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Dr. Ogbobe, Restoring Lost Glory Of PRODA

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The project development institute PRODA Enugu state, formally known as the East central state project development agency (ECSPDA),  a corporate body established by the erstwhile East central state government with a view to  promoting the

establishment of new industrial projects through laboratory and pilot investigations to actual construction of large scale commercial plants, utilizing local raw materials and indigenous man power.

 At that time, it  was envisaged that home grown industries could be launched very cheaply in keeping with the agency’s motto: “industrialization  through self-Reliance”. 

With the creation of Anambra and Imo state from the former east central state in 1976, the agency was then made a parastatal under the Nigerian Council for Science and Technology (NCST). It  was later renamed PROJECT DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE with its acronym, PRODA by the  federal government of Nigeria in 1980 as a research institute under the ministry of science and technology.

Its pioneer leader, the late professor Gordian Ezekwe from Anambra State, South- East Nigeria left its footprint in the sands of time in the agency, as he laid a solid  foundation for the  growth of the  organization.

But regrettably,  the  federal government owned agency which is the only one in South East Nigeria, had over the years been  engulfed in an unending crisis which   affected it’s productivity for many years.

Infact, some  citizens and Stakeholders  had nicknamed the institute ‘Headquarters of industrial crisis and  house of commotion’ in Nigeria, as some Staff who are professional petition writers had vowed that  peace will never reign in the agency.

Efforts by successive headship of the Organization to restore peace in the establishment had always hit the brick wall as the said renowned petition writers were unrepentant and remained a cog in the wheel of progress of the establishment.

However, the negative narrative in the agency changed for good about a year ago, following the appointment of a renowned Engineer and man of peace,   Dr. Peter Okwudilichukwu Ogbobe, as the substantive Director General for the Organization by the immediate past Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Ogbobe’s appointment which  has  ushered in a  new dawn in the once  crisis – ridden  agency, is a non renewable five years tenure, which took effect immediately and was contained in a letter dated May 20, 2022, and signed by the the Ex- president Buhari’s former chief of staff, Professor  Ibrahim Gambari.

 Suffice it to say that since assumption of office about a year ago, Dr. Ogbobe, who hails from Enugu state and a Chinese trained Engineer, has been able to unite all the warring groups , both junior and senior Cadres, including trade unions in the establishment.

After accomplishing the perceived challenge of restoring total and enduring peace in the agency, knowing fully well that no meaningful feat can be achieved in an atmosphere of crisis or rancour, the PRODA boss, swung into action in putting mechanism  in motion towards restoring the lost glory of the Organization in terms of reviving all near morribound facilities.

Barely one year in office, Dr. Ogbobe, a seasoned administrator, has re-written the history of PRODA, as he has succeeded in revitalizing virtually all the  departments and units  in the agency which  were before his assumption of office in near  comatose and are now functioning optimally. 

Within the one year period under review,  the PRODA boss,  embarked on huge and numerous number of projects such as construction and equipping of a state of the art Auditorium, modern ICT Centre, multipurpose hall, ongoing state of the Art  sports arena which  could be likened to a mini Stadium, a 1.9-km Asphalt  road to the institute which has remained in a terrible state over the years, amongst many others.

Most importantly, aside the provision of physical infrastructure, Dr. Ogbobe, whom some of  the Staff have described as a man of peace and  God sent to the institute has  brought sanity to the agency by unifying the three industrial  unions,  pacifying all the aggrieved staff and putting a total stop factions and disunity among staff.

The unassuming  PRODA DG, has equally revived the institute’s foundry section which is now very operational. The section has the capacity to produce some of the motor spare parts which are being imported into Nigeria.

 That is to say, if fully harnessed, the  section  has the capacity  of not only contributing  to the Nations GDP,  but would also create  huge jobs for the teaming  unemployed youths of the country, especially Enugu state and South East Nigeria.

It is also  on record that over the years, past administrations  under different Chief executive’s watch  in the institute have made efforts to  increase the agency’s internally generated revenue (IGR) and get investors/collaborators but  to almost no avail, but barely one year in office, Dr. Ogbobe, has  gotten both  local and  international investors that have indicated interest to invest in agency.

Already,  some of the Memoranda of Understanding MOU of some of them are ready to be signed for take off.

Ogbobe, has also  revived the institute’s ceramics department which is now fully operational and some of it’s R&D activities are ready for commercialization.

A Staff of the agency  who spoke to this writer under condition of anonymity said  “his open door policy and fatherly nature has contributed largely to staff optimisation”.

Furthermore, as part of his quest towards making PRODA one  of the best  research Institutes in Africa, Nigeria’s foremost research Institute, under Dr. Ogbobe’s watch has begun scientific study on Lithium Ion with a view to using it in production of Made in Nigeria Battery .

Determined to  actualize the lofty  dream for  the federal  government Institute under his  supervision, Ogbobe, has sent some Staff to India for training.

The Director General, recently disclosed this to Newsmen in Enugu  when he received in audience the executive Committee members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Correspondent’s Chapel who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

The PRODA boss, who conducted the Journalists round various departments of the Institute, said they were researching to produce Lithium Ion batteries with their own formula, saying the idea is to reduce importation of batteries into Nigeria.

He said Nigeria has enough deposits of granite,stressing that  most of the natural resources being used by the Institute were sourced locally.

The DG stated that when the Institute succeeds in producing the battery, they will source  for a private investor to market the product, reiterating that  his dream is to restore the lost glory of the establishment.

He said: “PRODA is a household name. I have a wonderful management team, and it is our vision to change the narrative in the Institute.

” I want people to know that PRODA exists, our main mandate is research. We are trying to bring transformation into the system” he declared .

Resolved to ensure that the old narrative which had been counterproductive in the agency over the years among staff is completely changed, the DG, while addressing the agency’s workers on assumption of office harped on the need for their reorientation.

He said: “So, we must reorient the mind of our staff to think towards research, because we need funds to build the institute and if you can not write good research grant, you cannot attract funding

“We will explore all avenues to get funding apart from the one coming from the government as we will partner with other countries to achieve this,” he declared.

He thereby, enjoyed the staff to convert all their petition skills to research skills stressing that “what we need now is how to move forward and make PRODA great again and not about petition writing.

Dr. Ogbobe who lamented over the series of petitions written in the part said “ let the era of writing petitions be a thing of the past as I believe that my stepping in here today will be a new beginning in the history of PRODA ,” he stated.

He also cautioned them against backbiting that can lead to a crisis, saying . “Let my assumption of duty today bring an end to all the crisis in PRODA as I assure to bring peace and end all war in PRODA”

“We must work together and support each other. I promise to be a good leader and you should be a good follower too. Don’t pull your fellow staff down, don’t destroy PRODA because it’s our home,” he urged the workers.

Prior to his well deserved  appointment, Ogbobe was the Director, information communication technology ICT, National Board for Technology Incubation  NBTI.

The competent DG, holds a doctorate degree  in mechatronics engineering, a master’s degree in mechanics/production engineering and has 29 publications to his credit in both national and international journals.

Ogbobe is a member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria COREN, Nigeria Society of Engineers NSE,American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASME, among others.

He has equally  received several awards and held various leadership positions in the past.


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