Engr John Oguntokun

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Highlights of his interview

Born in Lagos, March 1950; early education in Lagos and Fiditi in Oyo state; parents decided on secondary school at Fiditi to ensure he did not turn out a rascal; later came back to Lagos and started working; worked in over six companies before joining the National Bank and thereafter joined the Nigerian National Shipping Line after a dream where his father forewarned him to go to the NNSL; his set was sent to UK, Southampton and Riversdale College of Technology; remembers over 20 other NNSL cadets at the same time schooling in the UK; peers include Engr. Charles Uwadia; after the first two years course he was sent to Mv River Ogun while Uwadia was sent to  Mv Ahmadu Bello; also went to University of Surrey; came back to sea after the university education; also worked for Forest Neptune, a subsidiary of Schlumberger Oil Services company; due to the challenges, he left them and returned to seafaring at NNSL until he reached the position of Chief Engineer; left NNSL in 1983; had become a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineers by this time; his experience of promotion in NNSL which was rapid because of the availability of positions unlike in the foreign shipping lines; the role played by Nigerline UK and the problems that set in after it was Nigerianized; first voyage from Liverpool to Rouen, when he was crying out of fright; unlike those who sailed to the UK on their first trip out, his set was flown to Heathrow Airport aboard British Airways; the voyage from Roen to Hamburg and Lagos; the cargoes carried; other voyages he made; the routine of a cadet engineer’s duties during voyages; the noise of the engines, resumption times and walking around the engine room throughout the shift; remembers an incident at the boiler when he wanted to take a sample of the steam, he was burned and still has the mark on his body because of the extreme heat; engineering problems experienced at sea around Sierra Leone which the NNSL engineering crew had to repair on their own; recalls thorough training as a cadet; ships sailed in and the onset of container carriage; based at Liverpool; joined Dunlop Nigeria in 1983 after leaving NNSL even though it cost him up to 70% of the paycheck he was earning as a seaman; why he made the decision, because he loved vibrant life while seafaring was comparatively boring; married in 1986 to a nurse, connected through his friend, Uti; blamed management as the cause of the downfall of NNSL; his regrets: he was wasteful with his huge earnings; views on “gbagbati”, hardly a cause for the downfall; his experiences at Dunlop Nigeria; company plan for him to get an MBA from University of Lagos; in 1990, there were rumbles with the top management about laying him off because of ambitions to become the Sales Director of Dunlop; he left the company in 1990 and set up a private consultancy on ship management; in 1995, set up Engineering, Maintenance and Inspection services since then; the activities of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors.