Mr Toochukwu Osuji is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director, Process at Greenocks Biodiesel Limited in Lagos. It is a start-up firm and refinery that refines waste vegetable oil, converting it to biodiesel to power diesel engines.
Daily Trust encountered Mr Osuji at the biofuel convention of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) recently in Abuja where the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had charged the private sectors to take charge of providing alternative fuel towards relieving Nigerians in the wake of rising petrol prices.
Speaking during an interview session, Osuji, a young graduate of Chemical Engineering from Covenant University in Ota, Ogun State, decided to start up the business after submitting his final project on biodiesel refinery at the university.
He said: “We founded this company in 2017 and I convert waste vegetable oil to biodiesel. It was my final year project at the Covenant University where I studied Chemical Engineering.
“I must say that this is not an innovation because it is existent in other countries, but the trend is just developing in Nigeria as alternative fuel,” Osuji said.
But to a lot of people, the trend of having alternative diesel fuel may be new. According to Osuji, “Biodiesel is an alternative for diesel that can run diesel engines. Anything that diesel can power, biodiesel can also power it. It works for cars, for generators, tractors and any other heavy duty machine.”
Although it is gaining acceptability, the refinery boss said marketing the fuel product is still a challenge. “Marketing our products is still our key challenge as it is quite new, but we have an association that is trying to conquer the challenge that we have.
“We have 500 to 1,000 litre production capacity daily but we can go beyond that as the demand improves,” he noted.
Rather than seek a white collar job, Osuji said he held unto his vision after graduating. He wants other youths to develop such a vision and pursue it.
“The good jobs in Nigeria are quite difficult to come by, so I advise Nigerians that the energy they will put into seeking for those good jobs can be used to start up something and in the near future you will be proud you made that decision.”
In a further advice to the government on youth empowerment, the Secretary General and Director of Technical at the Biofuel Refiners, Producers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Mr Paul Ugburo, said young people are the future of this country based on what is happening now.
He said: “With a little innovation on what Osuji is doing, he can engage over 20,000 youths in his factory.
“We are focusing on him as the beacon for youths in the area of biofuel and we are believing that in 10 years, he will be the person that will drive the process in this sector.
“We are letting the government know that if they want to invest in young people, they can enable them to go out and do it because we have the technology in Nigeria to create a biofuel refinery without going to China or other places,” Ugburo noted.
He also emphasized that other youths can be empowered to create smaller refineries and refine biofuel as alternatives to petrol which has proven efficient for users and customers in Lagos and more in other countries like Brazil.
Ugburo said: “There are a lot of things we can do with environmental waste to create biogas and other alternatives to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and other mainstream fuel sources that are climate friendly. China started to encourage such entrepreneurial tendencies on clean energy and today, they have really gone far.”