My parents took a loan to pay my school fees – UNILAG first-class graduate-Adeshina Badejo graduated with 4.58 CGPA from the Department of Petroleum and Gas Engineering, University of Lagos.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
Since I graduated in November 2019, I have made attempts to secure a graduate internship in the oil and gas industry but it hasn’t worked out as planned, so I decided to prioritise personal development so as to be ready when the opportunities come. I started my journey in the world of Data Science by taking online courses and attending the training. I also enrolled in soft skills training, while volunteering in the Annual Mathematics Conference and Exhibition. I’m currently a 2020 Batch ‘A’ stream 1 corps member.
What are the companies you have in mind?
I would like to work in a forward-looking company with a great work culture, where I would be constantly focusing on challenging energy issues and innovations and utilising my full potential as a reservoir engineer. There are quite a number of companies I believe would give me this opportunity, including Schlumberger and Total. However, this is not an exhaustive list. I’m willing to work in other international oil companies/indigenous companies that would provide the opportunity for me to grow and be a world-class engineer. I love engineering being a profession that encourages innovation and is not boring.
What were the things that attracted you to engineering in the early days?
My love for further mathematics and desire to solve problems were some of the things that attracted me to engineering. Initially, all I knew was I wanted to engineer but I didn’t know what aspect to go for. So, in my secondary school, I was given an assignment to write an essay on the topic: ‘Nigeria: The Giant of Africa.’ It was then I read about Nigeria having enough gas reserves to power the entire African continent and solve the epileptic power supply which characterised my childhood. So, I became interested in that aspect of our national life.
Beyond the general knowledge of petroleum and gas engineering, could you tell us what the course entails for the benefit of students who want to consider it?
Petroleum and gas engineering deals with the exploration, production and transportation of hydrocarbons – crude oil and natural gas – as well as the analysis, modelling and forecasting of future production performance of fields. It involves the use of knowledge of mathematics, chemistry, physics and geology to solve energy-related problems. Petroleum engineering is subdivided into three broad specialisations: reservoir, drilling and production engineering. It’s an interesting field.
Many people believe the main job prospects of the course are the oil companies, are there other areas where it is relevant?
Many people see petroleum and gas engineering as a course that is restricted, but it is not. The most amazing thing about it is that it encompasses knowledge of other disciplines such as chemical, electrical, mechanical, civil engineering and geology. So, there are other areas where the skills of petroleum engineers are needed. A reservoir engineer who is simply a petroleum engineer with specialisation in accessing resources in the reservoir and managing assets will find it easy going into investment banking.
Other relevant areas are public sectors, geothermal industries, carbon capture, utilisation and storage industries. For me, I aspire to be a world-class and renowned reservoir engineer, who would help Nigeria to unlock and harness her huge gas reserves while also achieving the goal of net zero-emission. At the end of my stay in the industry, I hope to pass the knowledge acquired to academia.
In the automobile industry, the world is moving away from fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, do you have fears about the future of this course?
Truly, the world is shifting towards a more diversified energy mix so as to achieve net-zero emissions, but I have no fear at all. Rather, I take such an opportunity. From my secondary school, I had been taught about diversification to enable me to key into any available opportunity. This is the essence of a well-rounded education. University will expose people to an array of opportunities and they should not be rigid with what they have studied. Based on that, I have no fears about the future of my course. Recently, I enrolled in the Massive Open Online Course titled ‘Tomorrow’s Mobility’ by the French Institute of Petroleum. The course exposed me to a new perspective. Electric vehicles might be a good option regarding pollution, but there are still issues to solve before we all can drive an electric vehicle. Fossil fuel will still remain dominant and petroleum engineers will be needed for the next 30-plus years to provide the supply needed by the global demand.
Crude oil is a natural resource that has turned the world around, how has this course impacted your perspective about nature?
Petroleum and Gas Engineering has made me realise that nature can often be unpredictable and that resources that emanate from nature can significantly impact or impair our lives depending on how they are managed.
In 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the Nigerian economy lost N233bn to gas flaring, which translates to 3.8 per cent of the global total costs in 2018, how does this make you feel, especially as someone who knows the benefits of gas?
We all know that Nigeria is a gas-rich province, producing little oil. Despite this, homes and industries are unable to benefit from this full potential as they are faced with poor power supply. It is appalling and makes me sad whenever I hear the amount of money lost to gas flaring yearly. I believe with the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Train 7 project and the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, gas will be better utilised going forward. And aside from power generation, other uses of natural gas that Nigeria is not taking full advantage of include production of methanol and ammonia for fertiliser production and hydrogen production, which is a primary feedstock for the chemical industry, and others.
With your interest in the course, did it make graduating with a first-class degree easy?
First, reading the success stories of first-class graduates when I was in secondary school inspired me, hence the motivation was already there. So, from my days as a diploma student, I planned and worked towards graduating with a first-class degree and my determination paid off. But like you asked, having a deep interest in your course has a role to play. Students, especially the new ones, should know what they want and go for it without fear. Don’t be coerced into studying a course you don’t have an interest in. However, it is said that nothing good comes easy, so having excellent results required a lot of discipline, self-denial and consistency and there were days I had to adopt extreme reading measures just to understand what I was taught. In my view, education is the only lasting legacy parents can give their children, and having a first-class degree is possible for anybody regardless of their background. For students already in school, do your best to finish well. Do not be discouraged by the lack of incentives for academic excellence in the country. The study, develop yourself while waiting, and the opportunities will come.
When did you start having grades that would give you a first-class degree?
I gained admission through the foundation programme (UNILAG Diploma) so I started having excellent grades right from my first year in the degree programme, which was 200 level. One commitment I made was to always attend the introductory class for each course at the beginning of the semester because it gave me the opportunity to know the lecturers; their rules, expectations and grading system. I also had to deny myself of ephemeral pleasures just to attain that feat.
When I was much younger, my parents encouraged me to read the autobiography of heroes and heroines who positively impacted the world and that motivated me to seek excellence. I also made sure I revised what I was taught in class every day while I devoted my weekends to reading extensively. I slept for about seven hours daily and read for at least four hours during the week, but on weekends, I read till I was tired. My father always told me that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown and that with global competition, the best is required of any university graduate. Thus, he said I should ensure I graduated with a first-class degree, and that encouraged me a lot. I thank God for His favours and my parents for the much they did.
Did you have a history of having outstanding results before you got into university?
Yes. In my primary school, I was the Head Boy because of my academic performance and for my secondary education, I was also the Head Boy because of my excellent results and moral standards. I eventually emerged as the best graduating pupil in my set and when I took the Senior School Certificate Examination in SS2, I passed excellently but my parents insisted that I should continue to SS3 and graduate normally. I passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination again in SS3 but in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, I didn’t have the score for my preferred course, Petroleum and Gas Engineering, which made me opt for the foundation programme that eventually qualified me for Direct Entry following my excellent performance.
Were you troubled when your cut-off mark didn’t qualify you for the course?
The mark qualified me for admission into the polytechnic and after a long deliberation with my parents, I accepted to go to the polytechnic with plans to retake the UTME. I purchased the form to study Geology at the Polytechnic Ibadan, took the entrance examination and was offered admission, but a few weeks after, I got to know about the UNILAG foundation programme and purchased the form that year. Although it was expensive, my parents summoned the courage to take a loan, because they saw it as another lifeline for me to study the course I had always wanted without wasting an academic year. I want to thank my parents again for their sacrifices.
What bothers you about Nigeria and what do you think could be done to correct it?
I’m not happy about the lackadaisical attitude of our leaders; their self-centeredness, self-aggrandisement and lack of consideration for the sustainability of the future. Except there is reorientation for those at the helm of affairs, the situation might become worse. The power supply is a potent requirement in all facets of development and unless there are meaningful and aggressive efforts to address the incessant power outage, things may not be as expected. Here again, the issue of leadership, discipline and sincerity of focus is germane to solving the problem of poor power supply. Finally, the attention given to education is nothing to write about. This is why brilliant people end up leaving for foreign countries where they will be appreciated. There should be more investment in the education sector and reward for academic excellence.
Were you involved in other school activities in school?
Yes, I was. I was a representative of my department at the oil and gas bar in the Faculty of Law; I served as an officer and programme chairperson for Society of Petroleum Engineers, University of Lagos Students chapter, where I initiated the maiden edition of ‘The Industry Discourse’. I also founded Team Synergy; a group interested in solving energy-related issues.
What was your most memorable moment?
One of my happiest moments was in my 200L when I saw my first semester results and they were excellent. Another happy moment was when my group, ‘Team Synergy’, won a grant of €1,000 in the 2018 Team Total Grant Competition.
How would you have felt if you had not graduated with a first-class degree?
I never imagined not graduating with a first-class degree, but if it had not happened; I would have been a little bit disappointed, considering the efforts and sacrifices I made.
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