NSE”.

In the events following the botched EGM, engineers from some of the aggrieved zones notably the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones met in July 2019 and agreed to send petitions bordering on their grievances and the conditions for settlement to the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the NSE in Abuja. The petitions were sent in two modes (as regional and individual federating branches of the body). According to a serving branch chairman in the south-south oil rich region who spoke angrily about the attitude of the board of trustees, he was quoted as follows: “The Board of Trustees who we thought is the conscience of the society received our petitions and began to play politics with it.
“The BOT received our petitions and deliberately kept them under the carpet thinking it was business as usual. Some members of the BOT who are majorly past presidents and suspected to have played major roles in frustrating the EGM on June 27, 2019 made attempts to downplay the petitions and rather resorted to helping the president, Engr Adekunle Mokuolu to convene a meeting of the past presidents with some prominent members of the aggrieved geopolitical regions to bargain and negotiate for a truce to give the president a soft-landing. The meeting failed to achieve its desired objective as all the invitees turned down their invitations to meet with the body of past presidents, which they alleged was illegal and not recognized by the same MemArt whose amendments they thwarted”.

Another aggrieved frontline member of the body was quoted as follows: “Soon after the meeting of past presidents failed woefully to hold, some key plotters in the failed past presidents project who are members of the BOT and also suspected to be ‘the hand of Esau’, while the president is ‘the voice of Jacob’ in the current script that is been played out in the NSE hurriedly arranged a meeting with representatives of the aggrieved members from the various geopolitical zones. The invitation by the BOT deliberately excluded representatives of some branches for reasons best known to them.

“As least I am aware that representatives of Uyo Branch of the body were carefully and deliberately sidelined from the invitation to attend the meeting. I’m also aware that, the Uyo branch put across several calls and messages to Abuja for them to be invited to attend the meeting, but were rebuffed and representatives of the branch finally forced themselves to attend the meeting of the BOT in Abuja without any official invitation to the meeting.

“In spite of all the hiccups that greeted the Abuja meeting, the BOT confessed that, their hands were tied and they could not solve the problem as their limitations empowers them only to the extent of making recommendations to council for consideration, hence the representatives who attended the meeting departed Abuja without any reasonable message to their members back home. Rather than wait for the outcome of the BOT meeting with representatives of the aggrieved engineersEngr Adekunle Makuolu hurriedly packaged an “apology” letter titled The Price Of Growth And Progress, which he released and was made viral on the internet.

“Prior to the release of the apology letter, we were aware that, Engr Mokuolu had surreptitiously prepared a zoning formula which was to be pushed through the throat of council members for ratification and eventually taken to the Annual General Meeting in Kano in December, 2019. In his zoning proposal with his cabal, he merged all the North West, North Central and North East geopolitical zones of the country with 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory as the new Northern geographical zone; the south east and south-south geopolitical zones with 11 states state were grouped as Eastern geopolitical zone, while the south west geopolitical zone as presently constituted with only 6 states was not touched, but rather isolated and called the Western geographical zone. Who do they think they are fooling?”

It was further learnt that, that new geographical zoning plan secretly orchestrated by the President and some members of his kitchen cabinet hit the rocks immediately the information leaked to some privileged members. The proposal was vehemently opposed by very senior members of the body of the northern extraction as they saw it as a plot to truncate their zones and meddle it up as against the South West. They considered the attempt as a professional, regional and ethnic insult.

Soon after the crash of the secret zoning plot to allocate geographical zones by fiat as orchestrated by the cabal, the President again summoned Council members to attend an Emergency Council Meeting on 1st November, 2019 with the following as agenda: “(i) To consider and review, if necessary, the MemArt Review Resolution of Council meeting of March 21, 2019. (ii) To approve that the MemArt as in(i) above be taken to the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in Kano of adoption. (iii) To approve the agenda of the 2019 Annual General Meeting to be held on December 5, 2019 by 10:00am in Kano, Kano State.”

This invitation to attend the emergency council meeting was greeted by several excuses for absenteeism, by most council members, while the branch chairmen of the south-south and south-east geopolitical zones completely boycotted the emergency council meeting as they alleged that, the main issue for discussions in the emergency council meeting centered on rotational presidency which is the same item on the agenda of the June 27, 2019 EGM which was scuttled by the President and his godfathers.

A past president and fellow of the body, Engr Dr Emeka Ezeh, OFR a former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), in spite of his excuse for absence, queried why an emergency council meeting should hold on November 1, 2019 when the earlier scheduled council meeting is underway on November 14, 2019 (less than two weeks apart). He wondered where the President expect council members to source for resources to carry out the expected expenditures.

The emergency council meeting eventually held on Wednesday November 1, 2019 with less than fifty percent of council members in attendance. During the meeting, a proposal for the rotation of the office of the Deputy President (who is automatically the in-coming President of the body) along “Two Geographical Zones” of North and South was handed down to Council Members in attendance who eventually gulped the proposal without a word.

Resolution 7(0), (r) & (s) of the proposed amendments by council states as follows:

(o)    “Two Geographical Zone” shall mean the Northern and Southern Zones of the                       Federal Republic of Nigeria comprising of the States listed as:

i.              Northern Zone: Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and FCT.

ii.            Southern Zone: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Rivers. 

 

 (r)    For the purpose of electing the Deputy President, qualified members shall be                        eligible to stand for election from any of the Geographical Zone if that Zone falls                       within his jurisdiction of practice or residence. 

(s)     “Six Geographical Zones” shall mean the Six Geographical Zones of the                                   Federal Republic of Nigeria comprising of the Zones listed as:

i.              North-Central: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and FCT;

                  ii.      North-East: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe;

                  iii.     North-West: Jigawa,       Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and                                           Zamfara;

                  iv.     South-East: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo;

                  v.      South-South: Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo and Rivers;

                  vi.     South-West: Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.

Article 34(7) of the proposal amendment states that: “The Deputy President shall be elected in rotation from the Northern and Southern Zones of the country in accordance with the electoral guidelines approved by Council.”

Article 34(11) provides that: “Candidates for the post of Vice President shall be elected  from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country in consonance with the electoral guides approved by Council.” while Article 34 (12) states that: “The six other members of the Executive Committee shall be elected from each of the six geopolitical zones from among members who should have been Corporate Members of the Society for at least 10 years, who are Nigerians whose subscriptions, dues and levies are not arrears”.

Speaking on the issue, a branch chairman from the South-South axis of the body said: “The godfathers ruling the cabal are not ready for peace. In their Emergency Council Meeting held on 1st November, 2019, though we boycotted the meeting, you can see from the publication made in the newspaper that, the only important business of the day during the Emergency Council Meeting was to continue to inflict injury on the already bleeding professional body as those in attendance only went there to echo ‘approved-approved’ to the already prepared script of the cabal. Otherwise, how can one explain the idea of having the various geopolitical zones as enshrined in our country’s constitution produce the Vice President and Exco members, then jettison the idea of rotating the office of the Deputy President who automatically becomes the next president among the existing six Geopolitical Zones, but rather choose to zone it under what the cabal earlier called the ‘Two Professional Zones’, which they renamed the ‘Two Geographical zones’ of the North and South. This clearly shows their intent to continue to cause crisis and disaffection in the already inflicted professional body which is almost bleeding to death under the undue pressure of the tiny few who have turned the professional body to their dining tables”.

As the body prepares to present the amendments carried out during the Council meeting to the floor of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 5th December, 2019 in Kano for ratification, it is predicted that the proposal will not see the light of the day as it is likely to be truncated by the same cabal who have proposed the amendments as they have sworn not to let go their selfish grip on the already strangulated engineering professional body in Nigerian.

The body as described by one of its prominent members from one of the North Central States, is sitting on a keg of gunpowder and if the events leading to KANO 2019 is not properly handled, then the professional body is likely to go up in flames, which may likely lead to its final and irreparable disintegration, as the Centre has shown incapability to hold all the aggrieved regions together due to the continuous deepening cracks in the professional body.

 *Robert writes from Lagos