By Okey Muogbo
On Monday, one more honour was bestowed on Engr. Habu Gumel. For many Nigerians and indeed global sports enthusiasts, the name Gumel rings bell. Even for those who are familiar with the name, not many would have probably seen him physically. For a man with very poor capabilities in blowing his own trumpet, it is therefore surprising how his name became so popular.
Gumel has been elected for induction into the Nigerian Academy of Engineering on that fateful Monday, the graduate of Civil and Structural Engineering will be inducted into the Prestigious body for his monumental contributions to the Engineering profession. Because of his low skill in self-advertisement, many people have not known the many contributions this Soviet Union Engineering graduate has made in his 36 years of professional practice.
Once, at a function organized by alumni of the collapsed Soviet Union schools, one after the other, the alumnus spoke glowingly about their days in the USSR, and of course, they bragged about the high quality of Education they received there. Those present who didn’t schools in Russia instantly dismissed their claims as self-ego massaging. But somehow as you come at close range with them, you begin to give them a large dose of credit for scholarship and hard work. Gumel wasn’t there that day; even if he was there, he doesn’t by nature try to promote himself, he wouldn’t probably have flaunted anything.
The Jigawa state born Engineer is a strong believer in the philosophy of “let my works speak for me.” Because his contributions to the Profession are monumental, they could no longer be hidden; they have always thrown him up into the public glare. For example in his congratulatory message to the soft-spoken Engineer, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs, Alhaji Kabiru TanimuTuraki, SAN, FCIArb, wrote, “Your induction is a reflection of your numerous and solid contributions in the field of Engineering which like a glowing candlelight, cannot be hidden. This recognition, no doubt, highlights your dogged and well known advocacy for sound Engineering regulation, control and practice.
“Only few men like you have achieved recognitions at community, professional, national and international levels.” The Honourable Minister is dead right. Many Nigerians struggle real hard just to maintain their names on the nominal roll of their professional bodies but few people like Gumel keep adding honours and fellowships even across Disciplines/professions.
In nominating Engr. Gumel, the Nigerian Academy of Engineering wrote that the nominee is, “an engineer of note who has brought into play, ideas of selfless service and dedication as enshrined in the canons of the Engineering profession. This has inspired the Council of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering at its meeting of March 6, 2014 to elect him a fellow of the Academy”. So what are Gumel’s contributions to engineering and humanity?
It is to the credit of the Civil Engineering Institute, Kiev, Russia 1976 graduate that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) conceptualised, designed and implemented the 1994/95 National Mass Housing Programme which saw to the construction and commissioning of over 10,000 housing units in various parts of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of Nigeria. He cut his teeth in this noble profession at the Bauchi State Co-operative Building Association Limited in 1977 from where he later became the director of Engineering in the Bauch State Agricultural Development Programme, a World Bank programme where he accomplished wide ranging projects in road construction, water supply and sanitation which benefitted over 5,000 communities and villages in Bauchi state. It was his performance in Bauchi that earned him a position at the FHA. For close to a decade and until 2009, Gumel was director of Facilities and stadia Development under the National Sports Commission. For his commitment to his chosen profession, Engr. Gumel was elected President of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) and again, between 1998 and 20011985 he was President, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
As a matter of fact, one citation on this tireless public administrator in one of his numerous awards reads, “his professional expertise in the design and implementation of wide-ranging infrastructural projects under the National Lottery Trust Fund is not in doubt and his effective contributions as vice-chairman, Railway Infrastructure Development in the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P) of the current (federal) administration has continued to validate his excellent track record of professionalism and leadership in Civil and Structural Engineering practice in Nigeria.”
At the world level, Habu Gumel is currently representing Nigeria in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He has also helped to develop wide-range of consultancy projects for international sporting organizations like the Federation of International Volleyball Association.
As stated earlier, the June 16 induction is not the only honour that has been bestowed on Gumel. He was awarded the distinguished national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and a Doctor of Science Degree (Honoris Causa) by the Commonwealth University in Belize (2011). He is a fellow of both the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Institute of Management.
And still, Gumel continues to work and to serve humanity.
Okey Muogbo via email@example.com