By Funmi Ogundare
The President of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Babagana Mohammed, has said it will prosecute any of its member found culpable in the collapsed eight-storey building that occurred last week at Yar’Adua Drive in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Mohammed who briefed journalists in Lagos, said already its team of engineers had done preliminary investigations and submitted their report to him, adding that it would be sent to the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) for further investigation.
According to him, “I have the report before me, we have seen some infractions. We are going to pass this report straight to COREN, so that further investigations will continue from the council. Am assuring that any of our members caught in this, will face the full wrath of the law.
“We have engineering standards and ethical issues that engineers know about and they must abide by the rules. Of recent, we have an amended Coren Act which empowers us to deal with infractions. Any erring member caught will be made to face a tribunal and we are going to delist such person from our membership and they will face the law. When building collapses, lives are lost. You need to hold somebody responsible for something, and that is how it works everywhere in the world.”
For a building to stand the test of time, the president said there must be an engineering design, adding that Nigerians should stop attributing such collapse to the usual cliche of ‘the Nigerian factor’.
“Before you graduate as an engineer, you pass through different stages of tests and interviews until you get certified to go and practice as an engineer, so there is nothing like the Nigerian factors like corruption. When you are found guilty, you will be delisted and face tribunal. We will still prosecute you. That is why the advocacy is becoming intense now, you cannot invest your money where you will not get anything. For instance, you cannot raise a 10-storey building without talking to an engineer. It does not make sense, because it’s an investment, “Mohammed stressed.
Speaking on how NSE would help the country to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, he said the society was planning to donate N10 million to government and will also made innovations available, adding that it has already set up study groups that would work on producing ventilators that can service five persons at once.
He noted that its members were currently producing about 10,000 facemasks and sanitisers that will be distributed free of charge to Nigerians.
According to him, “We have meeting on Zoom and Webinar with members of our study groups in institutions such as Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi and we are working on innovations on ventilators. I have told the group to break down the cost. I have three to five people who have done ventilators worth N100,000. Am telling them that they can do it at the cost of N50,000. Already am getting good feedbacks from them. We are ready to finance it, that is our contribution to Nigeria and humanity.
“Covid-19 is a war situation that we are all in, it’s not just for health workers. Ventilators are very expensive, it’s about $ 30,000. Chinese and Germany have stopped exporting their medical equipment, so we need to look inwards in Nigeria. We are also making facemasks, fumigators and hand sanitiser, we can afford to produce these for ourselves locally rather than importing them.”
In the face of dwindling economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mohammed stressed the need for engineers to create jobs so as to grow the economy, adding that the government must also be willing to work with engineers.
“So many companies are failing and I have told my engineers that if they cannot afford to create jobs for themselves, they should not work for anybody. We must create jobs for everybody, it’s our duty. We must tell ourselves that we are ready to face it, else the future will be very bleak. As engineers, we are doing our work and coming out with our position papers and we will tell government and they must show the willingness to work with engineers. It is key.
“They need to reduce so many laws. Whatever we are going to do, the law must tie into what we are doing. Government must be deliberate about its policy . We will keep up with the advocacy because Covid 19 has come and everybody is feeling it. The world will never be the same again. We must look within and everybody must come together to move the country forward. It is key.”