Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri is both a businessman and politician who is Chief Executive of Typha Cenia Nigeria Limited. He is also President of the Nigerian Institute of Welding. Edebiri, a recipient of the national honour, MON, began his professional welding career in the Petroleum Training Institute, Delta State, and recently, he obtained an MBA from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
Over the years he has championed the introduction of several innovative and revolutionary technology in the Nigerian oil and allied industry, making him a key player in the drive for technology transfer in the industry.
He is a member of several professional organizations including being an outstanding member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Energy Institute UK.
Since becoming president of the Nigerian Institute of Welding in 2006, he has since recorded a number of achievements and is still working with several professional bodies, international organizations and government agencies to improve and standardize the practice of welding in and develop local capacity in Nigeria.
In the interview below, Edebiri says Nigeria needs at least 10,000 welders by 2012 if the country must industrialize. Excerpts:
How do you do quality assurance and control in welding? Do you use any software to ensure quality in welding practice?
Welding practice is by procedure qualification and to get procedure qualification, it takes time, laboratory analyses and all that. What we do now is to utilize the existing laboratories but we are not certified enough yet. We are setting up our own laboratory and are gathering equipment. we believe that by the middle of this year, our laboratory will be up and running, and we will have first class laboratories where we’ll do our procedure qualifications. These are iron and steel welding, alumunium welding, copper welding and all other kinds of welding. We assure quality by procedure qualification.
Can you let our readers know about some of the innovative technology in the area of welding?
Thank you very much. Before I answer your question, let me inform you about the existence of a news analysis which indicated that for Nigeria to be industrialized and be able to service the oil and gas industry and other sectors of the economy without expatriates coming to take them over and lord it over us, we must produce at least 2,600 competent welders for the oil industry. For the larger economy, we must have trained at least 10,000 welders by 2012. When I became president of the Institute of Welding, I discovered that the present government has mandated some intervention agencies like PTDF (Petroleum Trust Development Fund), NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) and others to actualise this. To bridge this gap, they needed to work with us but I discovered that like so many things we need in the area of manpower, there is shortage of skilled personnel. You see, you can not produce welders in such numbers when there are no competent trainers. You cannot help the industry to grow when there are no adequate fabrication yards and construction facilities. You can not have a fabrication site when there are no competent coordinators. and I have made this suggestion to PTDF and they appreciated it. They applied to our late former president of blessed memory, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to approve the request of the Nigerian Institute of Welders.
We trained welding instructors abroad
You see, we need to produce instructors, we need to produce supervisors and we need to produce coordinators. We went ahead. We trained our instructors and supervisors in South Africa, and we trained co-ordinators in Turkey. Today we can boast that we have competent welding instructors, supervisors and competent welding co-ordinators in the country. Having done that, NDDC also
asked us to help train welders. We also told NDDC the PTDF is going to train welders. We have trained the instructors to handle their welding programme, and then we have taken 500 candidates in Nigeria to be trained as competent welders. Each trainee will have a minimum of school certificate but incidentally over 30% of them are degree holders who want to become professional welders. By the end of this year, we would have produced over 1,000 competent welders for the region. PTDF and NDDC are ready to take the next batches. By so doing, we will stop the foreigners from coming in to take over this exotic job of professional welding in the industry from our people because our people can now do it.
That apart, the intervention agencies are also working to establish convenience areas. For instance, PTDF is trying to establish an underwater welding centre and when they have done that, we are going to train about 36 instructors. At the end of that, we will have competent underwater welding instructors. These people will do intervention jobs under the water, they are going to do surveillance jobs under the water, they are going to do welding and maintenance jobs under the water. There are so many areas of work to be done. That training will be conducted this year in either Germany or France. When they complete their training, they will come back here to the centre we set up.
Institute of Welding Engineering underway
Above that the most critical part and the most outstanding achievement is what I told you about — setting up of a national centre of excellence in welding engineering and technology. We are building on a site along Benin-Sapele Road on 6.8 hectare property. By the time we finish, that will be the best welding centre in Africa.. At completion the centre will offer instruction in about 15 to 20 components of welding that are presently not available in this country. By then we can get any component and do procedure qualification. We will also have a research centre where we will research into new tools, new technology and we will produce the papers and send to industries. By 2015, we should be able to produce our own specialist welders in Nigeria. We believe that the centre will do so much for the nation’s industrialization drive, I’m sure you know that no country can industrialize without welding. The bedrock of engineering is welding. If we must attain the vision 2020, we must be competent and proficient in welding.
How will these fit into the development agenda of government?
Wonderful. Wonderful in the sense that Nigerians will now be able to take upon welding job, supervision, coordination and now we can boldly say instead of carrying all the construction job abroad, come and construct here in Nigeria. We have people who will do the wiring, people who will do the inspection. For instance, at the moment, NDDC is going to train over 40 international welding inspectors .That has been approved by the board and they will proceed with their training in first week of April. We have competent people that will do the testing in the laboratory. We are setting up a world class laboratory in this welding centre, the facilities should be there, the technology should be there.