By Jeffery Igbinigie
“Paint my picture truly like me,” – Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) told the artist about to paint his portrait, “pimples, warts, and everything as you see me.”
Engr. (Dr) Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi, the former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC; Engr. (Dr.) Chris Ogiemwonyi, the former Minister of State for Works, Federal Ministry of Works, presents avant-garde views or perspectives to writers who indulge in the enterprise of questioning and contextualizing the essence or quintessence of grandees.
In such an enterprise, the subject matter becomes a captive in the fertile imagination of the writer who is at liberty to either build or dismantle primordial prejudices; or deconstruct or even reconstruct the persona of the subject on the writ large platform of conscionable journalistic interrogation.
Engr (Dr) Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi
Perceptions and perspectives assume free reins. That is the tragedy, so to speak, of heroes. They are subjected to the vagaries of characterisations that most times encapsulate both the sublime and the ridiculous; the garish and the outlandish; the profound and the jejune; the profane and the celestial.
There is always the existential fear about the double-edged nature of good and bad that media hype breeds. The fear of the occasional collateral damage, yes, of the unintended consequences, is real and grisly.
Yet, it could be salutary, somewhat, to introspective self-assessment of how well one has fared whether rightly or wrongly in the domain of public perception, especially for those whom have heard public office in the past, who must be taken through the critical appraisal index. It is in this context that the essential Chris Ogiemwonyi cannot escape essential consideration.
Ogiemwonyi, without a doubt, means different things to different people.To some, he remains a gentleman petroleum Engineer; to others, he is an astute politician and strategist with rare legerdemain; some more see him as a philanthropist with capacity for cornucopian eleemosynary while some perceive him as a passionate technocrat who has his people at heart .
These are not all to the variegated perspectives: some see him as a budding religious aficionado as a Knight in the Anglican Communion while others see him, as traditional for his receptiveness of the traditional honour given to him by the revered Oba of Benin; Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo,Oba Erediauwa, who presented to him the Royal Coral beads in recognition of his contribution to the development of Benin Kingdom.
But my preoccupation herein is to illuminate the philosophical underpinning of the man, whose entirety evokes, at once, multiple perspectives by admirers and traducers alike. I could have adapted the one-liner summation of the French philosopher, Rene Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” meaning “I think therefore I am” when he was asked who a man is, to answer the question as to who Chris Ogiemwonyi is.
Who is Engr Chris Ogiemwonyi ? And what are his essences? I could settle for one of the perspectives supra in a quick riposte and go ahead to adumbrate his essences within the narrow confine of just a perspective. The former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC ; The former Minister of State for Works , Federal Ministry of Works; A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress APC, in Edo state and a strong believer of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
A recipient of the Justice of Peace, JP, Edo State Government; A recipient of the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award; Patron, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS; Patron, Association of Community Newspapers Publishers of Nigeria, ACNPN; Patron, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Edo State Council; A Knight of Sacred Order of Saint Christopher, KSC; Life Patron, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN.
Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, who proudly holds the membership and fellowship of several professional bodies, including being a Member, Society of Petroleum Engineers, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, and former President, Nigeria Gas Association, is reputed to have equally chaired several boards and committees while in service, all attesting to his enticing capacity and capability to perform at top level administrative and managerial positions.
It is on record that apart from chairing the N-Gas board, Hyson/Calson JV and directing NETCODIETSMANN, Ogiemwonyi equally was member, NNPC Corporate Board; member, Presidential Committee on Independent Power Project, IPP development for Niger – Delta; member, Presidential Committee on accelerated Expansion of Electricity Infrastructure; member, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN; Former Council Member, Petroleum Training Institute, Warri; and former member Nigermed.
Doctor of Engineering, PhD (Honoris Causa) and Doctor of Science, PhD (Honoris Causa) in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Therefore, Chris Ogiemwonyi is a fitting summation of all the perspectives and for a man to deserve this kind of approximation makes him a phenomenon.
That, to me, is the essence of the intercourse between greatness and humility. Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi is a great man.He is a humble man, regardless of his visage and poise, contoured by his disciplined public service background, which tend to be misconstrued for arrogance.
The argument is unassailable that Engr Chris Ogiemwonyi remains one of the most influential politicians in Edo State today that cannot just be waved aside and not to be considered.