Why NSE Honoured Azibaola Robert, Founder of Zeetin Engineering by Austin Ekeinde

Why NSE Honoured Azibaola Robert, Founder of Zeetin Engineering by Austin Ekeinde

Editor's note: Austin Ekeinde, communications expert and public affairs commentator, writes on why the Nigerian Society of Engineers honoured Azibaola Emmanuel Robert, managing director, Kakatar Group and founder, Zeetin Engineering who pioneered the handling of some major engineering breakthroughs in Nigeria.

At the just concluded Annual General Meeting (AGM) and investiture of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) which held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, one thing stood out during the ceremony, as prior experiences were that paper qualifications weighed far above practical experience and delivery in estimation of people which was reversed.

For the first time, premium was placed on those actually blazing the trail in engineering and technological incubation which was like a return from the exile of vainglory to put our ailing nation on the tracks of technological and engineering liberation.

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NSE Honoured Azibaola Robert
Former President Goodluck Jonathan celebrating with Azibaola Robert on his investiture. Photo credit: Zeetin Aenginerring
Source: Facebook

Chosen for honour in the new order was Azibaola Emmanuel Robert, managing director, Kakatar Group and founder, Zeetin Engineering who pioneered the handling of some engineering jobs hitherto the exclusive preserve of foreign companies in Nigeria with the attendant capital flight.

Justifying the choice of Azibaola Robert for the honour, the president and chairman of council of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Engineer Babagana Mohammed said:

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“I present to you Azibaola Robert, a distinguished icon who has been a mentor to many engineers; that has engineered many engineers. And the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) finds it fit today to consider him for this honorary award of the Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).”

Also, former chairman of NSE, Abuja Branch, Engineer Osita Ben-Ossy in lending his voice to the choice and honour, stated:

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“Let me also add that Mr. Robert, FNSE, has contributed a lot to the development and growth of engineering than what you have seen here today. That is why the motto of his company, Kakatar, is Nigerians Building Nigeria.
“He believes so much that only Nigerians can build Nigeria. That is why he pays Nigerian engineers what expatriates are paid. That is a big encouragement to our engineers. He has also donated to the NSE several computers to aid our work.
“So, the NSE deemed it fit today to give him this honorary award of the Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE). Azibaola Robert, FNSE, is a lawyer with the heart, mind, soul and spirit of engineering.”

To further justify being picked for honour and as a beacon for other Nigerian youths who feel disadvantaged by their circumstances of life, Azibaola overcame all the drawbacks of life to become a shining star and therefore a good reference point for the reformation of the youth.

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Born 13th February 1969 at Otakeme in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state, Azibaola Robert is the fifth child of his mother, Madam Irene Yepaye Uriah, who raised him and his siblings, as a single mother.

Bereft of the advantages of life and without the assurance of going to school due to lack of resources, Azibaola completed primary school at Baptist-Day Primary School, Port Harcourt; and by miracle, proceeded to attend secondary school at Owema Secondary School, Otakeme, where he rose from a not-too bright boy to become the best student of his class and the entire school, excelling in all Science subjects.

Considering his high intelligence quotient and proficiency in the sciences, added to his high work rate that saw him breaking new grounds, it was the expectation that he would someday become an engineer or a medical doctor. By twist of fate, all fingers of nature combined to steer him away from his childhood obsession and he ended up studying law at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt, where he graduated with a 3rd Class Degree in 1993 (BL) and a 2nd Class LLB from the then Nigeria's only Law School in Lagos.

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He was called to Bar in 1995 as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. After a moment of practice, he resumed duty-call as a pro-democracy, human and environmental rights advocate, against military rule in Nigeria, at that time, where he joined forces across the country, to fight and win the soul of Nigeria to democracy.

Azibaola Robert is not one to live under the line and while in the university, was a student leader and a vice president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). On Nigeria's return to democracy in 1999, he left active civil-society advocacy, and founded Mangrovetech Limited, a civil engineering company which transformed to KAKATAR. His sole aim of founding Kakatar was to challenge an established perception that Nigerian engineers were incapable of administering and building the infrastructures of Nigeria.

He created the slogan: 'NIGERIANS BUILDING NIGERIA' as part of his advocacy for the Nigerian engineers, and proceeded to employ only indigenous engineers to build both the Maitama Extension, and the Kyami Districts in Abuja, amongst several other projects across the country.

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The quality of work on these projects dusted those of the so-called expatriates thereby debunking the notion that Nigerian engineers were only paper tigers and good with theories. That restored the confidence and drew government attention to the need to use indigenous companies to handle even sophisticated jobs.

In 2018, Azibaola Robert founded Zeetin Engineering; a precision engineering, high-end technology, and heavy-duty company and in his purpose-driven way of life, sited a state-of-the-art factory in the Idu Industrial Area of Abuja.

With unquenchable drive to achieve and its array of machines and equipment Zeetin prides itself as Nigeria's precision engineering company with a focus to kick-start and advance Nigeria's technological development.

Through his various companies Azibaola Robert has employed several Nigerian engineers over the years providing them mentorship and kindling in them a desire of 'l-can-do spirit'.

Today, Azibaola Robert, together with his colleagues, is consummating himself, to the self-task of designing, and producing a wholly, made-in-Nigeria automobile engine, pioneering a domestic electric car design and production as well as catalysing the process of making other heavy-duty machines and Original Spare parts production in Nigeria for Nigeria.

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Azibaola is a social thinker, a practical hands-on personality, inspirational writer, and creator of things. He prides himself as 'the carpenter", a childhood obsession. He has vast practical knowledge of many aspects of engineering – civil, electrical/electronics, Hydraulics and high-pressure systems, aerodynamics, CNC machining, Portable Circuit Boards (PCBs) and more.

He is a genius at operating machines, including Cranes, Excavators, Dozers, Articulated trailers; CNC machines, such as Lathes and milling, Plasmas, Water Jets and more. He is a software enthusiast, including website designs. He melts into machines in a manner that baffles as if there is an innate communication between him and the machines which he transits in operating with ease in an area that require strict expertise.

While pushing through his passion for Nigeria’s engineering and technological development, Azibaola has remained true to his goal for the environment: protection of wildlife and commitment to climate change.

Azibaola Robert is an inspiration to those who work with him and his followers.

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He is married to Stella Robert and, together, they have four daughters, namely Yepaye, Zoni, Emmanuella and Azibasuam.

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