One could hardly grudge a man, who, after sojourning on mother earth for over six eventful decades, three and a half of which were spent in full public glare, decides to take a bow and thank God for the much He has used him to achieve for his people.
Such is the remarkable setting, giving enormous fillip to the divinely-guided story of Engr. (Dr.) Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi, FNSE, JP, former Honourable Minister of State for Works, Federal Republic of Nigeria, who only a couple of years ago, retired from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, after rising to the enviable position of Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production.
In an exclusive chat with The Navigator recently, this distinguished technocrat and politician, explained that without God’s divine guidance and the personal pursuit of transparency and accountability, he would not have mounted the enchanting pedestal he is firmly standing on today. He maintained that the twin principles of transparency and accountability were crucial factors in the moulding and strengthening of public trust in the ability of a man to represent and do the bidding of others creditably well and satisfactorily.
Said he: “Transparency and accountability have been my key, guiding principles, because without them you, your activities and what you represent would be shrouded in doubts and untrustworthiness. People would not trust you with certain positions, not to even talk about allowing you to represent them.
“My life at the NNPC has taught me great lessons in transparency, accountability, discipline, true service and humility. It has taught me that honesty and patriotic service cannot go unrewarded. It afforded me the rare opportunity to impart on people, as one grew in rank and status, in that very challenging industry; what is more? When I finally retired from the service of the NNPC, I felt, and still fill fulfilled, elated and further elevated when, today, I come across people, I can’t even place again, who show appreciation for what they believe I did for them while I was in service. Nothing gives more joy to a retiree, from challenging leadership positions, to be so spoken well of and revered.”
Engr. Ogiemwonyi remarked that though it was easy for some persons to forget in a hurry the unpleasant challenges they went through, especially after figuratively bursting through the door of success, he would not fall into that trap, because he appreciated the fact that the roughness of the road, its ruggedness, and the intricacy of the challenges, make a better personality of the man that emerges from the reflexes-sharpening, firing process that is the liturgy of fate and life’s true sojourn .
Without this explanation, how could one have concluded that Engr. Ogiemwonyi’s days at the Western Boys’ High School, University of Benin, University of Ibadan, and the Harvard Business School, coupled with his sure-footed traverse of the different managerial and leadership landscapes in the nation’s oil industry, were beds of Roses given him on a platter of gold?
With an excellent career that began in 1975 when he was employed as Petroleum Engineer II, competence, discipline, creativity and secured achievements took young Ogiemwonyi through the ranks in challenging managerial postings, moulding him into full maturity in 1999 when he was promoted General Manager, Operations, National Petroleum Investments of the National Petroleum Investments and Management Services, NAPIMS.
The technocrat, who hailed from Idumwebo village in Orhionmwhon local government area to preside over seven NNPC companies and subsidiaries in his capacity as Group Executive Director Exploration and Production, encouraged youths to be focused and allow themselves to be driven by discipline and creativity, noting that “once you are driven by discipline and passion for excellence, the will to succeed could easily be accessed.”
On politics, Engr. Ogiemwonyi, who once registered his intention to contest the gubernatorial position of Edo State in the period preceding the 2011 elections, maintained that he remains resolute on answering the call of the people of the state, should they call upon him to again render service.
According to him, “people used to say that politics is a dirty game; and some of my friends have asked me why I have decided to present myself for public service, I have always told them that I am in politics to cleanse the Augean Stable, to prove that, yes, we can depart from the old, rotten ways of the past and truly engineer good things for the overall benefit of the people. There is no doubt that there is a lot of work to be done if we must move our state and our people forward.”
Engr. Ogiemwonyi remarked that he sees politics as an opportunity to impact on the people on a general platform, adding that politics would become a better game if more committed persons, interested in the genuine development of the people, would step forward for service.
Because of his unobtrusive character disposition and humility, many people, before now, really didn’t know much about this technocrat, this meticulous achiever, who within the brief period he stayed as Minister of State for Works, influenced, amongst several others, the flag-off and completion of the first phase re-construction of the Benin – Abraka inter-state road, beginning from Ekiosa Market at the popular Third Junction, Benin City, a project from which over thirty Edo communities would massively benefit on final completion. This is because the new road would open up these communities, creating in-roads for other socio-economic activities and interests to flood in.
Today, Engr. Ogiemwonyi, presides over Energy Strategic Centre, Abuja, an Energy consulting group, in his private capacity.