Time to close engineering departments in Nigeria

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engineering departments

A king paid some foreign professional tailors to teach his villagers how to sow clothes. After learning, the villagers requested for cotton-materials to begin sewing clothes for the whole village, but the king refused. Instead, the king sells the cotton-materials to foreigners, while his guards protect the cotton-farms and warehouses. Eventually, many villagers lost faith and interest in learning/practicing sewing, and locked up the ‘useless’ tailoring school. With the restriction of access to mineral resources for production, it becomes necessary to close down all engineering departments in Nigeria.


Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.[1] Engineers are among the most important people in every society, as they develop the physical structure of the society. After conceiving great ideas of society’s physical structures, leaders depend on scientists and engineers to actualize those ideas. The success and sustenance of every society depends, not only on leaders’ decisions, but also on engineers’ efficiency and availability. In hospitals, schools, residences, playgrounds, churches, offices, markets, roads, bridges, combats and general life, engineering roles cannot be overemphasized.


There are three sectors of production or physical productivity in every society.[2]

  • Primary production (extraction or gathering): this is the process of extracting or harvesting natural resources in one’s environment in their crude form. Activities in this sector includes Mining (coal, copper, crude oil, gold or any mineral resource), fishing, forestry and farming.[3]


The machines used for this primary production – mining, fishing, forestry and farming – are produced by engineers.


  • Secondary production (processing): this is the process of refining, manufacturing and constructing finished goods from the extracted crude resources. This includes steel work, engine-constructions, buildings, purification and many other industrial processes that prepares the resources for use.[4]


This stage is proper to engineers, who have been trained to purify and process crude resources. The process of converting crude resources into finished goods for the society is often complex and lengthy. Hence, engineers are often organized in groups to specialize in specific levels or sections of a particular production. For instance, producing a car involves working on steal, glass, rubber and other raw materials that combine to form a car. So, different engineers specialize in different parts and stages of this production for their efficiency.


  • Tertiary production (distribution): This is the process of distributing refined resources for the development and satisfaction of human needs in the society. The success of the tertiary production is dependent on the success of the primary and secondary. It involves legal, accounting, customer, distribution and maintenance services.[5] Doctors treat patients with scanners, syringe and other machines made available by engineers; pharmacists make drugs using machines from engineers; drivers, builders, musicians, pastors, teachers, programmers, designers, phone-callers, all use machines from engineers. There may not be any modified physical material we touch that has not undergone stages of processing by several engineers.


Unfortunately, Nigerian engineers (within Nigeria) may never share in this glorious function of social creativity and fulfilment despite their good results. They may never be able to produce real machines that can be used for other levels of productivity. The Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act restricts Nigerian’s access to mineral resources, as it states:

“… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”[6] “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.[7]The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”[8]


Because of this militarized restriction of access to mineral resources, trained Nigerian engineers are unable to demonstrate their creativity. Instead, many of them have resorted to importing, coupling and selling foreign machines, commodities and services. And those who do not have enough capital for importing and selling learn to repair imported ones when they spoil. The brightest of them are absorbed into foreign companies who extract Nigeria’s mineral resources or provide goods and services.


Today, many engineers have been employed to use their production calculations in counting the exchange of imported goods and services. Many of the well-trained Nigerian engineers now work in banks, management, auditing, insurance and other service providing firms. And their counterparts in Asia, America and Europe continue to produce commodities for importation to Nigeria. Yet, different Nigerian governments emphasize their dedication for sponsoring science and technology students,[9] who end up working in banks.


Sponsoring engineers who will not gain access to mineral resources for production is like training tailors who will not get sewing materials. Unless the Nigerian government is willing to release their stranglehold on access to resources, engineering departments in Nigeria may be closed. Some students eventually spend huge sums in engineering departments only to mimic productions in other countries. Local manufacturing companies, who import processed materials at high prices, may not break even, as they try to couple machines.


The cost of sustaining engineering departments in Nigeria may, thus, be considered a leaking cost.

[1] Oxford online dictionary. S.V. engineering https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/engineering

[2] http://www.learnmanagement2.com/industrialsectorsprimarytertiarysecondary.htm

[3] Ibid

[4] Cf. Ibid

[5] Cf. Ibid

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[7] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[8] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[9] John-Bosco Agbakwuru,” FG declares state of emergency on science and technology” in Vanguard 03-08-2017 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/08/bars-foreign-professionals-without-nigerian-certification/