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Much ado about national honours award

As Buhari prepare to depart, Nigeria is in need of serious reforms

National Honours Awards are awards that are officially given to people for their contribution to national development. The award captures all activities of individuals adding value to the country in all spheres of human endeavour.

The award extends to recognise citizens of other countries who have rendered service to the benefit of the nation. It consists of a set of orders and decorations which are conferred on worthy recipients on a yearly basis. Honour is a sacred virtue that has been recognised by man since the beginning of organised societies. There is a surfeit of conferment of honours in Greek history and the history of the church.

The English writers from Christopher Marlowe to T.S. Elliot threw light on how honour was appreciated in their time. It is a precious virtue everyone will like to have and none will like to lose. “The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation: that away, Men are but gilded loam or painted clay”.

The National Honours was established by the National Honours Act CAP. N.43 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. The Act empowers the president to establish by warrant, the Nigerian Order of Dignity to honour deserving citizens who have contributed to the development and progress of the country as well as to any human field of endeavour.

One of the notable Nigerians honoured was Gabriel Ogbechie, the group managing director of Rainoil Limited, a leading indigenous downstream oil and gas company in Nigeria, who was recently conferred with the Officer of the Order of the Niger by President Mohammadu Buhari.

For Ogbechie, the honour is indeed a reward for what he has given to Nigeria and Nigerians, and is still giving. It is a deserving honour for a true Nigerian whose life is a classic example of the Nigerian spirit of resilience, doggedness, and diligence. A graduate of Production Engineering from the University of Benin, Ogbechie has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and operations experience in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

As an irrepressible Nigerian, Ogbechie identified opportunities in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas, and he took the bold step to start Rainoil Limited in 1997. Today, the company ranks among the leading downstream oil and gas companies in Nigeria. Ogbechie has, over the last 25 years, overseen the growth of the group’s business operations across the entire downstream value chain with huge investments in the agro-allied, among others.

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Rainoil Limited has three ultra-modern petroleum product storage depots which are 50 million litre capacity multi-product depots in Oghara – Delta State, Calabar – Cross River State and Ijegun Egba – Lagos State. The company also has an 8,000 metric ton LPG bulk storage facility in Ijegun, Lagos State; over 150 retail petrol stations and LPG plants spread across the country, and a fleet of over 250 petroleum product tank trucks for efficient delivery of products to the Rainnoil network of stations and customers across the country.

A leader by example, Ogbechie leads a workforce of over 2,000 employees and he has successfully built sustainable systems and culture in the organisation. His unflinching adherence to the organisation’s core values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and safety has caught up with the workforce and this has been customers’ experience with the organisation over the years. A multiple award winner, Ogbechie has a couple of prestigious awards in his closet, some of which are the Downstream Company of the Year Award at the 2020-BusinessDay Nigerian Business Leadership Awards, Downstream Man of the Year Award at the 2018 Oil Trading and Logistics Conference, and a finalist at the 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Widely travelled and recognised, the Rainoil boss holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Technology Management from Novena University, Nigeria. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s 57th Owner President Management Programme and a pioneer member of the Lagos Business School Owner Management Programme. He sits on the boards of a number of companies operating in the financial services, oil and gas, agro-allied and real estate sectors. He is also the chairman of Norsworthy Farms, Eterna Oil plc, Fynefield Petroleum Limited, Rainoil Logistics, among others.

In giving back to the communities, Ogbechie, via Rainoil Limited, has been at the forefront of social responsibility by investing in the social and economic lives of Nigerians. He has supported several humanitarian initiatives, including academic and sports scholarships; financial support to orphanages in Lagos and Abuja; provision of physical infrastructure and public amenities to local communities in Delta State; medical outreaches, and employment opportunities in Rainoil host communities. A passionate lawn tennis player, he also hosts an annual lawn tennis competition that features participants from within and outside Nigeria.

The very humble Ogbechie considers it a thing of joy to have been singled out alongside 473 others for the national honour. According to him, it is gratifying to be recognised by one’s country out of over 200 million people for such an award. He found the honour encouraging and he has determined never to relent in giving the best of value, products and services to Nigerians and humanity.

Omuojine, an executive director at Rainoil Limited, writes from Lagos