Chief (Dr) Leemon A. Ikpea: Honest administrator par excellence
In celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day, Nigerian NewsDirect is focusing on publicity of the capability of Top 50 Professionals in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry and their contributions to the Nigerian economy 19 years after the enthronement of democracy on May 29,1999. The selection of these professionals will assist foreign companies and political leaders to appreciate the capability of professionals in the oil and gas industry before and after signing of the Nigerian Content Act on April 22, 2010. It is to bring to limelight how certain professionals have been able to weather the storm of competition with foreign companies and experts before and after the enactment of the Act.
Can foreign companies patronise any company owned by a Nigerian? What could make a Nigerian to take over the job of recruiting staff for a foreign firm?
Chief (Dr) Leemon A. Ikpea: Hardwork pays
In this first edition of the Special Report on TOP 50 PROFESSIONALS IN NIGERIA’S OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY, we are celebrating the capability, the commitment, transparency and personal development of Chief (Dr) Leemon Ikpea, a major player in the oil and gas industry. He was born on 19th December, 1956 at Ewatto, Esan South East, Edo State and happily married with kids.
The first interaction by Nigerian NewsDirect with this noble professional who rose from grass to grace through hardwork and transparency was a recognition award during a dinner of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, United States of America (USA).
As an experienced businessman, and a distinguished Executive, he did not just make a name for himself but also has contributed immensely to the field of engineering and construction activities in the oil and gas industry.
Nigerian NewsDirect is celebrating Chief (Dr) Ikpea who as a result of poverty managed to finish secondary education at Baptist High School, Orerokpe (about 30 minutes drive from Warri, in Delta State by Car and two hours by foot). He could not make his result but refused to submit to challenges. In a recent interview, in pursuit of excellence, he narrated how he pushed trucks and sold newspapers among others to become a professional not only recognized within Nigeria but in far away USA.
As a student, he was mocked by colleagues for his inability to pay school fees early.
Sometimes, he spent four weeks outside school to work and save money for his school fees. In display of honesty, if he received 5 or 10 pounds, he gave everything to his father with a reward of prayer.
This background is necessary particularly for young Nigerians with a desire to get to the top so that they will learn to be trusted, honest and transparent.
In his own words of encouragement for youths about his job experience at Washoe Darlington Inc. (UK) May 1977- May 1980, as a wages officer
Chief (Dr) Ikpea said: “One good thing about life is that when you are working you have to be honest and commit yourself to the job because people are watching you and these were British people, who were watching me and I did not know”.
Weshoe Darlington Inc. (UK), a specialist in tank construction at that time was engaged in the construction of the Warri Refinery, which started in 1976. The first phase was inaugurated in 1978. There were various phases until the completion of the petrochemical section.
On completion of the project and relocation of the company from Nigeria, the Managing Director recommended Chief (Dr) Ikpea fondly called Leemon for employment by Snamprojetti, an Italian company, the major contractor that built the refinery.
Weshoe was building tanks, repairing collapsed tanks because they had the technology, while Snamprojetti built the refinery, the petrochemical plant, also because of their expertise. He obtained his university education as a personnel manager on site inspecting production works because Nigerians were the ones doing the job while the expatriates were only supervising and providing equipment. He did not spend his time in air-conditioned office drinking tea.
This becomes his first reward for hardwork and transparency.
He received his second reward for being honest and hardwork when
Snamprojetti had to wind up in 1988 and leaving only three workers. But before they left, they needed to build five tanks but this time they awarded the job to ABB-SOIMI. SOIMI was a company that ABB bought over. When Smaprojetti was about to transit to SOIMI, his boss Mario Betulli called him and asked if he was interested in working with SOIMI and he accepted.
Again, for the third reward when Chief (Dr) Ikpea decided to quit in 1990 and decided to set up his own private firm Agbon-Lee Enterprise which transformed after a year to Lee Engineering Construction Limited, the Managing Director of SOIMI put him in charge of all their casual workers even though he was no longer a worker. He received 18 per cent of the worker’s salary to ensure absence of strike and no disturbance.
With this contract, he bought a 40ft container where he started his business and within a year of leaving the company, things improved and he bought a Peugeot 505 and a Mercedes Benz; second hand cars that were very strong.
Today, the company of Chief (Dr) Ikpea using his competence and transparency as the benchmark for patronage moved from a 40ft container to a bungalow at Crystal Palace Estate and then to his own property at NPA expressway, occupying about seven acres of land. This big office inaugurated in 2012 has been well-equipped with modern facilities to the extent that anything you find in Saipem, you will find it there, as well as anything you find in Europe. The major clients are Shell, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and International Oil Companies (IOCs). He remains one of the Champions of the Local Content Initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria today.
Ikpea has shown that steady growth is far better than nothing. He is a self-made man with proven and trusted character.
Ikpea was awarded recently with the patriotic achiever’s award, the distinguished leadership role award, N.T.A distinguished peace ambassador award and many more in recognition of consistent loyalty & patriotism to our great country.
Corporate Social Responsibility Projects
Chief Ikpea isn’t all about engineering as he is also a great philanthropist.
Ikpea has, at different times, single-handedly sponsored various infrastructure developments in his home State, Edo, and Delta State his business operational base as listed below:
Construction and commissioning the electrification of Okpokunoe community in Delta state.
Construction of a town hall in Amukpe in Delta State.
Construction of community guest houses in Okari and Ogoloma communities in Okrika in Rivers State.
Construction of security perimeter fence of Ekpan primary school in Delta State
Construction of rural water project for Ewatto community that was inaugurated by the former Executive Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole
Sponsorship of the construction of roads in Magodo residential area in Lagos.
Provision of speedboats to ease marine transportation for Odidi and Kantu communities in the coastal area of Delta state to mention but a few.
Also, as a Christian, he has been involved in supporting the development of churches as well as sponsoring of Christians to Holy Pilgrimage to Israel and Rome. Under this scheme, no fewer than 15 individuals have benefited.
Donation of 100 kva generator to St. Leos Catholic Church, Ikeja Lagos.
Donation of 150 kva generator to The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Sapele Road, Benin City, Edo State.
Financial assistance for the pediatrics treatment of life-threatening ailment via Nigeria Child Welfare Fund.
Sponsorship of flood management and control (public works) for Ekpan community, Uvwie Local Government, Delta State.
Financial assistance to flood victims at Okwagbe community, Ughelli South Local Government, Delta State.
Furnishing and equipping of Ekpan Community Youth Secretariat, Uvwie Local Government, Delta State.
Financial contribution to Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Navy Barracks, Effurun, Delta State for the building of Mission House.
Donation of note books to Ekpan Community Youths Secretariat in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.