Dr. Ibilola Amao is the Principal Consultant of Lonadek. She is an alumnus of Manchester Business School, Bradford University and Queen Mary College, University of London. A member of the Governing Council of the Energy Institute (EI), UK, Board of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) business group, PennWell Offshore West Africa Conference, Engineering Practice and Resource Development, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and Chairperson of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board – Industry Advisory Team. Ibilola is a Vital Voices VV GROW, VV 100 Fellow, VV Global Ambassador Programme (GAP) 2017 Mentee, WeConnect International Fellow, IWEC Awardee, Energy Institute Energy Champion 2016 and Access Bank “W” 100 Awardee.
Ibilola is very passionate about grooming young professionals and encouraging them to pursue routes to international chartership. She is committed to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Energy, Power, Infrastructure, Oil, Gas and High-Technology Industries. She established Lonadek Nigeria Limited in 1991 and Lonadek UK in 2007 to implement state-of-the-art Engineering/IT solutions and bridge technological gaps in emerging economies.
As a committed change agent she invests her time and effort in career counselling, industry awareness and youth empowerment hence the formation of “The Vision 2020: Youth Empowerment & Restoration Initiative” in May 2006 (See: www.vision2020-ng.org). To nurture the leaders of tomorrow, Ibilola set up a STEM hub to develop professionals and entrepreneurs. (See: www.thecedarcentre.org). She is passionate about leaving a legacy of having touched the lives of at least 100,000 youths in a very significant manner.
She is a Vital Voices fellow and WeConnect International certified member. She is involved in Women empowerment activities with WimBiz and a firm believer who pays it forward for national development and socio-economic transformation.Tell us about your plans for the Nigerian Universities and what informed this noble gesture at a time like this?
In July 2016, Africa Prime News published an article titled, “No Nigerian University Makes The 2016 World’s 1000 Top Universities List” .This was shocking as far as I was concerned. The Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) released its 2016 ranking of universities around the world based on eight objectives and robust indicators to rank the world’s top 1,000 universities, and listed them as follows:
|S/N||Objectives and Indicators||Weighting|
|1||Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university’s size||25%|
|Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have held CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size||25%|
|Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals||25%|
|4||Publications, measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals||5%|
|5||Influence, measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals||5%|
|6||Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers||5%|
|7||Broad Impact, measured by the university’s h- index||5%|
|8||Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings||5%|
Having attended three African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI) meetings in Ghana, South Africa and Enugu, Nigeria where Vice Chancellors, Provosts and Deans of STEM-focused faculties gather to discuss strategies for repositioning African Universities, I realised we needed to crucially supplement talk with action. With such a colossal problem, it is my firm belief that action in the form of strategic partnerships should be the bedrock of the transformation process. It is imperative that the gap between industry and academia, for-profit businesses, social impact initiatives and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects be bridged with Human Capital Development (HCD) efforts by all stakeholders for societal transformation to be of utmost priority.
Would this put an end to the unfortunate trend where the oil/gas industry is unable to hire our fresh graduates?
Not quite. The problem is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. We need to hire the best brains to teach in schools and impart knowledge at lecturer level. The best of these brains must lead the best students in innovative projects, c
ourse works, and case studies involving research and development. The laboratories need to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to stimulate ingenious solutions to the problem of power generation at reduced costs, generating cheaper alternative sources of energy, processing methodologies to harness our natural and mineral resources and so on. The Oil and Gas industry must find higher learning institutions as a go-to place for Consultants and solution providers. A collaborative synergy must exist between industry and academia. AVEVA, one of the leading technologies for Plant Design and Management Systems (PDMS) evolved from Cambridge University. In essence, businesses must evolve from course works, class works, projects, and R&D driven case studies in our Universities.When we have a transformed system, the graduates would be industry-relevant because they would have served as Interns, Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES); Apprentices in the industry etc. while studying. Students in the class grade JSS3 and above can get jobs on the back of their work ethics, and then go to evening/ night school to graduate and create value for their employers. HNDs do not need to go to University to get a B.Sc., M.Sc. or Ph.D. to get a job because they are so well schooled in entrepreneurship that they graduate to become employers of Ph.D.’s M.Sc.’s and B.Sc.’s.
Can you point to other developed climes where this has worked?
Centres of Excellence (CoE), Science and Technology Parks and Innovation Hubs are the future. Quite a lot of contraptions claim to be CoE these days. If industry, academia and venture capitalists are not generating ideas, proffering solutions, creating value and transforming societies with business spin-offs, can we really call these schools or institutes a CoE? I guess we are still far from understanding the educational ecosystem for multiparty and multi-stakeholder symbiotic value creation and revenue generation, so we call well- equipped academic environments CoE’s.
What are the immediate and futuristic goals you’ve set in this regard?
An ecosystem that educates, enlightens, empowers, engages and creates entrepreneurs (5E’s) of national development and socio-economic transformation is what I am aiming for. You do not need a degree to be successful or make millions in ForEx. You simply need a good brain, team work having identified and discovered your potential, talent and passion. I want value creators to unleash their full potential in the Energy, Power, Infrastructure, Mining, Oil, Gas, Agriculture and Technology sectors of resource rich emerging economies so that we create wealth and jobs for our teeming youth.
Do you have organisations and organs of government with you in this pursuit? What’s the place of PTDF and the NCDMB?
I really like to start off with an idea, a template from God on what He sees as a possible solution that He can trust me with and then I start a discussion with friends, family, colleagues and clients. Fortunately, PTDF, Multinationals and IOCs are our clients at Lonadek and NCDMB works with practically all the IOCs. We are fortunate that Chevron has persistently made human capital development her priority. About ten years ago we were involved in upgrading the 400 and 500 level curricula to include entrepreneurship at UNILAG. Chevron then invested in an AutoCAD facility at YabaTech. It took us over 5 years to get a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed at YabaTech because they did not quite understand how we planned to create value through grants and donations. Now, after Lonadek commenced the Royal Academy of Engineering UK (RaeUK) and Energy Institute (EI) Graduate Engineering Training Scheme (GETS) Phase I, they do.
Long term strategic initiatives and programmes are not quite popular in Nigeria. I am hoping that people would begin to appreciate the value they bring when the products of our initiatives become the strategic thinkers and game changers.
The Minister of State is trying to resolve the duplicity of roles between the PTDF and NCDMB, so I am not qualified to speak on this matter now. All I can say is there is too much work to be done and enough to be shared between NCDMB and PTDF without one getting in the way of another.
Would you be seeking any legislation to strengthen this platform?
I work actively through Lonadek, an asset sustainability consulting company. Lonadek is a member of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) and Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN). I believe these bodies, as associations are best positioned to seek legislative backing on a consensus of requirements of their members. It would be too untidy at this stage to work outside a consensus that stimulates strategic partnerships and alliances. What we need most is collaboration, cooperation and coordination of resources, assets and competencies to build capacity, capability and competence. Only then can we compete and win nationally, regionally and globally. We have enough local champions in Nigeria. We need to see the big picture to play globally.
How d’you plan to integrate the experienced but retired hands in the oil and gas industry?
Collaboration, Cooperation and Coordination of resources. I would like to see PTDF take charge of Oil and Gas human capital assets leveraging the multitude of overseas scholars that they have invested in over the years. I am not sure if NCDMB or PTDF would have the first mover’s advantage as I have proposed to both Executive Secretaries (ESs) the ripeness of the time now to harmonise scholars, fellows etc. to create value through Alumni. We have PTDF OSS Scholars, Chevening Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Mandela Washington YALI Fellows, IOC Local Undergraduate Scholars (some of whom have had foreign scholarships). Furthermore, we have Nigerians retired from IOCs who have had multiple cross-postings and Nigerians-in-diaspora who are working in Houston, Texas; Calgary, Canada; Aberdeen, Scotland etc. I am hoping that we look at these assets as the most precious investment that Nigeria has.
Any plans for the highly resourceful professional Nigerians in the North Sea?
Through [email protected] we are already getting emails from those who are interested in returning to give back, on contract or want to set up something for themselves or with others. I am hoping that the body language of government and speech would be in line with the recent signing of a law that establishes the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun. These are very interesting times in Nigeria. I am privileged to be a part of it.