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Edo 2016: Battle of the titans

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By: Osahon Obasuyi

The race to the Governorship of Edo State, from all appearances, promises to take the shape of the legendry “Battle of the Titans”. With no less than 20 aspirants across the party divide already in the race and still counting, there is little doubt that the ancient and traditional land of Igomigodo is about to witness a robust political contest that will stretch the political maturity of the people to the limit. But it is all for the best and shows that the incumbent Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has not only opened the political space in the State in the last eight years but has further opened the eyes of the people to the realities of governance.

What is, perhaps, most interesting is the mix of the aspirants to the governorship race. Aside the old political war horses who have made their appearances in the race once or twice, or have held political positions by reason of appointments, there is a full dose of the academia who have, over the years, made their marks and left their footprints in the sands of the nation’s Ivory Tower. Then there are the members of the Private Sector who, perhaps, have suddenly realised that in order to grow the real economy of the State they must be on the driver’s seat and in control of the engine of growth which is the Private Sector.

Heading the political old war horses is, for example, Professor Oserhemen Osunbor who contested and won the Edo State Governorship election in 2007 with the ticket of the PDP but whose election was invalidated by the State’s Election Tribunal in 2008. Interestingly, the man he now seeks to succeed in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is the same person who took the seat from him by virtue of the Tribunal’s verdict. Perhaps, more interesting is the fact that the erudite Professor is attempting a come back under the umbrella of the ruling APC.

And heading the Private Sector entrants, perhaps, is Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who lately decamped from the PDP to the APC. He runs alongside  Professor Osayuki Oshodin, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, and Pastor Ize Iyamu of the PDP. There is also Architect Mike Onelememen, Senator Ehige Uzamere and Major General Charles Airhiavhere who battled for the seat with Comrade Oshiomhole in 2012. With all these men in the race, is there any doubt that the people are going to witness a repeat of the Battle of the Titans? This is because these are juggernauts in their own rights and judging from their records, they should not be taken lightly when they enter a political battle such as is being envisaged in the State in 2016.

One possible difficulty, though, that could arise for the people in making their choice, perhaps, will be the personalities involved: what with the different levels of influence that are bound to come to play during the campaigns and the election itself. However, the out-going administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has lessened the burden of choice by providing the dividends of good governance by which any incoming administration would, no doubt, be assessed. He has, in the last eight years, brought to bear on the State the effectiveness and efficiency of the Private Sector as engine of growth of any economy.  The people of Edo State need someone who will sustain that tempo of development in the State after Oshiomhole.

Looking at the profiles of the aspirants, especially those coming from the Private Sector, Engineer Christopher Ogiemwonyi stands out as the leader and most experienced administrator and manager of men and resources. With over 30 years of work experience in the oil and gas industry, this graduate of the University of Benin, a 1974 B.Sc. (Hons) holder in Applied Physics with option in Electronics and 1976 post graduate Diploma holder in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Ibadan, has proven his mettle as an administrator and high profile manager of men and resources. Aside his intimidating academic achievements, 64 year old Christopher has a daunting career profile which began way back in the late 1970s. He began his career as a Petroleum Engineer 11 in 1975 with the Conservation Department and in February, 1977 was seconded to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Warri, a secondment which was enriched by a four and half month Advance Petroleum Engineering Programme in SPDC Training Centre in the Hague, Netherlands. Between 1978 through 1982, he worked in various departments of Petroleum Resources including the then newly created gas Department.

In 1999, he was promoted General Manager, Operations and moved to National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS) to oversee the Operations Division. He midwifed various projects especially the Local content initiative of the Federal Government. By dint of hard work, he was appointed the Group General Manager, NAPIMS in 2001. As GGM NAPIMS, he oversaw the whole industry including the Joint Ventures (JV) and the Production Sharing Companies (PSCs). While in NAPIMS, he served as Chairman, Nigeria OTC Committee for 2003 and 2004. Between 1999-2003, he midwifed key projects including EA field, Erha field, Bonga field and Agbami field amongst others. Also, under his watch, NAPIMS achieved zero cash call arrears by October, 2003. As GGM NAPIMS, the Oil Industry was encouraged on joint utilization of assets such as offshore swamp rigs. Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi is, perhaps most noted today for his achievements while in NAPIMS. With an objective to compete with international oil and gas concerns, Engnr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, in 1988, facilitated the formation of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) which he headed as Project Leader (Petroleum Engineer) in Benin City until 1999.

Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC),was incorporated in 1988 and, as stated earlier, one of its objectives was to compete as an indigenous Oil and Gas producing Company. NPDC was assigned four acreages including OML – 65 containing Abura Field, a takeover asset from the defunct TENNECO then producing at 980 bopd. He championed the takeover of this asset, kept an up-to-date reserves position of the new Company and served as the Abura Field Project Leader, He raised the production level from 980 bopd to over 4,000 bopd in 1990. In 1992, he served as Oredo Field Project Leader. This was a Greenfield project that involved KELT ENERGY,UK and IP CONSTRUCTION, Calgary. He also served as Oziengbe field Leader. This is another 10,000 bopd EPC facility at Oziengbe field.

If the career profile of Chris Ogiemwonyi is daunting, his professional progression is even more so. For example, he is currently President, Energy and Engineering Technology Construction Company, an Energy Consulting Group, a position he has held since May 2011. He was Minister of State for Works from April 2010 to May 2011, President Energy Strategy Centre (Esc) Abuja, an Energy Consulting Group,  from September 2009 to April 2010, Group Executive Director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( Exploration & Production Directorate) from September 2007 to April 2009. As Group Executive Director (GED) Exploration and Production, Engr. Ogiemwonyi was in charge of seven NNPC Companies and Subsidiaries which included National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), LNG & Power Division, Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Crude Oil, Marketing Division and Local Content Division.  He was Managing Director, Nigerian Gas Company Limited Warri, from March 2005 to September 2007. In March 2005, he was reassigned to National Gas Company Limited as Managing Director. His focus was to increase gas supply to major customers like; PHCN, SNG, GSLINK, WAPCO, SHAGAMU, and EWEKORO, NOTORE FERTILIZER PH,OBAJANA CEMENT COMPANY etc NGC is coordinating 130mmscf/d gas supply (WAGP – West Africa gas Supply Project) to Benin, Togo, Ghana and hopefully to Ivory Coast. Trans- Sahara Gas Project (TSGP), the 2 billion scf/d supply from Nigeria through Algeria to Europe, was another portfolio under his supervision as NGC’s helmsman.

A technocrat per excellent, Chris Ogiemwonyi served on the board of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He was also former council member of Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Warri and Chairman, N-Gas. Also a former Director NETCODIETSMANN and one time Board member of Nigermed, Engnr. Ogiemwonyi served as member, Presidential Committee on Independent Power Project (IPP) development for Niger Delta, served as a member of the NNPC Corporate Board and Chairman of Hyson/Calson Joint Venture (JV). He was also a member of the Presidential Committee on Accelerated Expansion of Electricity Infrastructure.

A product of the Harvard Business School, Ogiemwonyi belongs to many professional bodies including the society of Petroleum Engineers. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and former President of the Nigeria Gas Association. He is a recipient of the Justice of Peace (JP) by Edo State Government and the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award. Ogiemwonyi, who is married and blessed with children, is patron to several bodies, including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Association of Community Newspapers Publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN) .

  • Obasuyi sent this piece from Benin
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