By GABRIEL OMONHIMIN –
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lee Engineering & Construction Limited, Dr. Leemon Ikpea, who has been a major player in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy for 46 years, has commended the good nature and behavior of some traditional rulers in the oil-bearing communities of Nigeria.
Singling out the Olu of Warri, Ogiamen Atuwase III, His Royal Majesty Pere Ayemi Botu and some Ovies in the Niger Delta Region of the country for their accommodation and cordial relations with oil companies operating in their communities.
Chief Ikpea, however, appealed to leaders and communities in the region, who are hostile to oil and gas companies in their domains to be more charitable and follow the good examples of the kings and people earlier mentioned saying, “Many Nigerians are very hardworking, they are equally very dedicated people, while majority of the Nigerian youths are ready to work, but if the work is not available and the environments where this work is available are hostile, it then becomes a problem, the country will invariably not prosper as expected. That is why my advice to most communities where I find myself is to always tell them, that if they are lucky to find some people coming to invest and site their companies in their communities, the least that is expected of them is to cooperate with such company owners and the workers they bring to work in their communities. They are therefore to consider such an act as a rare blessing, which they should be grateful about. The Community leaders and the people should endeavor to work with such people to bring progress to their places. If this is done, the company’s management will be watching and noting developments in due course the company will be left with no other option than to give back to these host communities for all their assistance in helping them to grow.
Sadly, in some communities in the Niger Delta Region, the hostility of the leaders and people in these communities usually prevents companies coming to set up in their areas because they don’t feel safe.
He continued, “I Chief Leemon Ikpea grew up in Warri. Warri in those good old days. While growing up in Warri as a young man, we had oil companies like MacDemond, alongside very many oil companies in Warri then. There were so many other activities going on in that City, but unfortunately, Warri unlike in the past is today an empty shadow of its old self. As we speak today, there is virtually nothing going on in Warri. For example, it is because I am a Warri boy, that is why I located my official base in Warri, just because I can’t run away from where, I grew up.
I must therefore seize this opportunity to thank His Royal Majesty, Ogiamen Atunwase III alongside other first class kings and Ovies in the Niger Delta Region for being such a wonderful host. I do have a very strong personal relationship with these kings. They have all been doing their very best to assist me and also help my outfits in their communities in doing their businesses effortlessly without any rift or rancur. This we are very grateful about. My appeal therefore, is for some leaders and communities in this same region to learn to co-operate with upcoming contractors trying to do business in their communities. My appeal is for them to cooperate with these young companies so that they also grow as we did. As most of the sponsors of these young companies are Nigerians they are not foreigners, even if they are foreigners, community leaders and their people need to learn to work with these people for them to grow and help develop their places. Nigerians want to give back to Nigerians and as such, it is unreasonable for Nigerians to be seen to be hostile to fellow Nigerians. Once we learn to show love to one another God’s blessings will surely follow.
On the Nigerian Senate investigating committee verdict, that commended him, for coming clean, not found wanting of any infractions in the N250 billion Naira Gas Expansion programme Fund Probe that was recently concluded, that gave a clean bill of health to Lee Engineering Company Limited, Chief Dr. Leemon Ikpea said, “My company and I, regard this verdict as a victory for the truth, integrity, industry and competence and an honour to all the genuine players in the Nigerian crude oil and gas industries. Dr. Ikpea in this exclusive interview, said, “I guess you know where we are coming from, as this is my 46 years in the Nigerian Crude oil and gas industry. We built the Warri Refinery in the early 70s, I was a Manager in that Refinery in 1984 when we were building the place. Not as a staff but as one of the major contractors that built that place. So, over the years, I have come to know and appreciate greatly what integrity is. I know what it is to be honest and hardworking. It is therefore usually very sad when some group of people for no justifiable reasons try to blackmail one, for selfish and malicious reasons, such an ungodly act gives one severe pains in the process.
He added, “Have you been to Lee Engineering facility in Warri? In that facility alone, we are taking care of more than four thousand people, multiply this number by three persons for example in a family, times this number that will give you on average about 12,000 people in one facility alone. I have over these years invested in this factory in Warri and I have spent more than over 100 million dollars in this place alone. At this point, we are at the completion stages of this particular factory. At some point in recent times, I discovered that we were short of funds. As expected I borrowed some money from my banks which is normal, as no business man or woman can survive without occasionally accessing some facilities from the banks. I therefore approached my banks and borrowed some money from them, I was therefore shocked and surprised when I saw an advertorial in the newspapers which included the name of Lee Engineering among the companies that allegedly borrowed money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which was not true. If you must know the truth, I have never done anything in my entire life with the CBN and I honestly do not know anybody up till this day in the CBN. I was therefore shocked when the name of my company was included alongside companies that allegedly borrowed money from the CBN. So, the Nigerian Senate Committee headed by Senator Agom Jarigbe, invited my company alongside other companies accused of these infractions, about a week or so ago to Abuja, I went to the place with all my staff, it was at that particular meeting that I told the members of the Senate Committee investigating this matter, to endeavor to go to Warri and see for themselves our little efforts, what we have been doing over the years in Warri. The committee members truly went to our facility in Warri and they were amazed at what they saw on the ground. I was not there with them as I was already out of the country on some other assignments when they came visiting our facility, as I just returned back to the country from Qatar on Tuesday, the 5th of December 2023. I was told by my staff, who were on the ground to receive them, that they were highly impressed.
Dr. Ikpea further stressed, “It is human nature to see petty jealousy and attempt to blackmail people, who are minding their daily businesses and doing their jobs to the best of their ability.
Dr. Ikpea said, “As far as I am concerned, there is absolutely nothing for anybody to be jealous about me. Or an attempt to shoot me down, as at today that I am speaking with you, I have done my little beat at helping the people and communities where I operate to the best of my ability. As a way of giving back to the communities where I operate as part of my company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and as a way of thanking God, for his good gesture towards me, and to appreciate better the good God in his infinite wisdom has bestowed on me as Chief Leemon Ikpea, I have trained more than 50 doctorate degrees holders in various fields of endeavours. Most of these people I have never met in person and they are not my relatives or tribes men and women. Most of these people are already working. While two of these boys I trained are presently in the United States Marines corps serving the United States Government in whatever capacity they find themselves. Before taking up the responsibility of training these boys, who are today in the U.S. Marine Corps, I had never met them. I only saw their names on social media and that was how I took up the responsibility of training them. In the same spirit, I have again trained more than 200 students in various institutions across Nigeria. As we speak, so many people are enjoying my personal sponsorship and scholarships. Ditto for sick, fragile, and weak people especially elderly in the society. Men and women, who were in their sick beds at the point of death, which God used me to rescue and help to restore their health. Many of these people I sponsored their medical trips to India, Germany, London and the United State of America. As we speak and just recently, I paid for all the medical bills of an old man from Effurun Community in Delta State, he is presently in London taking treatment. This particular man was in the intensive care unit in a hospital in Port Harcourt when his people got in touch with me. These honestly are the things that give me immense joy as a person. I always want people to be happy through me, not unnecessary pettiness, jealousy and blackmail that some people get involved in that makes no meaning to me. This is why Chief Dr. Ikpea is different from most people.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Agom Jarigbe, who headed the Senate panel that oversee how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention fund was disbursed and spent, in a personal letter dated, Tuesday, December 5th 2023, addressed to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Lee Engineering and Construction Limited, declared that the committee found Chief Ikpea and his company not to have committed any infraction as far as the subject matter was concerned. This same letter commended Chief Ikpea for his immense contributions to the growth of the oil and gas industry of the country. Saying that Chief Ikpea’s zeal and development efforts need to be emulated by other companies in Nigeria.