I am highly honoured to be invested today as the 11th President of Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN). With humility I accept to serve Nigeria women engineers, the engineering profession and humanity. I give glory to God.
What is APWEN?
APWEN is a Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and a non-governmental organization for women engineers in all engineering disciplines. Its mission is to stimulate women engineers to achieve excellence in the profession and in leadership. As such, APWEN provides the avenue for promoting women’s interest in engineering. It encourages sound engineering studies and practice and creates the platform by which women engineers can collaborate with women in other professions in Nigeria and the global community. APWEN has come a long way and is still has a long way to go.
When I started my engineering career, I was not a member of APWEN until I met Engr. Valeria Agberagba who impressed on me that to make an impact in my profession I must do extraordinary thing s; to effect change one must act and not just talk about it. The advice I took to heart.It propelled to view my profession with passion, and made me determine to contribute my own quota . I became an active member of NSE and APWEN to have a perfect platformto impact the world of engineering.
I am grateful to Valerie Agberagba, for her inspiration.
I commend my 'predecessors on their vision and good work done thus far to promote the cause of APWEN. i promise to build on the foundation laid. APWEN dream is deeply rooted and intertwined with the dreams and aspirations of the Nigerian Society of engineers. It would be recalled that the incumbent NSE, President, Engr. Olumuyiwa Ajibola, In his inaugural address articulated the role of engineers in national development and how they can drive a revolution in science and technology in Nigeria. Therefore, as a Division of NSE, APWEN during my tenure will work closely with the leadership of NSE to actualize not just the aspiration of APWEN but also those of NSE. 'Hard work and sincere commitment shall be our guiding principle because whatever we do today will define our tomorrow.
In the next two years of my tenure, we shall build our capacity through tailor-made seminars and conferences in line with the continuing development programme adopted by NSE. I have identified the lack of entrepreneurial and managerial skills amongst women engineers. This we shall address by organizing relevant courses and seminars where possible while encouraging our members to undertake career enhancement programmes.
It is a fact that the number of girls compared to boys who are studying engineering is quite small. We are intervening by sensitizing the youths especially the female child in secondary schools through career talks, lectures, scholarship awards, mentoring, provision of science equipment and more. We shall sustain the advocacy for more girls' participation in engineering studies as there is no gender bias in this profession. The present prize giving / scholarship award to the best female science student in the Junior and Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations - a laudable program of the Abuja Chapter - shall be recommended to all APWEN chapters to adopt as a tool for motivation.
APWEN'S Spread and Membership Drive
We shall continue to work with all NSE Branch Chairmen towards the establishment of APWEN chapters in their domains. This we hope, will sustain the growth of APWEN nationwide while encouraging women engineers to be more professionally oriented and keen at registering with NSE to enjoy the benefits.
Some of us may be wondering why there is much representation of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The fact is that I belong to the Nigerian Air Force family. My association with the NAF is both in terms of the engineering profession and marriage. Professionally, Air Force is an engineering driven organization. I have had cause to interact with my engineering colleagues in the NAP. Let it be known that a revolution in aeronautic engineering has already started in the NAF as most of the engineering maintenance services of air crafts are now being done locally. We are aware that there is the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology which is affiliated to Cranfield University in the UK. We in APWEN are ready to partner with the NAF to make this Institute a centre of excellence in aeronautic engineering in this sub region. We are also ready to partner with other engineering organizations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, in research and development to provide engineering solutions as required. My appeal is that more women engineers should be given the chance to prove their worth in the public and private sector.
APWEN is also involved in humanitarian and other activities that enhance the quality of life of our women folk. Ladies and gentlemen, we do much more. For more information about our activities please visit our website, www.apwen.org.
I cannot fail to appreciate the support of my professional colleagues, friends and well- wishers who are here present and those who are not able to be here to grace this occasion.
Permit me to acknowledge the support of my family, particularly my one-in-a-million husband, Air Vice Marshal S. J. Usoro. The saying is that "behind every successful woman there is a supporting man". This is true of my husband. To my parents, Dr and Mrs Lugard Etuk, who nurtured and sacrificed to educate me, to my children, brothers and sisters, I say thank you for your support and encouragement.
I acknowledge my colleagues and staff of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Urban Development and the Nigerian Society of Engineers, who have guided me towards professional excellence. In particular, I acknowledge Engr. G.O. Nsonwu for inculcating in me his work ethics, that is, his meticulous approach to details; Engr. O.O. Peters imposed his dynamic leadership skills on me; and Engr. K Abdullahi always insists on my focus, perseverance and concern for quality. I appreciate my bosses and colleagues in FERMA for their unflinching support.
I cannot forget my mentors Engr. Ebele Okeke, Engr. Mayen Adetiba, Engr. Idiat Amusu and the founding mothers of APWEN who have impressed on me that irrespective of gender, whatever the mind conceives and truly believes is definitely achievable. To my special friends, Valerie Agberagba, Elizabeth Oricha, Mary Adeniran, Bola Ilemore, my NAFOWA (Nigerian Air Force Officers' Wives Association) sisters and all those whose names I cannot recount, I appreciate you all.
To the Special Guest of Honour, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike and his wife Mrs Folasade Dike, timeliness and perfection are virtues which unknown to you I have imbibed from your exemplary leadership qualities. Thank you for giving me your time and support. To the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Petinrin, his wife Appolonia Petimin and the entire Air Force family, thank you for being here for me.
I also extend my appreciation to all those who have supported me in cash, in kind, spiritually and morally to make this event possible.
This is not a fund raising event, but I know that you are all here not just because you are our friends, husbands, colleagues or development partners but because you believe that women engineers can impact positively the Nigerian engineering landscape. This I interpret to mean that you are willing and ready to support APWEN in all its laudable programs. Our programs demand a lot of sacrifices and resources, so like the legendary Oliver Twist, we now stretch out our hands and solicit for more supporters to join the APWEN train. You may have noticed the appeal card in the programme brochure. There are many items listed but I want to start with the acquisition of an I8-seater bus to aid our outreach programmes. This had earlier been identified as an encumbrance to our set goals. The bus will cost us 6.5million naira. Please make APWEN a part of your giving plan.
As female engineers we have a dream to close-up the gap of female and male engineers in terms of number and performance for the good of Nigeria. You shall be proud of Nigerian
women in the engineering profession as you rise to partner more with APWEN. Thank you for honouring our invitation.