B R E A K I N G!!! Prof Zacheus Opafunso takes over as COMEG Registrar/CEO

  • Support new Registrar, Ogunmola tasks staff
  • As new Registrar prioritizes enforcement of standards, revenue mobilization, staff welfare
The Registrar/CEO, COMEG, Prof Zacheus Opafunso (Left) receiving the Handing Over note from the immediate past Ag. Registrar of the Council, Mr Ogunmola Johnson (Right), during the handing-over ceremony, at the COMEG Head Office, in Abuja, on Monday. PHOTOCREDIT: Osang Images

Prof. Zacheus Olaniyan Opafunso today Monday June 1, 2020 resumed as Registrar/Chief Executive of the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG). Opafunso, who is the first Nigerian Professor of Mining Engineering takes over from Mr Ogunmola Johnson who served as Acting Registrar of the Council from November 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.

Prof Opafunso who arrived the premises of the Council at exactly 7:15am am today Monday June 1, 2020 said COMEG will be repositioned to regulate the sector effectively, stating that effective regulation of the sector will aid the realization of the economic diversification agenda, stating that commitment of the Minister who is backed by the President, will pave way for the enactment of legislation needed to strengthen the council for improved mandate delivery.

He said: “I give glory to Almighty God for a day like this. Without God, we are nothing and can do nothing,” he said, adding that all staff must be willing to make sacrifices in order to collectively realize set goals.

I am grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari who made my appointment possible by deciding not to interfere in the processes that brought me forward. President Buhari provided enabling environment by allowing the interview to hold without inference.

The professor of mining engineering who also holds a Bachelor of Laws degree commended the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite and the Minister of State, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah for insisting on a transparent appointment process.

“I didn’t know Arc Adegbite,” Prof Opafunso said, adding, “that the ministers gave contestants a level playing ground and did not interfere.”

“If the minister wanted to impose a candidate on the Council, he would have succeeded, but he didn’t do so,” he said.

“We are all here to support the extractive industry – the Solid Minerals sector and Petroleum sector to help Nigeria succeed, especially the commitment of President Buhari to economic diversification through the development of the extractive industries.”

While tasking staff to be positively minded, the new registrar said: “Irrespective of challenges, COMEG must give the best that a regulatory council can give Nigeria,” adding that he is an excelling product of an imperfect environment. “I grew up in a village, but I left village for the United States of America irrespective of challenges; as a villager, I rose to become the first professor of Mining Engineering in Nigeria,” he said, stating that under his watch, COMEG must excel by working together in line with global best practices. “So COMEG must aim for nothing else but the best,” he added.

“Of course, challenges are part of life, yet I see opportunities even in the midst of what some people regard as problem. The Council is not a bed of roses, but we will overcome those challenges.

Immediate past Acting Registrar, COMEG, Mr Ogunmola congratulated Prof Zacheus Opafunso on his appointment as substantive Registrar, and thanked the Honorable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite and the Minister of State, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah for giving him the opportunity to serve as Acting Registrar of COMEG.

The former Ag Registrar also thanked the Chairman of COMEG, Dr Ebimotimi GodsPower Okpoi and the COMEG Management team and staff for their support. He called on them to extend same goodwill to the new registrar saying, “The achievements of the Council under my watch was possible because of the goodwill I enjoyed from staff and council, I therefore call on all staff to give Prof Opafunso every support needed to realize set goals.”

“I am not stepping aside, I am stepping down from office,” Ogunmola told staff minutes before he handed over to Prof Opafunso.

Chief Executive Officer, Geocardinal Engineering Services, Engr Titilope Adeyemo described the appointment of Prof Opafunso as a “strategic move that will address the quest for professionalism and enforcement of regulatory standards in the country’s mining industry,” stating that “as a widely travelled intellectual who is patriotic and passionate about mining development, the new Registrar will  be able to institute global best practices in the Nigeria mining industry.”

Adeyemo who is a frontline figure in the advocacy for capacity building and professionalism in mining discussed the professional acumen of the new Registrar saying that “apart from being the first Nigerian professor of Mining Engineering, Opafunso is widely known as an inspiration to mining professionals in Africa and other parts of the world.”

He expressed confidence in ability of Prof Opafunso to improve the good fortunes of the council, noting that the Council will benefit from Opafunso’s wide-ranging experience in mining and administrative matters.

“Opafunso knows the legacy challenges at COMEG, and I am sure that God will be with him,” Adeyemo said, adding that Nigeria must continue to pray for her leaders; for the wisdom and direction needed to lead various sectors in order to achieve set goals.”

“By the grace of God, under the leadership of Prof Opafunso, COMEG will do more to institute professionalism in mining through rigorous enforcement of standards,” he said, adding that professionalism promote delivery of world class services in the sector, and gradually place the country in the rank of the worlds mining nations.

The Chairman, COMEG, Dr Ebimotimi GodsPower Okpoi said Prof Zacheus Opafunso emerged through a keenly contested process involving five contestants for the position of a substantive registrar for the Council. “The panel which was properly constituted carried out diligence and followed laid down due process that led to the recommendation of Prof Zacheus Opafunso to the Minister and President.”

“He is outstanding, very experienced, a proven man of integrity, very good and competent, and we believe that he has the credentials needed to get COMEG working.”

In all sincerity, the Honorable Minister has been very committed to the sector, and we must give honor to whom it is due, Dr Okpoi said, adding that Arc Adegbite must be commended for allowing Opafunso to emerge in line with set down rules.

The President, Nigeria Society of Mining Engineers (NSME), Prof Benson Shadrach Jatau commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the foresight exercised by appointing Opafunso to preside over COMEG Council. Jatau, who is a fellow of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) said: “On behalf of the Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers, I congratulate and felicitate with Prof Zacheus Opafunso on his appointment as Registrar of COMEG.”

The NSME president further said: “I commend the government, the ministry of mines and steel development, the Council of COMEG and other relevant bodies on the choice of Prof Opafunso as Registrar of council.”

Described as a vastly experienced scholar, the appointment of Prof Zacheus Opafunso is no surprise even as it comes with a lot of commendations and its attendant expectations.

After his first degree, he proceeded to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1985 where he bagged the MSc degree in Mining Engineering in 1986. Same year, he proceeded to the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, USA 1986 and bagged an MBA in 1987.

In 1999, Opafunso was enrolled for a PhD into the Federal University of Technology, Akure, bagging the PhD in Mining Engineering in 2003.

Popularly regarded as an inspiration to many, Opafunso who is the first Nigerian professor of Mining Engineering is a scholar of many firsts who rose through the ranks to become a professor in 2009.

His research efforts and findings stand him out as a man-of-note in the academia. Among the areas where he has distinguished himself are ‘Explosives Applications in Mining Industries,’ ‘Surface Mining,’ ‘Mine Health, Safety and Environment’ and ‘Mine Management, Mineral Economics and Law.’

Opafunso is a Fellow of three professional bodies: Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) and the International Institute of Professional Security (IIPS).

The COREN-Registered Mining Engineer doubles as a Registered Mining Engineer with the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG), of which he now Registrar and Chief Executive.

He is a corporate member of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) and the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM).

Prof Zacheus Opafunso is a recipient of many academic awards including Mines Research Fellowship. He has published over sixty-five insightful works to include forty-nine journals and fifteen conference publications.

Prof Opafunso is a serving Member, International Organizing Committee (IOC), UMaT Biennial Mining and Mineral Conference, Tarkwa, Ghana and was Editor-in-Chief, FUTA Journal of Engineering & Engineering Technology.

He served as Chairman, National University Commission (NUC) Accreditation Team to the University of Jos – Department of Mining Engineering in June 2014.

In 2017, he was appointed by Namibia National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to the Chair of the NCHE Accreditation Team of the newly established Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Windhoek, Namibia.

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