Late Obiefuna Timothy Nwasike, an engineer, popularly called Obi by family and friends was the first child of four children born to the family of Edmund Phillip Onuora Nwasike and Maud Odinchezo Nwasike (nee Mbanugo). He was born on 7th September 1954 at St. David’s Hospital, Cardiff, Wales, UK while his father was training in mining operations, and subsequently graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering in 1952 and 1st Class Certificate of Competency from the University of Wales, becoming Nigeria’s First Mining Engineer.
O.B. as he was fondly called in the family, came back to Nigeria with his parents in 1955, and their family grew to include his siblings: Chike (Chyke), Uchenna (Nana) & Ndubisi (Syke). They lived at 19, Park Lane, GRA, Enugu, Nigeria where his father, Edmund, re-joined the Nigerian Coal Corporation. Edmund rose steadily from the role of an Under my Manager to the apex of the Coal Corporation as the Acting General Manager by 1959. By 1961, he was appointed as the General Manager, Nigeria’s first indigenous mining engineer. Obi’s mother Maud, a pioneer in ladies’ fashion ran her boutique design and dressmaking business.
Obi’s primary education was at All Saints School Enugu from 1962 to 1965 and in between, he attended Zixton Public School, Ozubulu in 1964. In 1966, Obi commenced his secondary school education at Government Secondary School, Afikpo.
Sadly, the family’s tranquil life was shattered by his father, Edmund’s sudden death at the age of 46 in 1967. Obi was just 12 years old. His mother Maud was left to bring up four young children on her own. Shortly after, the Nigerian Civil War broke out, and all schools were closed for three years.
After the civil war in 1970, Obi continued and finished his secondary education in 1971. He passed with flying colours making a Grade 1. He completed his higher secondary school studies at Kings College, Lagos, Nigeria, where he came out with top grades.
In 1973, Obi went to the UK, in search of the ‘golden fleece’, like his father, studying Mechanical Engineering at the University College of Swansea, University of Wales. His undergraduate studies were sponsored by The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), who had awarded him the highly coveted Shell Scholarship. He graduated in 1976, with a 1st Class BSc Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering. Additionally, he won The Institute of Mechanical Engineers Prize for the Best Graduating Student in June 1976, having won the Frederic Bacon Prize for Excellence for the 1974/1975 session.
Upon graduation from Swansea in July 1976, Obi was awarded another scholarship, from The Ford Foundation, which enabled him to undertake postgraduate research in Environmental Engineering Science at The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In July 1976, he graduated with a master’s degree (Distinction), which was followed by a short period of research in The Combustion of Coal Particles and Impact on Air Quality in the Los Angeles Valley.
On his return, Obi was employed by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in 1978. He commenced in Shell, Warri, as a trainee gas design engineer. During this period, he met his beloved wife, Mary, and they were married on the 5th of June 1982 in Warri, Nigeria. Their marriage was blissful, blessed with three children- Chijioke (CJ), Chioma (Judith) and Eudora (Ogechukwu).
By March 1987, due to his continuous accomplishments, Shell sent Obi on an international assignment to Shell UK, working out of their Shell Mex House headquarters on the Strand in Central London. He worked in Shell UK for two years in London and additionally in Aberdeen for two years, as a Senior Process Engineer.
On return to Nigeria, Obi worked in various roles across Shell Nigeria. He gained invaluable exposure in Human Resources, Project Management and subsequently, Facilities Management.
Obi worked at Shell Petroleum for a total of 22 years. He was highly skilled with an extensive career across the oil and gas industry, in various capacities as a technical consultant and project manager. Obi was a trailblazer, with a plethora of innovative achievements during his time in Shell. In 1998, Obi was listed in the Marquis List of Who’s Who in Science & Engineering (Fourth Edition 1998/1999), as an individual who has demonstrated outstanding achievements in Science & Engineering.
Meanwhile, Obi’s siblings were also making progress and making their mark. Obi had 3 siblings, Chike (d. 2018) qualified as a chemical engineer and thrived in the IT sector, Uchenna, a Medical Doctor, and Ndubisi, a Barrister and World Bank Consultant. Obi and his siblings shared an inseparable bond, and Obi continually kept a watchful eye on them
During his remarkable career, Obi contributed technical solutions to several projects, with the ripple effect still evident over thirty years later. A few memorable facilities benefitting from Obi’s expertise include the Gannet Oil Field, the Osprey Subsea Field, the third process train at St. Fergus Gas Plant, Peterhead, Scotland, The Shtokman Field, Russia, which is one of the largest natural gas fields in the world as well as countless other projects.
As Obi progressed in his career, he continued to gain expertise across the oil and gas value chain. After a three-year stint as Head of Facilities Management in Shell Nigeria, Obi transformed the delivery of facilities management services by introducing innovative solutions that enabled customer satisfaction levels to increase from a low of 30% to 70%. Working methods and business language that Obi created and deployed in that role as Head of HR General Services, were still yielding benefits in Shell Petroleum twenty years after Obi left Shell Port Harcourt. Obi retired as the Head of Facilities Engineering & Deputy Engineering Manager, Shell, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Due to his yearning for entrepreneurial desire, Obi decided to take early retirement and start his latency firm, Chester Mead Associates (CMA) in 2000. CMA is an engineering design and project management company, that delivers design solutions to local and international companies in Nigeria, as well as the supply of manpower to clients in the Niger Delta region. CMA thrived under his leadership, employing over 400 contract and permanent roles, with numerous successes within the business sphere. Clients included Shell, AGIP, Total Energies, GTBank, Nestoil & Enugu State Government, to mention a few. Obi retained an executive role as Principal Consultant, and utilized techniques learnt throughout his career to developing sustainable ecosystems, with diverse interests across the energy sector.
In January 2004, Obi relocated with his family back to their home in Basingstoke, UK, where Mary worked as a Frailty Practitioner and Well-Being Counsellor, and their children were in full-time education. During this time, Obi continued developing his professional network, embarking on numerous process engineering consultancy roles across Europe including stints in the UK, Scotland, and The Netherlands.
During this time, Obi became passionate about grassroots politics and actively engaged stakeholders, focussed on implementing change, in which he joined the Liberal Democrats Party. In April 2004, he ran for elective office and won a seat on the Rooksdown Parish Ward as a Councillor. In this role, he delivered two important solutions to the residents – A play area for children, and the placement of road signage to enable visitors to gain easy access to Rooksdown. During his tenure, he actively campaigned with Rt. Hon. Charles Kennedy, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats as well as other high-ranking members of the Liberal Democrats Party.
Still eager to implement change across the social spectrum, Obi was actively involved in leading community organisations. From 2005-2007, he was on the Council of Governors of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as well as a School Governor for Fort Hill Community School, Basingstoke. During this time, Obi served as a Director of the Sickle Cell Society, UK, from 2005-2006.
In 2006, Obi co-founded and was the pioneer Chairman of the Alpha Mead Group, which is a total real estate solutions company, by 2010, had grown to become one of the largest real estate companies in Nigeria, with a presence in over 12 African countries. Alpha Mead has received numerous awards including being listed as one the fifty fastest growing companies in Nigeria and the London Stock Exchange Group (LESG) Companies to Inspire Report in 2019. After a fulfilling tenure at Alpha Mead, Obi gracefully retired from the board in 2019 in a star-studded event “The Inflection: Achievements. Reaffirming Vision”.
Over this extensive period (2005-2014), Obi continued to work in the industry as a Director and Consultant for several blue-chip companies, including a stint as Gas Manager for Seplat Petroleum, the largest indigenous oil and gas company in Nigeria, where he developed the gas roadmap currently in use today. Additionally, he attended and presented technical papers at international conferences across the globe, including Namibia, Norway, Switzerland, Qatar, the USA, and the Far East, to name a few.
In 2014, Obi was appointed as an inaugural member of the National Council of Power, Nigeria (NACOP), set up by the Federal Ministry of Power to implement policies geared at providing sustainable power supply across the national grid. In 2017, Obi was a keynote speaker at the South East Governor’s Forum, Enugu, Nigeria, where he presented a master plan for a gas pipeline around South East Nigeria, which would create a nexus cycle for industrial and economic development, which garnered a rousing reception by all the Governors at the time.
A pioneer of Nigerian Local Content, and eager to harness the oil and gas value chain potential, Obi created Novantus Energy, co-owned with 18 investors, focused on developing sustainable gas solutions to spearhead development across South Nigeria. These solutions include WTE (Waste to Energy) solutions in conjunction with Abia State Government, and the South-East Gas Pipeline Project, as well as business solutions, including CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) deliveries to remote large-scale off-takers across Southeast Nigeria. In addition to this, Obi was a co-founder and one-time non-executive Director of Frontier Oil, a marginal oilfield company developing the Uquo field in OML 13 of Nigeria’s onshore area, currently averaging crude oil production of 1,100 barrels a day.
Obi’s many other roles in the industry included:
• Senior Process Engineer, Skanska Whessoe UK Ltd, Darlington
• Consultant to AGIP Kazakhstan Caspian Sea Operating Co, Brentford, London
• Consultant Process Engineer, Genesis Oil & Gas, London
• Managing Director, Genesis-CMA JV, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
• Process Engineering Study Manager, Petrofac Engineering, Woking
• Consultant Process Engineer, Genesis Oil & Gas Consultants, assigned to Shell E&P Projects Team, Scotland
• Senior Project Manager, FODE UK Limited; assigned to Chevron, Lagos Nigeria
• Vice President, E&P Division, Global Energy, Lagos Nigeria
• Managing Director, Afren-Global Energy Resources (AGER), Lagos, Nigeria
• Principal Consultant, Chester Mead Associates Ltd, Lagos Nigeria
• Gas Manager, Seplat Petroleum, Lagos Nigeria
• Technical Advisor, BlackBerg Private Equity Fund, Geneva, Switzerland
• Director, Cutix Plc, Nnewi, Anambra, Nigeria
• Director, Frontier Oil, Lagos, Nigeria
Outside of work, Obi’s interests were many and varied. At the core of his existence, he lived for philanthropy and was keen on human development and social impact innovations, giving equal opportunities to as many as possible.
He set up an NGO, The Hill Syke Foundation (HSF), in August 2000 with seven trustees. The goal was community engagement geared at supporting women and empowering widows to create sustainable income streams. Additionally, a scholarship fund was created to assist disadvantaged youths with full scholarships from primary to tertiary education level across Anambra, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Lagos, Ogun, and the Kaduna States of Nigeria. HSF is funded by free-will donations from Obi and his wider family, including the trustees.
Throughout his life, Obi was intrigued by continuous professional/personal development, and as a result, he was an avid reader and writer. In 1999, in conjunction with Professor Ossie Enekwe and the Hillsyke Foundation, he published a book on his father titled “Edmund Nwasike-Trail in the Mines-The Life and Works of Edmund P O Nwasike”. Shortly after this, in 2003, Obi wrote and published a book titled “Christian Perspectives for Business Success”, based on his experiences and how his Christian approach to business influenced his successes. In 2015, he started drafting his follow-up book titled ‘Leadership Issues and Lessons on how to improve National Governance’, which was modelled on successful project management techniques which had proven effective in the oil sector
During the pandemic, Obi commissioned a book on his grandfather, Chief Timothy Muodozie Nwasike, a pioneer Christian in Ogidi, Nigeria as well as a Warrant Chief and renowned civil engineer and carpenter, which was published this year.
Obi was a committed Christian, who was a long-time member of the Anglican Communion, where he was an ordained lay reader, alongside his wife, Mary. During his time in Lagos, he was a founding member of the New Era Anglican Church in the Lagos Anglican Diocese. When he relocated to the UK, he attended Trinity Methodist Church, Basingstoke, England with his family.
Unfortunately, Obi took ill and passed away on the 1st of August 2022, surrounded by his loved ones at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, UK.
As painful as it was, Obi left a long-lasting legacy on the world through his plethora of achievements and his philanthropic work, which created life-changing opportunities for so many people, and his light will continue to shine.
LONG LIVE UGWU CHUKWU DEBELU!