Inspiring Women Engineers in Nigeria – Part one

Engr Mrs Maduka Joana

Engr. Mrs. Maduka Joanna was born in Ilesha, Osun State on May 6th, 1941. She had her early education at Queens School, Ede, from where she passed the West African School Certificate in 1959. She gained admission to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan and passed her Advanced Level Examinations in 1962. Thereafter, she was admitted to the University of Ife where she graduated in Applied Physics with B.Sc. (Hons) 2nd Class Upper Division in 1965.

Engr. Mrs. Maduka passed the Graduateship Examination of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (UK) in 1966 and earned an M.Sc. (Engineering) degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 1969

She was appointed as a Graduate Apprentice in the Engineering Division of Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, Ibadan (1965-1966); a Lecturer in Applied Physics at University of Ife and later promoted Lecturer, (1966-1970). She joined a firm of consulting Engineers, Leccom Associates in 1970 and became the Principal Partner in 1975.

She founded Friends of the Environment (FOTE) in 1993 with objectives in the areas of renewable energy, waste management and empowerment of women. FOTE is the Nigerian focal point of ENERGIA, an international network of women in sustainable energy based in the Netherlands. FOTE has carried out different activities and research relating to mainstreaming gender in energy issues from 1993 to date.

Engr Mrs. Maduka became the first female COREN Registered Engineer in 1974; first female, Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (FIEE), UK; first female, Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers FNSE; Honorary Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Science Technology, 1987, Honorary Fellow, Yaba College of Technology in 1998 and first female Fellow, the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.

2.Engr Margret Oguntala
Margaret Oguntala is a Chemical Engineer by training, who has been in the proffession for over two decades now.Margaret,a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (F .NSE ) and a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers (F .NSChE), immediate past chairman of the Association of Professional Women Engineer in Nigeria (APWEN ), Ikeja Branch and now a National Exco member of NSE.
She is a graduate of The University of Benin

3.Juliet Ehimuan
Google country manager in Nigeria

Ehimuan started her career at Shell Petroleum Development Company as Performance Monitoring and Quality Assurance Supervisor. Following that, she worked as Program Manager at Microsoft UK for six years, initially managing Strategic Projects for MSN EMEA. She received the Microsoft ‘Ship-IT’ award for successfully launching the MSN online subscription business in Europe. She later became Business Process Manager for the MSN Global Sales and Marketing Organisation. She left Microsoft in 2005 to start SI Consulting Ltd UK, providing collaborative programs that connect African Business leaders with their global counterparts. In the last two years, Ehimuan worked as General Manager, Strategic Business Units at Chams Plc leading four major lines of business, and key nationwide government projects.
Juliet Ehimuan holds an Executive MBA from the London Business School, a Post Graduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, UK; and a Bachelors degree (1st class honours) in Computer Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She is a recipient of the London Business School Global Women’s Scholarship, and at Cambridge University she received two scholarly awards – Selwyn College Scholar and Malaysian commonwealth Scholar. She is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society.

4.Engr Lola Masha
Country manager at OLX

Lola is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to this time, she has a Bsc in Chemical Engineering from University of Virginia. She also holds a Certificate in Management Technology, from University of California, Berkley.
Masha is an outstanding individual with expertise in business development, entrepreneurship, operational transformation, strategy and product development, across numerous industries including technology and consulting.
She has significant international experience and has worked with brands like Google and McKinsey Consulting.

Her Works:
Lola is currently the Country Manager, OLX Nigeria. She oversees the overall business success across all functions, including technology.
Lola Masha was the product partnership associate with Google from September 2013- January 2014. She drove partnership across Europe and Africa for Google Search and new strategic Google products.

Lola changed the E-commerce face of OLX while the company experienced immense profit and growth under her management.
Lola, in spite of her educational background in engineering with a passion for technology made her venture into technology related field. She has been of immense significance to OLX.

.Engr Ebele Okeke

Born on 14th June, 1948, in, Nnewi North, Anambra State. She attended the Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls Secondary School Elelenwa, Port Harcourt, where she came out with grade 1 in the West African Certificate Examinations in 1965. She then proceeded for her A level education at the college for girls, Southampton, England. Thereafter, she was admitted into the University of Southampton England and graduated with B.Sc. Second Class Hons. in Civil Engineering in 1971. She then did a post graduate course in ground water in the University of Technology, Loughborough and Hydrology and Hydrogeology at University College, London in 1979 and obtained a post Graduate Diploma and MBA from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2001.

She worked as a public Health Engineer with Sanford Fawcett Wilton & Bell Consulting Engineers, London, Highways and Transportation Engineers and Gifford & Tolefe Consulting Engineers, Ibadan as a Highways Engineer.

Engr. Ebele joined the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and water Resources in August 1978 as a principal water Engineer and rose to the position of Director, Department of Rural Development in January 1997. She was appointed permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources in March 2005. In July 2007, she was appointed to the exalted position of Head of the Civil Services of the Federation and thus became not only the first female to occupy the position but also the first Engineer to hold this esteemed position. She was inducted into the Nigerian Women Hall of Fame in November, 2007 and retired in 2008.

Engr. Ebele had contributed immensely to the development of engineering in Nigeria. She was the founder of the Association of Professional Women Engineers, (APWEN) Abuja Branch. She presented a number of technical papers at different National and International fora including: the World Bank; the India Water Works Association, Bombay, India; the International Water Resources Association, (IWRA) Ottawa, Canada; Water and Wastewater Publishers, Barcelona, Spain; Afro-Asian Conference II and IV; Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria; National Institute of Water Resources and Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Engr. Ebele has received numerous honours and award which include Certificate of Distinction awarded by the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nigeria, 1992. Achievement award presented by the Association of Professional Women Engineers, 1995 and 2004.Distinquished Award for Holding the Integrity of Civil Engineering Practice in Nigeria, 2005. Fellow and Chartered Civil Engineer of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain and Ireland, Fellow, Nigeria Society of Engineers.

A registered Engineer with the Council of Engineering regulation of Nigeria (COREN), Member, College of Fellows of Nigeria Society of Engineers,. In 2006, Engr. Ebele was awarded the distinguished National Honour Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) by the President of Nigeria to be followed by the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2008

6.Engr Mayen Adetiba
First female Civil Engineer in Nigeria

IN the early 70s when engineering was still perceived as the boys’ club, the only black girl studying for a degree in Civil Engineering in one of the world’s most respected institutions, Columbia University, USA, was a Nigerian. That girl is today 65-year-old Engr.(Mrs)Mayen Adetiba, an icon who has led the engineering profession at different times, both in Nigeria and beyond.

A former President of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria and three-time Vice-President of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, NSE, Adetiba has also presided over the African regional body of the International Association of Consulting Engineers. Principal Partner at Delkem Associates, a foremost consulting engineering outfit, she is also Chartered Secretary-General of the Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria, APWEN. In this interview, the amazon who sits on the board of several multinationals and who was the first female to be elected into the executive committee of the NSE

7.Engr Funke Opeke

Funke Opeke is the founder of Main Street Technologies and CEO of Mainone Cable, a communications services company. She attended Obafemi Awolowo University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronic & Electrical Engineering, followed by a Masters degree at Columbia University in Electrical Engineering.
Hear her

“I was born and raised here in Nigeria and obtained a degree in Electrical Engineering from the then University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University). After that, I proceeded to Columbia University in New York for a Master’s degree in the same Electrical Engineering. Following graduation from Columbia, I pursued a career in ICT in the United States and ended that phase of my career as an Executive Director with the Wholesale division of Verizon Communications in New York. In 2005, I decided to return to Nigeria and started with MTN Nigeria as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). I have had over 25 years experience in Telecoms.

I was later called upon to serve as adviser to Transcorp and Chief Operating Officer of NITEL for a brief period. It was during this period, while working with a team of like-minded people trying to privatize and revitalize NITEL, that the idea for the cable company was birthed.

We had so much difficulty achieving success in NITEL and then internet services were almost non-existent in the country. I recognized that the absence of submarine cables was the weakest link in the chain. That was what inspired me. The more I thought about that and what it would take to build a new cable and the marketability and regulatory structures, the more it seemed that clearly there was a need and it was feasible, and so it just got a life of its own.

The first year I essentially worked on my own and put everything into doing the foundational work, feasibility studies, business plan, technical plan to see that this was indeed feasible and then talked to regulators about licenses and things like that. Again, the more I delved into it the more I knew this could work; everything seemed to bring me back to that conclusion even in those early days.

In this part of the world, broadband services have a very low penetration and so does ICT in general. At the moment, Mainone is more focused on inland connectivity, terrestrial connectivity across Nigeria, Ghana and then growing into West Africa. We are also focused on growing and building data centers and delivering cloud services. We have played a significant role already and we think we have an opportunity to play a leadership role in driving that. That is really our focus. Getting services distributed through the country, improving connectivity, seeing a lot more broadband applications, e-commerce, e-learning and those kinds of applications developed and being adopted.”

8.Engr. Hauwa Muhammed Sadique
Past APWEN president
Engr. Hauwa Muhammed Sadique was born on 3rd February, 1969 to the family of Late Muhammed Abubakar Shuwa and Hajiya Amina Muhammed Shuwa who hail from Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State. She started her Primary Education from Army Command Children School (NDA) Kaduna, 1976 and later Queen Amina College Kakuri, Kaduna State. She later attended the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi where she had National Diploma in Agric Engineering Technology and later proceeded to University of Maiduguri were she had Bachelor of Engineering in Agricultural Engineering between 1990-1994. In 2004–2005, she bagged Msc Economics from Bayero University, Kano.

This engineer started her education as a Classroom Teacher at Airforce Primary School and FAAN Staff School, Kano before she was employed with the then Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) 1999. When FEAP was scraped and later became National Poverty Eradication Programme in 2004, her appointment was regularized and was posted to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources where started her engineering career.
by dint of hard work and commitment over the years, she is now a Chief Engineer with Federal Ministry of Water Resources in the Department of Dams and Reservoir Operations (Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority), Kano.

She is a Member of numerous professional bodies which include; Nigerian Institute of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), National Institute of Cost and Appraise Engineers, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Illinois Chicago, USA, International Women Engineers and Scientist & Women in Engineering (WFEO)/UNESCO. She is also a Registered Engineer with Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

Over the years, the amiable leader, sometimes called Alhaja, has served engineering community in the following capacities:

Technical Secretary APWEN Kano Chapter, Financial Secretary APWEN Kano Chapter, Ex-Officio APWEN National, General Secretary APWEN National, Vice President APWEN National & Member Audit Committee NSE 2010-2015.

9.Omobola Johnson
Former ICT Minister

Honorary Chairperson, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)
Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester; Master’s in Digital Electronics, King’s College, London; doctorate in Business Administration, School of Management, Cranfield University. Over 25 years’ consulting experience; has worked with companies in a variety of industries, transforming them into more competitive and dynamic organizations. Twenty-five years with Accenture including five years as Country Managing Director. Currently, Minister of Communication Technology, Nigeria. Vice-Chair, Global Agenda Council on Africa, World Economic Forum. Founding Chairperson and Member of the Board of Trustees, Women in Management and Business. Chairperson, UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Member, Broadband Commission Working Group on Gender, UNDP. Member, m-Powering Development Advisory Board, ITU. Advisory role to the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC.

U.S based Aerospace Engineer

From hawking commonplace foodstuff in her village, she became a house help for an opportunity to attend secondary school

The Umudihu Orlu Imo state born is the first person ever to travel to the United States of America from her village. Her bragging right extends the larger Orlu community where she is the first Aerospace Engineer and arguably one of the few in Nigeria.

Her story
Given the circumstance of her poor parentage, Onyema could have been subsumed by the overwhelming surge of penury. However, she was determined, not only to swim against the tide, but to float comfortably. With no role model or anyone to emulate, she trusted her guts and envisioned herself as an accomplished professional. This big picture was always before she began the grind. In primary school, she hawked commonplace food items in the village to earn money for her textbooks.

Primary school education was all her parents dreamt for her. The next big thing on their mind was to have her acquire tailoring skills. It was a station above the subsistence farming which engaged them. At least, she could read and string together enough figures to take measurement and make outfits for the village folks. She would then expect to attract a suitable suitor; and become a wife and a mother.
This was not the life Onyema dreamt. Like the probable ring which circles her name (and has proven to envelope her destiny), with thoughts of possibility, a relative volunteered to sponsor her education in a secondary school, if she would serve him as a maid. The offer could be likened to a straw thrown at a drowning person. She grabbed it with both hands.

She did not see herself as a maid. All she could see was the corridor of opportunity leading to the realisation of her dream of flying an aircraft. It was a childhood dream since she was eight and an aeroplane roared above the backyard of her parents’ home in Umudihe. The mechanized bird captured her imagination forever. Growing up, something kept telling her that one day she would fly an aeroplane. But she never discussed it with anybody.
After secondary school, she re-awakened her desire to be a pilot. Almost every night, she sneaked out to a cybercafé in the neighbourhood to browse the internet. Some might have thought she was up to some immoral business. But she was simply taking advantage of the cheaper N100 internet browsing at that time of the night. This was between 2001/2002.

From searching the internet, she got some information on how to school in the United States. She particularly read much about piloting. In the process, she stumbled on Aerospace Engineering, a more challenging course. She momentarily lost interest in piloting. Although she would not dwell on the details, it was clear that providence came to her rescue. Having secured admission to several schools, a stranger bought a one way ticket to Atlanta for her. She arrived in America in 2004 to study Aero Space Engineering. If she thought, America did not offer immediate comfort she longed for. It was a long journey to academic attainment.
For nine good years, she toiled to get a degree that should have taken four years. Determined to succeed, she worked hard, remain focused and persevered. Taking advantage of several opportunities to work, while going to school, sometimes she engaged in four jobs just to survive. Her student Visa posed a different kind of challenge as she had to be in school full time student. Tuition was expensive. Being an international student, it was difficult to get a full scholarship, but she got a small scholarship here and there. Consequently, she had to defer some courses several times to allow time to work for money. This happened four times. She even had to go to Canada in search of better paying jobs.

“I traversed six universities to actualize my dream. I was at Harvard University. I attended University of Alabama briefly and equally registered my presence at Fisk University in Tennessee, North Eastern University in Boston and Massachusetts Institute of Technology before I finally graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I am a very passionate person and when my heart grabs something it is very hard to let go. I never gave up,” she said.

To be continued…


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