Yusuf Goteng @57: Mirroring a Seasoned Engineer’s Glowing Life
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
For Mr. Yusuf Audu Goteng, engineering, especially the electrical aspect, is what readily, explicitly and overwhelmingly defines his true personality. It is what he eats, and perhaps, one can confidently say. He may be an electrical engineer, but the fact that he is one with about 25 years experience, to boot, is nigh matchless.
Born to the family of late Mr. Audu Goteng, on 10 June, 1964, Engr. Goteng, hails from Pankshin town in Plateau State. Both his father, the late Mr. Goteng (of blessed memory) and Mallama Fatima Goteng, his doting mother, are devout Muslims, and also proud indigenes of Pankshin local government.
The local education primary school Pankshin is where Engr. Goteng began his academic sojourn. Sometime in the mid 70s, He was also at the School of Electronics in Jos, where he studied electronics, before proceeding to Government Technical College (GTC) Bukuru. At the Technical College he read Radio, Television and Electronic Servicing.
His voracious appetite for knowledge compelled him to seek, and was eventually offered an admission by the Plateau State Polytechnic. He graduated in 1985, bagging an Ordinary Diploma certificate in Mechanical Engineering.
Same year, Engr. Goteng, moved to Abuja after securing an employment as a classroom teacher, with the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA). And in 1988, he was deployed to Government Secondary School (GSS) Nyanya as an Introductory Technology teacher.
However, barely three years after resuming work at GSS Nyanya, the Plateau State-born electrical engineer, again secured another admission into the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), graduating in 1996, in flying colours.
Done with his degree programme at the prestigious BUK, Yusuf Goteng, resumed his career work at the federal civil service. But this time around, he was moved from the Education Ministry to the Engineering Services, as an electrical engineer.
As a diligent, hard working, brilliant, yet unassuming engineer, Goteng’s 25 years in the civil service saw him rise meteorically from ‘grace to grace’, or perhaps, (in my own coinage) from ‘nobody to somebody’.
Before becoming the Deputy Director, Electrical and Mechanical Department, at the Abuja Satellite Town Development Department (STDD), he was once a Higher Technical Officer, Technical Officer, an Assistant Chief Engineer and also Chief Engineer, at various point in time.
It is worthy to note that Engr. Goteng, ab initio, was even among the pioneer staff of the Satellite Town Department (then an Agency), when it was created by Mall. Nasir El-Rufai, who was then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in 2004.
As a young ‘village boy’ from Pankshin, he knew next-to-thing about engineering. But fate and one of his primary school teachers had a plan for him. Taking cognizance of his sheer brilliance, especially in the Mathematics subject, the aforementioned particular teacher advised Engr. Goteng, who was about sitting for an entrance exam into the School of Engineering Jos, to apply for engineering.
Having been in the engineering profession right from a precocious age, Goteng, who clocked 57 last Thursday, June 10, maintained that engineering is a force to be reckoned with in the comity of professions.
“You just cannot throw away or dismiss our profession. It is challenging, and at the same, amazing,” he told this writer, in a chat about his life and career. According to him, ingenuity is needed somewhat to solve people’s problem as an engineer.
His words: “What I have realized is that failure to address challenges or solve people’s problems indicate that you are not qualified and fit to be called an engineer. Nevertheless, as an engineer, you can only do your part, and then, someone will strive to improve on what you have done. And that is how engineering evolved.”
The self-effacing Deputy Director at the STDD, have handled and also been involved in several engineering projects in Abuja. He was involved in Federal Embassies’ Projects. He was (and has been) part of all the rural electrification in the FCT, right from 1996 till date. Together with his teams, they executed critical infrastructural projects within the Abuja city and its satellite towns, even as they opened up many rural communities in the nation’s capital.
Aside from been in charge of the electrical and mechanical works at Karshi district, where the STDD head office is located, Engr. Goteng, also participated in various infrastructural projects at Kubwa satellite town in Bwari area council of the FCT, together with Asokoro and Guzape Districts.
As a father-figure to his junior staff, Goteng, strongly believes in youth empowerment and mentorship. And these, he has shown, in the way and manner he motivates, and inspires his surbodinates and young engineers at their Satellite Town Department.
For the Nigerian youths, in general, he had this message (underneath) for the government: “The youths should be taken along. In every place we find ourselves, we should encourage our younger ones. Because as we move out, they will surely take over. And if we do not give them the right training, they cannot do better tomorrow. So, if we do not provide the best opportunities for our youths, Nigeria cannot attain its desired socio-economic growth”.
Digressing. The power dilemma in Nigeria would have become a thing of the past. But according to Engr. Goteng, the adoption of a wrong approach by government and key stakeholders towards tackling the electricity crisis in the country is the issue.
While advocating a new and effective approach, he said: “Maybe if we have some localized power stations, within various communities, to generate and supply power to the communities, then we would be on the path of redemption. Besides, we are blessed with other natural gifts that can be harnessed to generate power.”
Amid the challenges associated with being an electrical engineer in Nigeria, Goteng, is an incurable optimist. He believes his profession will be at a level, which will be described as second to none, in the nearest future.
But according to him, there is need for local electrical engineers to be given an opportunity to interact with their foreign counterparts. “So that we can copy from them, and domesticate their foreign technologies to suit our peculiar challenges,” he asserted.
As to the secret of his leaving peacefully, and harmoniously with others, both at his work place and his immediate society, Yusuf Goteng, said he mastered the art of respecting divergent opinions, which differ from his. He said: “In life, as you stay with people, respect the opinion of every person. Once you respect each other, you are bound to understand each each, and avoid any kind of altercation.”
At the moment, the seasoned Engr. Goteng, is a passionate farmer, who rears cattle on a subsistence level. Yet, the Plateau State-born engineering guru, said he hopes to go commercial by the time he retires from the civil service. Though, he still has some years left before calling it quit from the civil service, I beseech Almighty Allah to enrich him with sound health, and profound wisdom. May he live longer to continue rendering his selfless service for the growth of the public service, and in the advancement of the entire humanity.
Accept my 57 Happy Cheers, Sir!
Mahmud, a social affairs commentator, wrote in from Abuja, via 08067492272