Life And Times Of Larry Obuareghe , The Unsung Hero Of Nigeria’s Steel Industry

The Oasis Reporters

January 11, 2017

Engr. (Dr.) Larry Obuareghe

Inside St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Ase, venue of the interment service.

Engr. Larry’s two sisters, Maria Emiri and Sylvia Edemenya.

Dust to dust Rites

Nieces and nephew of late Dr, Larry Obuareghe at the reception

When President Shehu Shagari came to commission the Delta Steel Company (DSC) Ovwian Aladja near Warri, his hopes were high. But all he could see that afternoon inside the complex in 1980 was a sea of white heads in engineering overalls. He wondered if his speech was not empty after all.
Nigeria to become a true giant of Africa with steady progress in Steel production, managed by German engineers?

“Where are the Nigerian engineers”? He asked Rilwanu Lukman.
When he shook hands with Dr. Lawrence Oghenekome Obuareghe later on , he breathed the word, ‘hope’, to him.

This hope became manifest when the Continuous Casting Machine in the Steel Melt Shop was completely burnt down. The German Expatriate Technical Advisers wrote the machine off as scrap and therefore stayed away from it’s rehabilitation. All that they wanted was for a completely new one to be brought in from Germany at a cost of several hundred millions in dollars.

Then Engr. Larry, as he was fondly called, was the AGM of the Shop. As a determined technocrat, he said ‘No’!
He quietly assembled a team of only Nigerian engineers, with very limited resources and had the machine roar back to life, from Scrap to Savior of the workshop, saving the company hundreds of millions in dollars.
To the consternation of the Germans, Engr. Larry became a hero and a legend.

In his tribute to a quintessential boss, Engr A. T. Abe, a former MD/CEO of Delta Steel Co. Ltd wrote, “it is on record that the highest daily production of Liquid Steel was achieved when Larry was the AGM of the shop ”.
He further said,” It is sad, very sad that Larry, a consummate and dedicated engineer is departing this world leaving DSC, a Steel Plant he worked so hard to put on the world map, in such a comatose condition”.

Lawrence Oghenekome Obuareghe was born on 20th January 1945 in Ase, Ndokwa East Local Government of Delta State. As a scholarship kid, he was amongst the 8 persons that the Midwest State government sent to the USA for further studies in 1972.
Starting from St Michael’s Catholic School, Ase, he proceeded to St. Patrick’s College, Asaba in 1960 and to Edo College, Benin City for his Higher School Certificate in 1966.
At the University of Lagos in 1968, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. At this point, the Midwest State government offered him full scholarship to study for his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, Texas, where he equally obtained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
He also received an MBA in Operations Research at the same institution.

Further education took him to the International Centre for Advanced Technical and Vocational Training, Turin, Italy (1981), as well as Hamburg Steel, Hamburg Germany (1981-1982).

Working Career

He worked with Brown and Roots Marine Operators Inc, Houston TX, (1976) and the Platzer Shipyards Inc. Houston TX (1979-1980).

He also worked with the Federal Ministry of Works and Transport, Benin City as a Mechanical engineer and furthermore with Bendel Breweries, Benin City as a Production Engineer (1979-1980).
He joined Delta Steel Company as an assistant Chief Engineer where he rose to the position of General Manager, Steel Making. He was in charge of all engineering services at the company and was nicknamed “The Engineer Per Excellence”.

After retirement, he managed a firm of Consulting Engineers – Rotann Engineering Services (Nigeria) Ltd.
He is survived by Evelyn Obuareghe, his wife and seven children.

He was buried in Ase on the 27th of May, 2016.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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