Catherine Uju Ifejika is a Nigerian lawyer, distinguished Abusite and Chairperson/CEO of Brittania-U Nigeria Limited (BUNL); an indigenous petroleum company for upstream exploration and production, and Brittania-U Ghana Limited (BUGL). She is the first and so far, the only woman to become chair and CEO of an Upstream E&P Company in Nigeria.
Ahe is believed to be one of the six most powerful women in oil and gas in the world and one of the richest women in Africa. She has received both national and international awards for best practices in business leadership.
Catherine Uju Ifejika was born on 28 October 1959 in Opobo in Rivers State to Chief Clifford Ogwu and Elizabeth Ikpeze. She obtained her basic education at University Primary School, Nsukka and her secondary education at Queens School, Enugu, among others.
Uju Ifejika graduated from the prestigious faculty of law Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Diploma in Law and an LLB (Hons.) in 1985. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1986. In addition to being a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, she is a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) and a fellow of the Institute of Arbitration and Conciliation.
Catherine Uju Ifejika‘s Career
Catherine Uju Ifejika served a required year in the National Youth Service Corps at Texaco and went on to work in the oil and gas industry for Texaco and Chevron. She joined Texaco as a Junior Counsel in 1987, spent two years at Texaco Overseas Petroleum Unlimited from 1988 to 1989, and was Acting Chief Counsel by 1991. This gave her experience in both the upstream and downstream aspects of the petroleum industry.
By 1997, she was the Company Secretary and the Manager of Public and Government Affairs. As of 2003, she became Company Secretary for Public and Government Affairs for West Africa, a position in which she deals with Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Ministry of Arts and Culture of Nigeria from 2001 to 2002.
In 2007, Uju Ifejika became the Chairperson/CEO of Brittania-U Nigeria Limited, a Nigeria-based affiliate of the oil and gas company Brittania-U Group. the company was registered on 15 December 1995 according to the Nigerian Company and Allied Matters Act but did not become active until 2003. Brittania-U Nigeria bought a stake in the Ajapa Marginal Field, an oil and gas field that is believed to have reserves worth $4.3bn.
They took advantage of a government initiative for the development of marginal fields and raised money through local investors. In additional to Brittania-U Nigeria, Uju Ifejika has established Data Appraisal Co. Ltd. (2001), Nexttee Oil & Gas Trading Co. Nigeria Ltd. (2009), and Brittania-U Ghana Limited (2010).
As an indigenous company, Brittania-U Nigeria has partnered with local Nigerian communities, hiring locals, and engaging in community development programs. Uju Ifejika has stated that Brittania-U’s main objectives include people’s well-being, a better quality of life, job opportunities, and a safe and clean environment.
Brittania-U, made history when it acquired Nigeria’s biggest oil vessel in 2019. Reacting to the feat by the indigenous oil company at a maritime event in Lagos, Princess Vicky Hastruup, chairman of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) said;
“The acquisition of the largest vessel in Nigeria by a woman was a very daring move and needs to be commended. To acquire vessels to service the international oil companies (IOCs) is not a mean feat and that is why the federal government must make and enforce enabling laws and policies to support such investments. Ifejika acquired the biggest vessel owned by any Nigerian. I was very proud that a woman has the capacity and courage to acquire a big vessel like that.”
Catherine Uju Ifejika is married to Emmanuel Ifejika and has three biological and three adopted children.
Mrs. Ifejika has been recognized for her various achievements in the energy sector and in different organizations.
In recognition of her sterling leadership/managerial achievements, the United States Commercial Service awarded an international partner award to the Brittania-U boss in February 2015. She has also been recognised and won many accolades, some of which are:
Nigeria Women 50-50 Awards, Ministry of Women Affairs
Global Business Ambassador; Nigeria-USA Chamber of Commerce
This Day Annual Award/Recognition for “45 Women of Excellence and Distinction” from Wimbiz
African Oil & Gas Amazon of The Year Award – 2011 from African Business Leadership Awards
African Most Outstanding BusinessWoman Gold Award of Excellence from All Industrialists Businessmen Association of Turkey
African Business Woman of The Year from Black Pumps
Other Awards Include:
- 2012 African Female Energy Leaders of the Year Award in the United – Kingdom by the Center for Economic & Leadership Development
- The Nigerian Trailblazers Award
- Montage African Woman of Excellence Award – 2013
“Catherine Uju Ifejika has emerged in recent years as one of those rare dissidents of venerable expectations and traditions, such as that men should be wealthy and powerful, while women remain the accompanying luggage. Madam Ifejika has flipped the table, being notoriously wealthy enough to buy her own country, and it won’t consist of only bananas and coconuts either.” – ThisDay