Expert urges Chemical Engineers to explore opportunities in diversification in non-oil Economy
A Project and Manufacturing consultant, Engr. (Dr.) Julius Sunday Bolujoko has encouraged burgeoning engineers to look into the technology and innovation inherent along the value chain in the non-oil diversification of the nation’s economy and make the most of it, rather than applying for jobs after graduation. He gave this charge on Thursday, February 15, 2018, as the guest speaker at the Town and Gown seminar of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Covenant University.
Delivering a lecture on the topic, ‘Investment in Technology and Innovation Option: for Diversification in Non-Oil Economy’, Engr. Bolujoko, who is the Managing Director of Rich Investment and Manufacturing Limited, said it was not by accident that the Nigerian government is currently focusing on non-oil diversification of the economy, while strengthening the manufacturing sector to play its expected role in development and employment generation.
He noted that a very large chunk of the nation’s budgetary appropriation was committed to payment of salaries, and little goes to fund capital projects, while approximately 50% of the nation’s youth were unemployed. Hence the government’s imperative of exploring non-oil alternatives in a bid to foster sustainable economic development. The government, he observed, is coming to terms with the importance of technology and innovation in the actualization of its programmes and as such, how Nigeria moves forward depends on youth training and development toward unique approaches in resolving problems, thereby creating solutions.
Citing agricultural production and processing as an example of where opportunities abound, the guest speaker said that Chemical Engineers could fit into almost any industry. He urged them to identify areas of farm and support practices (planting and harvesting), varieties and yield support, production processes, packaging, quality assurance, and export support to make valid contributions. Engr. Bolujoko, who notably served as the first Nigerian Technical Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc, said that Chemical Engineers could latch onto opportunities offered by agricultural products where Nigeria has a national advantage. These include cocoa, cotton, ginger, cashew, tea, onion, garlic, sesame seed, and palm oil among others. “Nigeria has no business being poor if these areas of advantage were well explored for commercial gain. We have to find out what exactly we can do, key in, and make the most of it,” he said.
The guest speaker, who was at the seminar in company of his wife, Dr. Funke Bolujoko (a retired public health officer with the World Health Organisation), emphasised that it was important for the students to prepare their minds for what to do post-graduation, especially towards becoming an employer of labour as employment opportunities were on the decline.
In his welcome remarks, the Head, Department of Chemical Engineering, Professor Vincent Efeobovkhan, pointed out that aside aiming to bring people from the industry to impart the students with what they are likely to see in the industry, the University considered the likelihood of collaboration between the institution and the industry to solve engineering problems. He advised the students to pay attention to the lecture, with a view to learning from the experience.
Also at the seminar were faculty and staff of the Chemical Engineering department.