A chartered engineer on a mission to make Parliament carbon-neutral by 2050 has been named as the new Serjeant at Arms.
Nigerian-born Ugbana Oyet, 43, takes over the top job later this month, following the retirement of Mohammed Kamal El-Hajji in the summer.
Ugbana is well known already to many Members of the House through his role as Parliament’s Principal Electrical Engineer and Programme Director for the Estate-wide Engineering Infrastructure and Resilience (EWEIR) Programme – which aims to make the parliamentary estate carbon neutral by 2050.
But the ceremonial part of his new role will make him even more visible as the carrier of the House of Commons mace during the Speaker’s procession, and into the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.
Ugbana Oyet said:
“It is a great honour to serve in such a historic role, which combines the needs and challenges of the modern era, while also maintaining the dignity and essential traditions that have helped Parliament endure.
“I’m a real people-person and love working closely with MPs, staff and members of the public, so I will do my best to enhance morale and improve the excellent service already provided by the Serjeant’s office.”
The Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:
“I have known Ugbana for several years and have always been impressed by his ability, his attitude and his approach to other people. My longstanding impression of him was confirmed when he won a diversity and inclusion award for being an ‘an inspiring role model’.”
In addition to his ceremonial role, Ugbana will run a team of 70 staff, covering the Serjeant’s Office, the access team, the doorkeepers and business resilience.
As Programme Director for EWEIR, Ugbana’s main role has been to make the parliamentary estate more energy efficient and carbon neutral by 2050. In 2018 he reduced the cost of providing emergency electrical power to the estate from £1m to £275,000 a year.
A chartered engineer and fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ugbana has a strong track record of delivering multi-billion pound projects, from a £1.8bn village complex and gated community in Abu Dhabi – in time for the first Grand Prix in there in 2009 – to a new city in Saudi Arabia including a power station and desalination plant worth tens of billions of pounds.
Born in Nigeria, Ugbana moved to the UK with his family in 1991 and was at school in Chichester when he met Claire, his childhood sweetheart who later became his wife. The couple have four children – three sons and a daughter aged between 14 and 23.
In his spare time, Ugbana plays basketball with his sons in their local team and sings with the St Mary’s Undercroft choir at one of the staff Carol services in Speaker’s House.