By Daniel Dafe
The International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment, IAEG, and the Nigerian Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment, NAEGE, have inducted a member of the association, Dr. Felibens Okoro.
Dr. Okoro is the President of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, in Rivers State.
The UPU President was honoured during the 3rd African Regional Conference of IAEG and 7th Annual Conference of NAEGE that held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos on Wednesday.
At the said event, papers were presented and discussions held on areas that affect the profession and the Nation in general.
Speaking to journalists after his induction as a fellow, Okoro, said: “This year, the focus was on infrastructural and sustainability of our structures and building collapse in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria was discussed. There have been several buildings collapsing in there parts of Nigeria and our business is to proffer solutions. Because the Engineering Geologists are the professionals that are supposed to determine the Geotechnical properties of the soil, and the kind of strength they posses to be able to bear the load of buildings imposed on it. So that’s why I’m in Lagos.”
He continued: “It has been interesting. We have participants from South Africa physically present and we participants from other countries joining us through ZOOM. And then, the papers are presented by researchers who are physically present and others through ZOOM. They are presenting papers online and we can interact with the presenters through technology. Papers presented addressed diverse research works, in different areas. From geotechnical site investigations, Landslide studies, Soil studies for highways and roads and other structures. Because it’s only the Engineering Geologists, the Geophysicist that are able to look into the sub-surface and tell you what is happening.
“No other professional can investigate using non invasive methodology to carry studies several meters deep into the earth. The Geophysicist use non invasive, methodology to carry out pre-construction studies. We use sophisticated equipment to run profiles and inject current into the ground, and measure the resultant potentials that is coming out, to be able us know what is really happening beneath the earth surface.
“So it has been very exciting, it has been interesting. We have been able to do some networking here. In this conference, I’ve met two of my classmates in the university of Ife, Geology department that I’ve not seen for more than 40 years. We met this time, so it’s like a reunion. And that’s great. So when you attend conferences like this, apart from what you’re taking home, the new knowledge, new ideas that you gain from attending, based on the paper presentations and simulated discussions, you also have opportunity to fellowship with your friends and old associates you have not seen for some time. So yes, it has been exciting.”
Speaking on his membership and what led to his induction as a Fellow, he said: “Well, I’m a seasoned professional, and I am an elder in the profession. I didn’t finish school today, I had my first degree BSc Applied Geophysics in 1980 from the University of Ife, and that’s 40 something years now.”
Adding: “So I’m a senior professional in the profession per se. And I can tell you all these years since I graduated, I’ve practiced my profession and I am not a Geophysicist doing all sorts other things to survive. I love my profession and I have been practicing it.
“I’m practicing my profession. Everything I’ve worked on, everything I’ve concentrated on is to practice Geophysics as I was taught. And Geophysics and Engineering Geology are very diverse courses. You can apply it to every facet of our developmental system. If somebody wants to build a structure, even water tank, and you want to find out whether the soil can carry the load of your tank, or you want to build a house, more than one storey, you need to do geotechnical investigation. In our area in the Niger Delta peculiar geological setting and extremely difficult terrain, because salt water intrusion, iron contamination of the groundwater and the over polluted Rivers and water ways you need Geophysicists to determine where you can get fresh water that is not contaminated.
“There is also need to carry micro-seismic vibrations studies of areas where you want impose heavy vibrating equipment and other structures, you must need us. So over the years, I’ve been practicing Geophysics and Geology and I’ve contributed to the profession.
“I’ve been a contributor, both in attending meetings and contributing in terms of paying my dues, and sponsoring activities or students and all that, in the profession.
“That is it. That is the only way you can be a quality member of any association. I am not a passive member of the organization, I am an active member; a corporate member of this organization. And I’ve been contributing my own quota, to the organization,” he said.
Furthermore, the UPU leader, said: “I feel excited that my little contributions have been recognized by the organization, to be a fellow of a professional organization like our is not easy. This is not a club, this is a professional organization. To be a fellow is the highest honour and highest respect you can get in the organization. That is what it means. And I’ll tell you one thing, in this organization, we have 90% of the people from the academia. We have a lot of professors, both ancient and modern professors in the profession. I am in corporate practice, But I have a lot of my colleagues, like my classmate who are now Professors of Engineering Geology. One of my course mates in Ife is now a Professor of Engineering Geology at the University of Ibadan. He also produced about six (6) professors. So, we have a lot of professors here, and for them to pick me, to make me a fellow is a great honour. It also shows the level of appreciation they have for me and the value that is attached to my work as a professional and my contribution to the society.
“So I’m very excited. I don’t think there’s anybody from my place that has risen to this level. So, I’m full of joy and I give all the glory back to God for making me to see today. And I’ll tell you, not all my class mates that have finished have reached this level. Infact my friend, class mates, Professor Adeyemi told me that he’s so happy, that at least it’s now two of us from the same class who are now fellows of this association, so it’s very exciting and I’m happy to be rewarded.”
Continuing, he noted that “as a fellow to the association, when they give you fellowship, it’s like somebody who has contributed and they give you an award, it’s just inviting you to do more.”
“What it means is that they’re inviting me to do more in the association because in terms of dues, I will not pay the same dues the ordinary members will pay, I will pay higher dues. In terms of sponsorship, when they want to have activities, I would contribute my own quota to sponsor activities of the organization. I have been given a responsibility which means I have to make sure the organization does not die. Anywhere you are , you’ll be given special recognition. So also they will recognize your pocket and your dues and your activities in your organization,” he added.
He said that the younger ones in the universities and other areas need encouragement.
“We need to encourage them and look more to bringing some of them to have practical training in my company through industrial attachment or youth service program. And then also encourage our people, expecially from where I come from, the Urhobo, to read more professional courses and be relevant to the society,” he added.
“Like I always say, our people should focus on studying the sciences Engineering and Medicine; they should go into different diverse professions. And so we will have a number of very qualified people and very professional people also from our own tribe,” he said.
Asked what his advice is to the government so as to further turn the fortune of the organization around and add more value to the development of the country, he said: “The government cannot turn around the fortune of the association, rather, they should recognize the importance of professionals in everything they want to do.”
In his words: “I will tell you one thing. why do buildings fail, it is because adequate technical investigation of the subsoil has not been done and they have not used professionals right from the commencement of the design and everything. They should involve the professional, the geologist, the geophysicist. They should not compromise quality because a lot of people have died from building collapse. So, they need to recognize professionals and look for the rightful place and get us involved in all the projects both road construction. A lot of roads have also failed. Every road they are constructing in this country must go through technical profiling of the sub surface of the soil. Which type of soil is there, do you need to remove materials from the soil and put another material or do you need to fill and all that. It’s the geologist and the geophysicist that are able to determine and tell government this is what we need to do. This is how you should do it for your road to last you longer. Because if the soil fails, the road has failed. if the soil fails, the building has failed. If the soil fails lot of structures will not be sustainable, it would collapse. So they are very important. They should recognize that.”
Also, he said that the leadership of the association is in good hands.
Dr. Okoro hails from Imode in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. He attended the prestigious Government College Ughelli from where he was chosen because of his excellent academic performance with four other students as educational/cultural ambassadors to another prestigious school, Government Secondary School Katsina – Ala in an exchange programme between Midwest State and Benue Plateau State(as it then was) with full scholarship. He thereafter proceeded to another prestigious school Government College Keffi for his Advance level programme also with full scholarship.
He attended the University of Ife, Ile-Ife where he obtained his first degree in Applied Geophysics and has subsequently attended Federal University of Technology Owerri where he obtained an M.Sc. degree in Geophysics and he is currently rounding up a PhD degree in Geophysics at the same university. He also holds a Doctor of Science (D.Sc ) degree Honoris causa. .
Dr. Felibens Edeheri Okoro is a certified Geoscientist and a member of several professional bodies.
He is a life member of the Junior Chambers International, Nigeria (JCIN) and where he held several positions including, JCIN Port Harcourt President, National Vice President, National Executive Vice President and National President of Junior Chamber International Nigeria (JCIN). He is a member of the Junior Chamber International Senate. He is a fellow of the Nigeria Leadership Institute and a member of the organized private sector in Nigeria.
He is also a respected member of the Urhobo Solidarity Club for several years and has served in various positions and is currently the National Publicity Secretary.
Dr. Okoro is a leader per excellence, motivator and philanthropist. He is very passionate about youth motivation and development to achieve greater heights. He has sponsored several indigent youths in their educational pursuits and skill acquisition programmes.
He is a Chief of Olomu Kingdom Delta State, the Oghenekparohwo 1.
He has received several awards within and outside Nigeria.
Dr. Felibens Okoro is a dedicated Christian.
Dr.Felibens Okoro is blissfully married and the marriage is blessed with children.
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