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Glo @ 19: Celebrating Mike Adenuga’s Consistency

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Oladapo Sofowora

 

 

If the story of the revolution of telecommunication in Nigeria is to be scribbled, the name Dr. Mike Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jnr. would be a recurring decimal. Yes because he is the quintessential game changer who softens the proverbial strong stone with his doggedness, patience, consistency and foresight. At the twilight of the revolution of mobile communication in Nigeria; Government owned and controlled NITEL was controlling the fortunes of Nigerians as regards telephone communication. That time, it was a herculean task to make calls or receive calls as they had a series of complaints of fault here and there. Because of the teeming customers with high demands, NITEl was lagging in providing service that gave some investors in the telecommunication sector the foresight to block the lacuna created by erstwhile NITEL as the Government also wanted a lasting solution to the impending and recurring issues.

On the 19th of January, 2001, the story of the telecommunications industry was going to change for good inside the NICON Hilton Hotel, Abuja at the open bidding for the three GSM licenses conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC. That very day, providence ushered the eloquent but reserved Adenuga through his company, Communications Investment Limited, CIL who emerged victorious as one of the winners of the three slots auctioned by the government alongside the then  Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited now Airtel and Mobile Telecommunications Networks, MTN and M-tel, a state-owned Nigerian Telecommunications Limited who got the fourth slot.

That audacious move for Adenuga was widely applauded because it was the only indigenous company that bid for the license and won it. It was a sentiment many people shared that a Nigerian is going to start up a telecommunication firm. As the move was being celebrated along the length and breadth of the country, Adenuga was already thinking of how to hit the ground running in meeting up the necessary criteria for the bid. He was to pay a non-refundable deposit of $20 million. As this sad reality set in when several multinationals were running helter-skelter to ensure they buy out the bid he won with their heavy financial war chest, a dogged Adenuga his quest for a digital mobile telephone licence spurred him to do what many businessmen would not have thought of. Despite not being able to meet up with the balance for the licence running into millions of dollars, his licence was revoked. Despite the CIL’s financier; BNP Paribas who contacted a bank in the United States to pay the Central Bank of Nigeria the said fee, due to some internal issues the payment didn’t come at the stipulated time which caused a forfeiture of the license as well as the non-refundable $20 million deposit.

A dogged and unperturbed Adenuga indeed moved back like the proverbial ram who during a fight moves back to strike with more firepower. Despite being disappointed at the way the deal went; his dreams still remained the utmost goal as he kept them burning like a wildfire. Instead of the tsunami directed to sink his sailing ship, like a skilled sailor, he sailed against the tides and brought back to life his unquenchable desire to pioneer the first mobile telephone company in Nigeria and African soil. On the 29th of August, 2003, the Ibadan-born Ijebu-Igbo business magnate ignited his dreams and Globacom came into existence. In a bid to show those he met in the business that Globacom is a fresh gust of summer wind, what many of his competitors said was impossible charging subscribers Per Minute on call; Globacom through Adenuga crashed that idea with a ‘per second billing’ plan which was regarded first of its kind in the country as there was a massive exodus of people migrating to Globacom. In his strategy to ensure all Nigerians further feel the new wind blowing, he demystified the myth of indigenous companies always playing second fiddle as he crashed the prices of sim cards. This made his competitors sit tight.

 

As Globalcom would be celebrating its 19th year of existence in the telecommunication business on Monday the 29th of August, the unsung hero Adenuga has remained consistent in his ideas and approach thereby making communication easy for all sundry. Despite not taking credit for the mammoth work he did, history will forever be kind to him for standing tall for Nigeria. Investing heavily in the entertainment industry by sponsoring concerts, soccer tournaments and events has also witnessed a boom in Nigeria’s entertainment and African sports sector. His commitment also allowed our music to gain global recognition through his promotion and showcasing of adverts featuring Nigerian artists on foreign media with their music. The Bull is never relenting in ensuring revolution in the telecommunication business as he is advancing to move to the newest 5G network as a means of revolution in the telecom industry.

 

Oladapo Sofowora Writes From Lagos, Nigeria 

 

 

First Published on The Nation Newspaper

Opinion

FIRSTBANK: THE EMBODIMENT OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

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Who should corporate responsibility and sustainability lessons be taken from? Some companies are still unclear about the concept but latching onto the sustainability mantra anyway, because it has become a marketing buzzword for business? Or a company through whose creed and deeds, over the many decades it has been around, people can see corporate responsibility and sustainability lived (first) and preached (subsequently)?

 

If the above set of questions constituted a question in an examination hall, it would be one of the easiest of questions to answer. Not one person would fail it. Outside the examination hall, the answer to this question that seems as easy and simple like the question of 2 + 2 may not be as easy and simple. It may be complicated by all the cleverly arranged noise and claims projected at people to make it difficult for them to see and accept the obvious.

 

So, it is incumbent on people who know, and care enough (like this writer), to keep stating and restating the obvious. This is in the hope that doing so would help others to take full cognisance of the obvious and not allow themselves to be bamboozled by image without substance and rhetoric without pedigree.

 

The concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability is not about the clever or manipulative use of marketing buzzwords by corporate citizens. It is about impact, net positive impact, in the lives of real, not imagined, people through the deliberate and well-planned activities of socially-responsible corporate citizens.

 

Even if history is no longer taught in most schools in Nigeria, the records are there. The records show that Nigeria has been blessed to have standing by her, at all times, a corporate citizen which understands the concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

This corporate citizen has been standing by Nigeria before the country’s founding, through its amalgamation, Independence and all the conflicts and crises Nigeria has gone through and still faces. Today, the corporate citizen still stands by Nigeria.

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a lender of unmatched pedigree, a bank with a history of unparalleled support to Nigeria and Nigerians (right from the colonial era to date, even serving as Nigeria’s central bank at some stage of our national development), has been a corporate citizen like no other.

 

A brand that has backed innumerable groundbreaking projects across Nigeria and beyond, FirstBank has demonstrated that real impact that can be seen and felt by all, and not mere marketing buzzwords, is the real measure of an institution’s understanding of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

It is incontrovertible that whichever way corporate responsibility and sustainability is understood or defined, FirstBank is sure to tick all the boxes. Just name every parameter for assessing a company’s efforts in corporate responsibility and sustainability and match each against what FirstBank has been doing. Is there any parameter that FirstBank has not surpassed?

 

FirstBank has been living corporate responsibility and sustainability for most, if not all, of its existence as a going concern. Knowing it cannot do it alone, the bank has also devoted resources to efforts that will enable it to preach or pass the message so other corporate citizens, groups and individuals will emulate it.

 

One platform the bank has used effectively for this purpose is its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S) Week. The CR&S Week is a full working week that the FirstBank Group, in-country and across the world where it operates, dedicates to the promotion, execution and celebration of social responsibility initiatives.

 

The Sustainability Week also includes a huge kindness campaign to reorient citizens towards the right values and reignite acts of kindness in society. It is only one of the many ways FirstBank is living true to its brand promise to always put customers first.

 

And the Sustainability Week seeks to invite others (individuals and corporate citizens) to follow the bank’s example and begin to intentionally create positive impact in their immediate communities.

 

From the inaugural edition in 2017, where the theme was “Promoting Kindness: Putting You First”, the Sustainability Week has helped to reinforce FirstBank’s role as a nation-builder that is driving sustainable development across communities where it operates. It was an opportunity for the bank to encourage others (individuals and corporate citizens) to follow in its steps, even if all they can afford to take are small steps.

 

Taking small steps may have informed the choice of theme for the second edition of the Sustainability Week in 2018: “Touching Lives: You First”. The bank sought to debunk the notion that touching lives in meaningful ways and making an impact on society require big-ticket projects, whilst emphasising the power in the little things people do and the small steps they take.

 

After all, is it not little drops of water that make a mighty ocean, like the saying goes? And does the journey of a thousand miles not begin with a (small) step, like another saying puts it?

 

Just take a look at SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness), a values-based initiative that raises consciousness promoting kindness to one another in society, which the bank started during the inaugural Sustainability Week in 2017.

 

Aimed at reinforcing FirstBank’s corporate culture of encouraging giving and volunteering among its staff and the larger society, its magnitude today and the many kind initiatives it has sparked off across the country could not have been imagined when the seed was planted five years ago. Incalculable manhours and financial resources from FirstBank staff and partners have been contributed willingly.

 

Children in orphanages, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in various IDP camps, widows and other underprivileged or vulnerable groups have been visited and their challenges alleviated if not totally eliminated. Scores of career counselling sessions with secondary school pupils across Nigeria has also been organised as part of the Sustainability Week, which has been the first of its kind in Nigeria’s financial services industry.

 

In 2019, the third edition of the Sustainability Week with the theme: “Ripples of Kindness: Putting You First” enunciated the values (or pillars) of the SPARK initiative to include Compassion, Civility and Charity. FirstBank believes that these values and the acts of kindness that flow as a result of embracing the values are critical to promoting and building peaceful co-existence and prosperity in society.

 

Among the key highlights of the 2019 Sustainability Week was a “Nice Comments Day” that was a day set aside to foster words of encouragement, support and kindness to people around one, regardless of ones’ familiarity or close ties, in recognition of the instrumental role kind words play in lighting up people’s day and bringing out the best in them.

 

Another highlight was the SPARK School Engagement that promoted the SPARK initiative in schools, with the objective of embedding the values of SPARK amongst school children at a young age so the values become part of, and habitual to, them as they develop into adulthood.

 

Due to COVID-19 pandemic and government-imposed lockdown, the year 2020 witnessed no edition of the Sustainability Week. Any attempt to stage the kinds of activities and events that usually accompany the Sustainability Week would have been counterproductive, spreading infections and possibly deaths instead of kindness and joy that the Sustainability Week has become synonymous with.

 

However, FirstBank’s avowed commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability would not allow it fold its hands and just watch while COVID-19 and its debilitating effects tried to make living and learning difficult for most Nigerians.

 

Working virtually or remotely and, where it could not do otherwise, physically but in strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, FirstBank executed several initiatives meant to ameliorate the very difficult situation in Nigeria then.

 

The bank contributed to efforts to provide palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians, announced a moratorium on repayment of loans, set up a special loan fund for businesses run by women, established another for school proprietors in collaboration with a state government and drove an e-learning initiative that sought to move one million school children to a safe online learning platform so their educational progress would not be set back due to COVID-19 restrictions, government-ordered lockdown and the closure of educational institutions for the greater part of 2020

 

“Kindness: A Way of Life” was the theme for the fourth edition of the Sustainability Week held in 2021. Highlights of activities of the 2021 Sustainability Week, designed to entrench a culture of kindness, included a practical-oriented training webinar for staff to embed a culture of kindness in the bank by driving understanding of how kindness (or the lack of it) can impact the workplace, the marketplace and the communities in which staff live and work.

 

Another important feature of the Sustainability Week was the “Kind Comments Days” that ran all week to inspire a consciousness of kind choice of words and consideration for others. There was also a dedicated programme in secondary schools designed to institutionalise SPARK by using school SPARK champions (including students and teachers) alongside other partners such as Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) and Lagos State government to inculcate the SPARK values in school children.

 

One other feature was the ground-breaking ceremony for the Lagos State government’s OCAAT (One Community At A Time) initiative to provide the Primary Health Care Centre at Ijedodo community in Alimosho LGA. Set up as an initiative to improve the health and welfare of the members of various communities in Lagos State, FirstBank partnered the government on the project as part of its contribution to global efforts to meet some specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

There were also webinars: a general webinar with the sub-theme: “Education: Does Kindness have a Role?”; and a millennial webinar with the sub-theme: “Making the Cyber World a Kinder Place” which sought to proffer solution to the question of how people could become kinder on social media platforms.

 

All the past editions of FirstBank Sustainability Week highlight the longstanding and relentless commitment of FirstBank not only to continue to live but also to preach the message of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

Given its unmatched pedigree in corporate responsibility and sustainability, FirstBank has earned the right to address all other corporate organisations as well as individuals and groups on matters of sustainability. The bank has earned its right to the people’s audience.

 

It is against this backdrop that FirstBank’s forthcoming 2022 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week should be welcomed by other banks and corporate citizens, irrespective of industry, as an opportunity to come together and take lessons from Nigeria’s foremost corporate citizen with regard to corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

FirstBank does not consider itself too big to take lessons from other corporate citizens in areas where they have distinguished themselves. So other corporate citizens should not feel too big to take lessons from FirstBank in this area where the bank stands highly distinguished.

 

Or can anyone claim not to know that if the concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability were to be represented by one corporate citizen per country on a world map where countries are denoted by their foremost corporate entities, it is unarguable that FirstBank would be the company eminently representing Nigeria on that map?

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Opinion

Kendoo’s Beehive of Partners

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Salako ‘Tobi

The universe has a way of rewarding diligence, faithfulness, hard-work and perseverance. When the universe sees your heart and your genuine intentions, it will provide support and make things work in your favour.

The executive chairman of Oshodi-Isolo local government, Otunba Kehinde Almaroof Oloyede popularly called Kendoo, has reiterated for the umpteenth time his intention to transform Oshodi, his burning desire to provide a conducive working environment where businesses can thrive. He is also determined to focus on human capital development by training and empowering people to be self employed, self reliant and self sufficient. It is obvious there is no more white, blue or even black collar jobs. With the rising unemployment rate within the country, it behoves on the government to train people, empower them and create an environment where their business would thrive.

Otunba Oloyede has kicked off with massive construction of roads to ease movement of goods, services and people within his local government, he has embarked on massive training of residents through his UNDP center, he has provided ambulances and medical tools to the Public Health Centers (PHCs) with a promise to do more, he has provided educational materials to aid smart learning within his local government, he has supports physically challenged persons with employment and financial support, even with all these, he is not resting on his oars.

Seeing his moves, activities and desire, private bodies are now willing to partner with his administration in achieving these goals. It is a known fact that government alone can not solve our problems nor provide all the amenities needed for our daily lives. Private sector is a viable partner in progress that should complement the efforts of the government but they often draw back due to “Nigerianism or Nigerian factors”.

When these private individuals however see transparency, openness, willingness on the part of government and the open-door policy, as exemplified by the executive chairman of Oshodi-Isolo local government, Otunba Kehinde Almaroof Oloyede, they will embrace such government and become partners in progress.

Corporate bodies, NGOs, religious bodies and individuals, knowing Otunba Oloyede and wanting to be involved in taking Oshodi to the next level, have been partnering with him for the betterment of the local government and the residents. Below are some of the organisations that have partnered with the local government either in training of the residents, empowerment or provision of needed items. They include but not limited to the following:

1. Yield Africa Foundation partnered with the local government to train 650 Youths and Vulnerable Women on various skills.

2. Iskh Tolaram Foundation partnered with the local government to train 10 youths in Plumbing & Fittings, Building Construction, Tailoring, Tiling & Mesonry, carpentry & Furniture Making etc.

4. VTET Initiative for Nation Development have also partnered with the local government to train 480 youths and vulnerable Women in various skills like fashion designing, event planning, event Decorations, etc.

5. First Alert Protective Services Limited partnered with the local government to train and empower 30 Youths on Solar Panels & Inverter Installation.

6. Foursquare Gospel Church equally train 450 youths on soft skills needed for survival.

7. Lagos State Ministry of Youths and Social Development in conjunction with Tehmis Point International partnered with the local government to train 450 youths.

8. Orum Trading Exchange, an indigenous organisation, partnered with the local government to renovate a block of 4 classrooms at Oshodi Primary school, Brown street.

8. Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) also partnered the local government in poverty alleviation by empowering residents with empowerment tools.

9. Rotary Club of Ewutuntun, in partnership with the local government, just concluded the training of 1000 youths and women on various skills. They equally empowered some of them.

The list is long but for want of time and space, they all will not be listed. The partnership between these noble organisations and individuals is a testimony to the openness and humble personality of the chairman. With Public Private Partnership (PPP), our people and local government will be better for it.

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Opinion

BAT: THE NEW NIGERIA VISION AND THE GHOST OF JUNE 12

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I have never joined discussions on the older generations handing over to younger generations because the issues are much more than that. Handing over of leadership is not a choice. It’s an established natural law that nothing can change the ageing process. Those nations with enlightened leaders are conscious of the inevitability of death that is why they train younger ones to take over. I am not going to be discussing why a candidate is better than the other. My reasoning is not founded on faults nor fallacies; but on the reality of things that are before us as Nigerians.

Asiwaju made his own mistake in 2011 by delivering the southwest to PDP rather than CPC with whom they could have at least provided alternative governance for Nigerians and naturally he must receive his due chastisement as divine penalty. He actually allowed himself to be ‘used’ by the old Afenifere/NADECO caucus whose agenda since after June 12 is to move the Yorubas out the Nigerian nationhood. The same folks are his greatest enemies today when he chose to correct the mistakes of the Buhari led government. His merger with Buhari was seen as a game taken too far by some silent gladiators but the eventualities of the APC primaries proved a bigger point than many of us could imagine. Asiwaju truly meant the statement, e lo fo kan baale – you guys should go and relax. His emergence has reawakened the hopes of many Nigerians that good times may be imminent.

The achievements of Asiwaju in our national polity are too significant to be made feeble by anybody not to talk of many of the constituents of my generation – The Nigerian Youths. Asiwaju had not only provided the people of southwest with a performance-based leadership template since 1999 but has successfully engaged his own party by compelling it at all times to prove itself to be virile. A closer study of Asiwaju’s politicking towards the Nigeria agenda is the fact that he had successfully been able to involve a lot of people from various ethnic backgrounds in his refining system of governance. The appointment of individuals’ that were not from Lagos State into key positions in the governance of Lagos State is a good pointer. I boldly say that he was that single man that stretched this path of honour just for effective governance. To him, we all must get the job right whether you are Yoruba or Igbo. Asiwaju remains the most detribalized Nigerian politician on Earth – res ipsa loquitur. Asiwaju is a master strategist and a political titan of no mean measure. He is a product of many factors ranging from his political consistency, training and planting of political associates and in particular social capital programmes and philanthropic gestures over the years. It is no longer news that Asiwaju has really paid his due in the political atmosphere of Nigeria; hence there is no dispute as to the everlasting relevance in the political history of this Nigeria from his NADECO days to this present Fourth Republic where he has navigated through various potholes to stage himself. One reason why he can lay credence to being a true-born democrat is his salutary efforts to redefine the concept of party politics in the effervescent terrain called Nigeria. This is no doubt a man with the Nigeria Agenda. In the game of politics, Asiwaju is a master planner, commanding force and arresting personality who has not only raised men and leaders, he is also a great friendship builder and manager. It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.

Asiwaju fought for our democracy from the days he was exiled from Nigeria alongside other pro-democracy activists over the June 12, 1993, presidential election crisis. That election which was annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) was won by Chief MKO Abiola who died fighting to actualise his mandate freely given to him by Nigerians. This is the journey that Asiwaju is leading at the moment. It is safe to conclude that Nigeria might get to see a replica or a better version of June 12 elections. The spirit of are alive and would be set to work again. No doubt the Muslim-muslim Ticket is coming to play again. In 1993, Chief MKO Abiola chose a Kanuri man as his Vice; and 30 years later Asiwaju also picked a Kanuri man has his Vice. This can never be a mere coincidence but a substantive one. A brief into what Senator Kashim Shettima stands for is his action towards the issue of insurgents in Nigeria, more particularly Boko Haram. Contrary to the propaganda that has filled the media space on the fact that he was the cause of the captivity of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram insurgents. It is notable to point out that Senator Kashim Shettima has been coordinating the rehabilitation and resettlement of victims of the Boko Haram insurgents. This is what over 50,000 children are benefitting across the 27 local governments in his State. It just doesn’t measure up saying he made the Chibok girls case happened. We had a federal government that failed woefully in that aspect. A part of the solution that many feared to take is what Shettima has been doing before now.

The June 12 mantra of hope was not based on religion whether was it premised on bias and sentiments. It was founded on the believe that Nigeria must work. It’s just so insensitive that at this critical time of our governance, we are playing the religion cards as a yardstick to good governance. Many have forgotten so quick that Asiwaju being a Muslim sacrificed his Vice President’s slot for a Christian even when it was considered then that a Muslim – muslim ticket was not in a bad place. We also forget so soon that sometimes in 2011, the Action Congress of Nigeria fielded a Muslim-muslim ticket. Nuhu Ribadu and Fola Adeola were both Muslims but I guess hell was not let loosed because many never believed the duo could emerge victorious at the general polls. Is this present outcry indicative that Asiwaju-Shettima is a goal already? If yes, it is a sure bet from antecedent of the duo that they are both leaders who exercises uncommon influence as well as considerable power. As it is, we have the duo that truly understands that challenges that all in Nigeria must face. Beyond flattering, they have proven that they are always set to assist in the setting of goals and priorities, to work with others in finding paths to those goals chosen, maintaining public morale and motivation and nurturing a workable level of public unity. The implication is that both men possess the power or influence of transforming something common into something valuable. To many who do not know, our land that is watered by the Niger and Benue and located between the sandy wastes and Gulf of Guinea, washed by the mighty Atlantic is set to be purified by the renewed June 12 hope again. The way of knowledge is superior to the way of action.

 

 

 

By Amb. Habeeb Whyte Esq.,

[email protected]

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