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Dame Winifred Akpani: The Amazon of oil, gas, and banking industries

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It is no news that the male dominated oil and gas sector is not for the lily-livered. It takes guts, skills and capacity to even attempt an entry.

However, Dame Winifred Akpani, has not just just made an attempt but cemented her place in the industry as a leader.

She leads Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company which operates majorly in the downstream sector and owns fueling stations nationwide.

Over the years Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited has grown to be a solid brand with international repute, and it has taken almost three decades of hard work and resilience to bring the brand where it is.

After bagging a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Benin, Benin City, Winifred Akpani went on to do a postgraduate diploma in Computer Science at the University of Lagos.

When she was to start her career, however, she decided she wanted to become an accountant.

She started as a Trainee Accountant in an audit firm – Oni Lasebikan and Co (now Ernst and Young) in 1987.

She moved on to Arthur Anderson & Co (now KPMG Professional Services), and this was where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1990. By the time she left the firm in 1992, she had already attained the position of Audit Senior.

She then joined Flame Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, a start-up oil marketing company, as a Financial Controller in 1992.

Within the next five years, she rose through the ranks to become an Executive Director in 1997 – a good position by any standards.

If she had decided to take that route to the end, there is little doubt that she would still have earned a reputation for herself in the corporate space.

However, in 1998, Winifred Akpani left to go explore the wild waters of entrepreneurship.

Founding Northwest Petroleum

In 1998, Akpani founded the Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited. This new company would become a test of her enterprise, business acumen and other skills she had acquired over the years.

With a startup capital of only N200,000, Northwest Petroleum started a business. The company carried out diesel supplies in 200-litre drums to homes, guest houses, banks and corporate organisations.

Two and half decades later, the company now handles international oil trading and services deals worth millions of dollars and has multiple investments in midstream and upstream sectors of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd. owns over a 100 million litre storage capacity in Nigeria.

Northwest Petroleum operates two ultra-modern mega Petroleum Products Storage Terminals with a combined capacity of 96.8 million litres certified and licensed by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and an Ultra-Modern Berthing Facility with International State-of-the-Art Fire Fighting and Safety Equipment, adjudged one of the best in Nigeria and sited in the Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River State.

Northwest Petroleum & Gas Company Limited also owns and operates several unique 24-and 26-nozzle Ultra-Modern Mega Filling stations across the country.

Now possessing vast experience in the importation, supply, distribution and storage of Petroleum Products, Northwest Petroleum is approved by the NNPC for the allocation and export of Nigerian Crude Oil and is actively involved in the official export.

Akpani is still directly involved and ensures quality assurance and control in all projects.

She is also responsible for formulating and developing organizational strategic business plans and policies, as well as guiding the Company’s affairs.

Akpani has other business interests across the energy, oil and gas sectors.

She is a Director of Millennium Oil and Gas Company Limited, the operator of Oza Marginal Field and Northwest Energy Nigeria Limited, a company in the exploration and production sector.

She equally has substantial interests in the banking industry and is also a Director of Fleet Travels and Tours Nigeria Limited, a first-class travel agency.

Mrs Winifred Akpani serves as a non-executive director at GDL, a company leading diversified financial institutions, creating wealth and transforming society, providing unique financial solutions to strengthen and expand the middle class in terms of savings, investment, financial access, infrastructure, housing, employment and others.

Winifred Akpani is a fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) and an Associate Member of the Institute of Directors (100).

She has taken several courses, locally and internationally across Finance, Oil & Gas, Corporate Governance and Banking.

In 2019, Winifred Akpani was elected as the Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), an organisation that unites members to advise, encourage and support the government to churn out policies that promote the economic well-being of the nation in general and the downstream petroleum sector in particular.

She is also very involved in humanitarian work and charity donations. And In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded her The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal or Cross of Honour, the highest award of the Catholic Church established by Pope Leo XIII in1888 for distinguished service to the church and humanity

For her strides in entrepreneurship in the oil and gas sector, Dame Winifred Akpani is NewsDirect’s Thriving Woman of the Week.

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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