The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) at the weekend inaugurated Margaret Oguntala, a fellow and former deputy president of the society, as its first female president in its 65 years of existence.
Dignitaries who attended the event, including the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, Governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde and his Ondo counterpart, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, said that the emergence of Oguntala marked a major triumph for gender equality in the country.
Speaking at the investiture of Oguntala as the 34th president of the group in Abuja, Akpabio who hinged his address on: “Rebirthing the Nigeria Society of Engineers for the Growth, Empowerment and Advancement of Engineering,” described it as a milestone, saying she had shattered the glass ceiling for women.
“Today, we celebrate the progress our society has made in promoting gender equality and inclusivity in the field of engineering. Oguntala’s appointment serves as a powerful testament to the fact that talent, dedication, and expertise know no gender boundaries.
“It is a clear indication that the NSE recognises and values the invaluable contributions of women in shaping the future of engineering. Thirty-three men have come before her, serving as presidents of this great body.
“They have worked tirelessly to make the NSE the outstanding professional organisation it is today. Let us applaud their efforts. However, the time has come for the NSE to enter the labour room and give birth to a new version of itself,” he advised .
Akpabio who was represented by his Deputy, Senator Barau Jibrin, argued that it was only fitting that a mother, who knows the pains of giving birth, should be in charge of the proposed rebirth.
He stressed that the NSE faces numerous obstacles that hinder its growth and development, noting that one area that demands immediate attention is the enhancement of engineering education and training.
According to the senate president, Nigeria must strive to equip its engineers with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete on a global scale through partnerships with educational institutions, industry leaders, and professional organisations.
Besides, he noted that the country must address the issue of inadequate infrastructure and technological advancements as it possesses immense potential for growth and development.
He urged the NSE to reach out to Nigerian engineers in the Diaspora and convince them to come home and share their skills.
The senate president stated that focus must be on empowering engineers, especially the younger generation and urged the professionals to embrace diversity and inclusivity
In his remarks, Oyo governor, Makinde stated that Nigeria has a lot to learn from the emergence of Oguntala as the president, having campaigned vigorously to earn the position.
He lauded the NSE in Ibadan for leading the efforts to review the structural integrity of the houses around the area of last week’s explosion, stressing that about 230 houses had so far been checked by the NSE.
Also speaking, Ondo governor, Aiyedatiwa expressed joy that a female was leading the group in a male-dominated field and highlighted the need to ensure that women get to positions of leadership in the country.
He stressed that Oguntala had crossed several hurdles to become the president, describing her as a woman of substance.
The governor argued that building Nigeria rests on the shoulders of engineers and technologists and told them to salvage the economy and ensure young people play active roles in nation building.
In her maiden address, Oguntala promised to enhance mandatory professional development, pledging to make top priority the continuous learning, retraining, and upskilling of members.
Besides, she stated that under her watch, the NSE shall embrace innovation and technological advancement as its guiding principles, encourage research and development, support innovative start-ups, and champion engineering solutions that address the unique challenges faced by our nation.
“We should in our private closets be at the forefront of technological change and make Nigeria a hub for engineering innovation,” she added.
She also advocated Vocational Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (VSTEM) education for young people, recognising that nurturing the talents of young minds is essential for the future of our nation.
“We will strategically endow dedicated institutions, ensuring that VSTEM education thrives and cultivates a generation of STEM leaders. By investing in VSTEM, we lay the foundation for a prosperous Nigeria driven by innovation and excellence,” she added.
In terms of advocacy and collaboration, she explained that engineers, as stewards of progress, must engage with communities to address pressing issues, from infrastructure gaps to sustainable development.
Among others, she vowed to formulate a policy to compel employers of labour to pay commensurate welfare packages/hazard allowances for engineers and md promote Nigerian-made goods and services.
Also speaking, the outgoing President of the NSE, Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, expressed joy that he had also made history as the first NSE president to hand over to a woman.
He lauded Oguntala for being instrumental to the success of his tenure, stressing that the new NSE head was directly involved in most of the breakthroughs recorded in the last one year.