The Making Of NSE’s Youngest Fellow

The glittering and glorious take-home package at the 17th edition of the Fellowship Conferment of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) held on Wednesday, in Abuja, as it conferred the Fellowship award on 66 Nigerian engineers.

The intellectual angle of the ceremony revolved around the theme, “Development in the Automotive Industry and Opportunities for Engineers and Engineering Firms in Nigeria”.

The lecture was delivered by Jelani Aliyu, the Director General of National Automotive Design and Development Council, NADCC, who called on Nigerian engineers across the country to take full advantage of new developments, and emerging opportunities in the automotive industry, emphasizing that Nigeria depended on engineers to attain national growth and development.

Among those conferred with the prestigious fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) was Babajide Agunbiade, a Director at the National Oilwell Varco, which claimed to be the world’s largest oil and gas equipment manufacturing company headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Some other engineers conferred with the Fellowship award at the event were Emmanuel Aluyor, a professor of Chemical Engineering and Vice-Chancellor of Edo State University; Abiola Amodu, an Air Vice Marshal; Ibrahim Alhassan Musah, Chairman, Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation; Kazeem Adebiyi, a professor of engineering and Rector, The Polytechnic, Ibadan; and Wisdom Enang, an Operation Engineering Consultant with an international oil and gas company, among others.

The exceptionality of the 2021 edition of the conferment of NSE’s Fellowship award was that of 31-year-old Enang, the youngest ever to be so honoured with the prestigious title in the NSE. Enang, who had all his tertiary education at Bath University in the United Kingdom, where he bagged a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the age of 26, became an engineer in 2011. The oil and gas expert, whose core interest in the petroleum industry is the evolving gas exploration and utilization, is also a chartered engineer with the United Kingdom-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

According to Ebele Okeke, the chairman of the Board of Fellows/ College of the NSE, the conferees were selected “through thorough screening and assessment procedures applied to the Fellowship applications”. He added that the 66 new Fellows of the NSE “have distinguished themselves in the practice and promotion of engineering by observing the codes, standards and ethics of the profession, as well as in the service to the society.”

An engineer at the top hierarchy of the NSE, who spoke to Sunday Independent in confidence, said the award on Enang had more to do with “his exceptional contributions to the engineering profession than his years in the Nigerian Society of Engineers”.

Commenting on the award in an exclusive chat with Sunday Independent, Justice Derefaka, an engineer and Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, opined that the award may be largely “attributable to his achievements and leadership across a broad spectrum of projects supporting oil and gas, his zeal for young professionals development and entrepreneurship as well as gas commercialization and strategic developments in multiple spheres.” Joe Nwankwe, a Fellow in the NSE, told this reporter that Enang “has demonstrated diligence and focus in his work.”

A three-paragraph statement endorsed by Udom Inoyo, the immediate past Executive Vice Chairman of Exxon Mobil Subsidiary companies in Nigeria, and sighted by Sunday Independent, stated that Enang has made “unrivalled contributions to the engineering profession in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom, particularly in the emerging gas utilization opportunities.”

Identifying his native background with Enang and that he is one of his mentees, the retired director of Exxon Mobil, who is the first person from the oil producing state to have reached the position of General Manager and later director in the oil giant, prided that the UK-trained engineer is imbued with “the true Akwa Ibom spirit”, adding, “I am proud of you not only as an Akwa Ibom son, but also as one of my mentees who exemplifies the time-tested values of excellence, integrity, discipline and hard-work.”

Following their experiences in the course of mentoring Enang from his days in school to his career trip, the trio of Nwankwe, Derefaka, and Inoyo said that his feat as the youngest Fellow in the NSE was no surprise to them.

Derefaka, who said he prefers calling Enang his brother and friend, in what sounded as tribute to the young Fellow of NSE said: “Wisdom ensures that the nation’s abundant natural gas resources are used to promote national development with the intent to unlock several midstream gas opportunities to further enhance domestic gas utilisation.

“His focus on gas to transform Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for prime movers to a cleaner, more available, accessible, acceptable, and affordable energy use in gas is admirable, as this will not only cushion the effects of current deregulation, but also create enormous job opportunities for Nigerians.

“In terms of capacity, Dr. Wisdom remains flexible with changing conditions, base his judgement on facts, not own sentiment, produces creative and workable solutions, consistently exceeds expectations, sustain very high-performance overtime. He exudes drive and enthusiasm to set self and others challenging and clear targets; and from a relationship viewpoint, he builds followership, values, and synthesizes differences into workable solutions.

“Dr Wisdom also demonstrates courage and self-confidence to tackle unfamiliar problems and challenges and go against the crowd if necessary. He is also proactive in sharing knowledge, skills and expertise with people across board in the industry drawn from his years of experience in the oil and gas industry.

“He has also shown willingness to go the extra mile when given a daunting task. He also displays the ability to communicate at all levels – up, down and across the mix of his company as well as other government organisations and agencies.”

In exclusive interview with Sunday Independent, Enang mentioned two major factors behind the record he has had so far in his career: “intentional steps to add value” and “intentional steps to be exemplary”. On being a model to his fellow youths, the Akwa Ibom-born engineer, who is equally a mentor with Young Engineers Entrepreneurship Club in Africa (YEEC -Africa), said that “’The youths everywhere in the world are the most difficult to engage in conversation”, hence his interest at demystifying the sociological monster.

He added: “My intentional step to be exemplary is to drive home my message to my fellow youths that a giant step is not something alien or abstract.” He admonished people of all classes and ages to always “put off the burden of I-cannot and constantly put on the desire of I-can then every other goodness will fall in line.”

On YEEC (Africa), he said, “The mainstay of the club is actually to create value orientation for young people and make sure they take advantage of their education and then we help them to get prepared for entrepreneurial values. My role as a mentor is supporting young people to know various opportunities available and get them to unbundle the values presented to them.”

On the role of his mentors from his childhood days to career pursuit, Enang, who said he was first mentored by his mother, narrated that the different mentors came in contact with him at different stages of climbing the ladder of life. He said, “The value they add to me differs from each other but the dynamics that afford me to get myself and present value at every point is what sustains me today.” However, he explained that the advantages he has had from his mentors had nothing to do with undue favours from institutions or establishments.

On his passion in exploring opportunities for gas usage, Enang who has featured in many public talks in the energy industry posited that “The paradigm has changed. There is a huge change in the perception our customers want us to serve them energy – they want us to be responsible; they don’t want to be served energy that is going to be responsible for depletion of ozone layer and by extension causing global warming. The oil and gas will be transformed from being volume-centred to value-centred.

Regarding the message the attainment into the exalted league of Fellow in the NSE has sent to him, he said, “It sends a message that I have driven a fundamental change.” He concluded in a modest tone by saying, “The genius of my story is not that I have made it; it is that I am just starting.

“With all these, I make it with God and very strong persons that have come my way and without an establishment. Some people are born into aristocracy, some into dynasties, some into their parents’ companies and get projected by the companies.

“My story is on pedestal of God with very few intentional mentors. That is what makes a difference.”

-Independence

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