Oil Africa Leadership Awards


2021 Most Outstanding Personality Of The Year

The road to success is not easy to navigate but with hard work, drive and passion it is possible to achieve…And Sabrina Bryan said in one of his popular quotes that you can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus and the support. That was exactly the motivational vehicle Engr. Tunde Ige rode into where he is today.

I was born in the year 1963, in Akure to the family of Late Engr. Dayo Ige who happens to be the second engineer in the whole Ondo State as at then. After my birth my father traveled to United Kingdom, I had to stay with my grandmother and my mother. From there I was relocated to my uncle’s places in Lagos. There, I started my primary education at, Ojuoye Primary School.

When my father returned from the United Kingdom, he made it mandatory that I have to come and school in Akure. So, I wrote the common entrance examination and gained admission into Aquinas College Akure. I started my secondary education in Aquinas College Akure and completed it there in 1979.

-With a burning desire to become a medical practitioner but different is the plan of God in his life; as man proposes and God disposes. Engr. Babatunde Ige

During my Secondary School days my mission was to go to the University and study medicine. Fortunately, because I was very good in mathematics and some other science subjects my father encouraged me to give it a trial. I wrote Jamb but I couldn’t meet the cut off mark. I scored 247 against 280 that was required.

After my secondary school in 1980, still with the insistence that I want to study medicine, I went to Ondo State College of Art and Science Ikare (OSCAS) for my Advance Levels. There I studied chemistry, physics and biology after all the exam again I didn’t do too well. I could not make it, I had E E E, three Es…. Laughed. Studying medicine was obviously becoming an impossibility. I had to write jamb again making Civil Engineering an option. When I slightly drifted off the cutoff mark, my father advised and said “Tunde maybe you just have to change your mind and try Polytechnics” then I opted for the Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti since my cut off mark could not meet up with what was required of my dream course at Ife. In order not to further waste my time, and based on the counsel and advice of my father I made my second option my desirable.

I got admitted into Federal Polytechnics Ado and completed my course within the stipulated time with a very good grade; that was in1986. When I finish my OND I wanted to even to go for direct entry into the university but my father advised I should go to Yabatech because of my very good grades so I went for HND in Civil Engineering in the popular and prestigious Yaba College of Technology. –{Yabatech}. Lagos State.

Engineer Tunde commitment to human development and community service is not by accident. His selfless service to humanity is dated back.

After my HND I served in Ahoada local government council of River state in the year 1989. I did exceptionally well and distinguished myself as one of the best serving corps members in the state.

During my service year my responsibility as the Corps Liaison Officer in the local government gave me the privilege to find out that most of them don’t go to school. So, I had to meet with some of my fellow corps members that we should find a way we can better the lives of this people.

From there I organized extra moral classes as a means of community service for all the youths in Ahoada local government and up to Ogba / Egbema all of them converge to Ahoada for studies.

I started taking them physics, chemistry while other corps members took them on other subjects. That year they had the best result in the West Africa Examination Council {WAEC} exam. Most of them still call me till today. Many of them are now Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, etc.

When I discovered that their means of refuse disposal was not good enough, I came up with a community service initiative and I built them incinerator as my project in the state for them to dump their refuse. That stood me out and won me the Governor’s Award as the Best Corps Member in the state in 1989. That award earned me a job in federal ministry of works where I am working up till today.

Journey to Federal Ministry of works

-By virtue of his unalloyed desire to serve his country meritoriously and to be able to build a steady, sustainable and secured professional career, Engr. Babatunde Ige opted to take a civil service employment when there were corporate, private and multinational employment offers with irresistible salaries and reward packages. He took up a career job at the less attractive Federal Ministry of Works, Lagos in 1990. This decision and determination offered him uncommon opportunities of rare pupilage and professional mentorship in different divisions and departments that has overtime remarkably enriched his competence in critical areas of Civil Engineering. This robust experiences and deep knowledge among others are but not limited to -Engineering designs, highway construction, maintenance and rehabilitation, project supervision and management to mention but few.


After my youth service I worked with my father’s company; Unicon Construction Company for a short period of time as a quarry manager. I had a construction engineering background and on my father’s recommendation I proceeded to apply for Federal Ministry job for Ondo State quota. The federal commissioner in charge of Ondo State then was one Chief Kolawole, he was excited when he heard that am someone from his state. He just told me to come and collect the application form. The following day and I was employed at Federal Ministry of Works Lagos as a Higher Technical Officer in 1990. I couldn’t be placed beyond that because of my qualification as an HND Holder.

While some of my mates opted to look for work at other sectors then, I was encouraged to go for the Ministry of Works job because as a child with construction engineering background during my period of work with my father’s construction company I do travel with him to federal ministry of works then in Lagos as one of the company’s representatives to see how things were done. We will bid for contracts get them on merit, visit their sites, execute the contracts and all that; It was interesting, so my passion for the job grew, I got encouraged. Then the interest to work at the Federal Ministry of Works came. So, when the opportunity came, I was happy and I grabbed it with both hands.

When I was employed, I discovered that my class mate who were University graduate Engineers were rated higher than me based on the dichotomy between BSc and HND which put a bar; as an HND holder, you cannot go beyond level 14.  Having that understanding, I said to myself I just have to go back to school.

I was in the construction section in the Federal Ministry of work. As a new employee there we underwent one-year pupilage training, we work in planning section, bridge design, construction and maintenance unit for a one-year training; 3month in each section. After the training we were be posted out.

My area of specialization is highway so I was posted to Patani in Rivers state. On getter there I still saw clearly on site the discrimination between HND holder and BSC holders.

-Motivated by zeal for professional career excellence, the disturbing dichotomy and painful disparity between BSc and HND holders propelled him into obtaining a BSc Honours in the same field of Civil Engineering from the university of Port Harcourt almost immediately.

Worried by my discovery on the discrimination between BSc and HND holders, the quest to go back to school increased. I needed a posting to where I can be working and at the same time be studying, so I got posted to Port Harcourt where I enrolled for a Pre HND there years program, for a fresh start in Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt where I obtained a BSc in Civil Engineering in the year 1997. Thereafter, not willing to let the opportunity I had slip off me, I immediately put in for and successfully completed my Master’s Degree in Engineering Management in 2001. Not an easy journey though but I was filled with the determination to get to the peak of my career without being stampeded by lesser academic qualification.

Through the dint of hard work and rare professionalism, Engr. Babatunde Ige has achieved a lot.

To the glory of God, I have achieved reasonable in my career I have worked in various capacity as a Civil Engineer.

When I was posted to Port Harcourt as one of the Resident Engineers at Patani, the road was so bad. It takes some motorists there days to travel from Warri to Port Harcourt. Upon resumption, the controller I met there just posted me straight to the Patani-Kaiama road project. The reconstruction of the road was awarded to RCC and that became my first project to supervise and it was handled successfully; that road became very motorable.

From there because of the confidence and my performance I became the Senior resident Engineer for the construction of the Emohua-Degema-Abonnema Road and bridges in Rivers State, Rivers and Bayelsa state were still together then.

You see that bridge that link Degemo today I was the engineer in charge of that bridge in Rivers state, we did a very good job that was time consuming and energy sapping there; all the piling work, the deck and everything was supervised by my team. That was the first major bridge we constructed.

After the completion of that project, because what we did there was so impressive, we were again returned back to Odili -Andoni-Omok- Egbema to connect the road with bridge. It was a swampy area. We did it and got it completed within time. The road became accessible and got the town expanded. People were able to connect their towns via road which was initially a very big challenge.

After that project was completed, I was returned back to Port Harcourt to continue my other assignments.

Not too long after that then came the necessity for the creation of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) by Federal Government of Nigeria.

To kick start that unit some competent hands were required from Federal Ministry of Works, so before you could say Jack I was seconded to that unit as one of the Engineers to start that maintenance unit in the year 2002. That was how I found myself in FERMA.

I give thanks to God today; I have worked in various capacity in FERMA. I have worked as a zonal director in Rivers State. From there I was posted to Lagos State to head a unit as the Federal Road Maintenance Engineer Ishai Lagos East.

After four years I was transferred to Kwara state to head FERMA unit in Kwara state, from there I was posted to Oyo state, by the time I was in Oyo state I was already an Assistant Director so from there to my present posting. When I was promoted to a Deputy Director, I said wow, this position will either take me to headquarters or I become a zonal director. That is how I found myself as the zonal director North East Zone II in charge of Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa. That is where I am presently.

– His experience of navigating the geopolitical zones and coping with different challenges that came with it requires extraordinary commitment

It hasn’t been a so easy journey anyway, but I keep thanking God. Firstly, I had to settle my family in Port Harcourt right from my first posting and that became my base. Because as a family man with my type of job engagement I knew I was going to be a rolling stone, I will need to cope with work and family responsibility at the same time.

As a Federal road maintenance agency our schedule was supposed to be good maintenance of roads, but that was not it alone, we also do major road constructions instead of road patching even with the little available funds.

In FERMA we are maintaining 36 states, including the FCT that is 37. Lagos on its own could be rated as two States.

Some road users find it difficult to appreciate the good work we are doing for lack of understanding, while some other road users do appreciate. Many times, motorists will abuse us, they assumed FERMA is everything because they see them working on the roads. They don’t even have an idea that FERMA is just a baby in the Ministry of Works.

In the course of our job many of our staff have lost their lives to road accidents on the highways and other hazardous incidents. But we thank God today that we are still among the living; those are part of the challenges we face on the highway many times.

I am happy am part of the system, I have grown in the system and I am still growing. I have reasonably and tremendously contributed my part and that am still doing till date to the best of my ability and capacity, and that I will continue to do. That is where my allegiance lies.

We thank God that we are able to make very reasonable impact. I can tell you that FERMA has saved so many lives on the highways even with the resources available.

A common reason we tend to lose friends when we get older is lack of time. When you are young and have relatively few responsibilities it is easy to go out and spent time with friends but Tunde is able to still be in contact with his childhood friends, secondary school friends and a host of them. They still relate very well. He has been able to maintain that chain. How does he do that?

It is not in my nature to turn my back at my friends. Right from childhood I have learnt to value friendship and that has helped me a lot in keeping my old friends. I make new friends too and I keep them. While I agree that it is good to be careful one must also understand that nobody is perfect; if you capitalise on all peoples’ mistakes all the time you will be left alone. No doubt there will be differences, we disagree, reconcile, let go of wrongs and move forward. That is the basis of true friendship. I don’t just overlook my friends like that, I call to check on them, honor their invitations, apologise for the ones I could meet up with. Most impotantly I create time to hang out with them especially on my holidays. We discuss and have fun.

We have a forums and platforms were we normally meet longtime friends and old school mates. That gives us the avenue to chat, make jokes to relieve pressure.

My friends right from secondary school; those we started together from Form 1 in Aquinas College Akure, to when I left for Ondo State College of Art and Science [OSCAS] Ikare- Akoko, Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti and University of Port Harcourt, to the glory of God am still relating closely with very good number of them. All these associates together are my committee of friends. Some of them I haven’t seen for year but we talk. We cannot lose contact because there is always an avenue to keep that relationship alive. We meet when occasion permits.

Everywhere he goes, he carries this same spirit of good relationship with friends and replicate with co-workers in his various offices. He motivates and respects his colleagues’ opinions, give them listening ears and render necessary support at all time. He is a very hand working man who believes in possibility. Findings revealed that he is loved among his col leagues; both senior and junior everywhere he has worked. No wonder his absence is always felt whenever duty calls for change of posting.

Part of my study was Engineering Management. You don’t underrate your staff. You must know how to manage everybody. They do the work and you need to supervise them with love, even if they erred and needed to be reprimanded, I do with love. If anyone operates against the code, I tell them that’s not the way it works. I make sure I give them needed attention to help in their work and I support them to achieve result in any of the assignment given. I share the little I have with them and make sure they are happy.

Engineering work is a team work you can’t do anything alone. As a good team leader all I do is to guide them in every area of the work we do and relate with them in the most comfortable official way. Remember you have something to learn from everyone even your subordinates; that’s the way. My working style has brought many impactful results and enhanced my success at work. We achieved together and take the credit together.

On the basis of my operational style I come to realise that any time I am posted out of an office the staff wouldn’t want me to leave. My sent forth party has always witnessed series of dramas and so on, and anytime I have the privilege to visit amy of the offices I have worked before, the staff jump up in joy to receive me.

Do we say your lifestyle and generosity is as a result of your upbringing?

Yes, it is my background, it is my person. Giving has always been part of me. I could remember my father said it when I was in secondary school that anytime I travel to Lagos, from my little pocket money I will still buy toys for my younger ones when returning home. When I see how happy they feel anytime I give them it brings joy to my heart.

It is not until you have something big to make other happy. I have imbibed the spirit and tradition of giving and I pray nothing will ever change that.

Let me tell you this, as a Civil Engineer I work and I mean very very hard to earn good living, be comfortable and to be able to assist people and put smile on their faces.

People like you should be thinking of politics in the nearest future

No, no. I am not thinking or having the mind of going into politics after retirement or later in the future; I don’t want to be one.

After my retirement from service I will go back to construction work on my own as a private person. That’s the calling. I will love to create and provide jobs for people and make life more meaningful.

My wish is to be able to assist people the more in my own little way and make them happy. I love happy people around me.

Ask him what he wants to be remembered for after leaving service.

What I want to be remembered for? Laughing… I want my works to speak for me, the lives I have touched. I want to be remembered for my impact, the value I have added, my contribution to the lives of people and the Nigerian society at large.

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