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1HE GUARDIAN; Sunda~~y 8,:!.On

BUsiNEss 113'

By Geoff iyalse

1 A 7HEN captains of industries converged YY at this year's TalldngBusiness, a summit organised by Tom Associates in Lagos last week, a worrisome issue that featured prominently was th e die-with-foundertraoition that is prevalent in the country's business community. The corporate leaders, drawn from different sectors of the economy, took turns to analyse how cling-on attitude of owners and undue·interference in management decisions stunt the growth of Nigerian companies. Except the two key speakers a nd a few others, every participant recalled how board involvement in the day-to-day running of COmpanies fru strated efforts to discharge responsibilities in the best interest of the establish ment. Managing Director, Xerox HS Limited, Femi OKunade, detailed how was able to move Xerox from total collapse to a profitable and leading brand everybody wants to do business With, starting from 2006 when he assu med its management. Okunade left the company for Tantalizers in 2003 when it became obvious that the corporation was to collapse; when incentives a nd staff m orale was at zero level. But he was recalled three year later as managing director to salvage the company. According to him, the situation was so terrible that the white man he succeeded could not wait for his resumption date before he called it off. Hence, he resumed duty a week ahead the agreed date; with friends and relations wondering why he accep ted to manage a literally d ead company. . Before resumption, according to him, h e gave a cond ition d,at he would not enter· tain a ny excesses from the board. This, he said, was gra nted with the board members allowing him absolute control over hiring , firing, promotion , incenti ves/ rewards, finance and other operational m atters. Less than a year Okunade took over the manageme nt o f Xerox, the hitherto failing company wi th zero credit rating made remarkable progress, in terms of staff motivation, turnover, profit and faCility managemen t. He encapsulated his wining principle in his ability to exercise independent control in the running of the company witho ut any fear that somebody could raise an eyebrow. This, he sa id, also helped him to take decisive and timely decisions without unnecessary consulta· t ion with board m embers. With m ere N60 million fresh capital injection since 2006, the managem ent has paid its inherited N350 million non-per· forming loans, re-Iaunched suspended products, replaced obsolete assets, opened new five offices and received ISO recertificatio n. The Xerox boss pegged the turn-around strategy tha t changed the fate of the company on precise objectives, clea r understahc;I ing about the business model, creating n·ew culture of ha rd work reward and recognition in an open/honest manner and creating ethical work culture from leadership. _Others, he said , are going to battlefront with ~aff, leading by example, taking decisive decisions even when it

Managing Director, Xerox H.S limited/Guest Speaker, Mr, Femi Okunade, Managing Director, Mouka Foam! Mrs. Peju Adebajo and Chairman, Tom Associates. Dr. Wingfe ES5umai, during the busi-

ness summit held al Tom Associates' Corporate Office al Anthony Village, lagos ... lasl week.

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pendent manage ment if the rig ht cotporate governance is put in place. She said companies a re better placed to out-live their fou nders if the companies are institutionalised with board responsibilities clearly separated from that of the management..

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ensures there is always somebody with adequate competences to take over every m anagement . position when the occupant qUits. AdebaJo sa id she grooms somebody sn e could hand over to right from the day she assumes a position. There was a consensus that over-beari ng boards are created by managers who tolerate any antics pJayed by employers because of fear of los• • • ing their jobs if they protest. Speake rs tasked employees to be courageous enough to quit their jobs when owners becomes clog to the smooth . hurts and creating an atmosphere for unbroAde bajo, a Harvard alumnus a nd forrunning of the companies they are entrusted. ke n/timely communication. mer Chief Executive Officer of UTC Though she admitted that she enjoys enormous With the posting of the best first quarter Nigeria Pic, said unlike what obtai ns in support from the union members of her comparesult in 37 yea rs, the man at the helm of some other fi rms with similar history ny, Managing Director of Tranex, a logistics comXerox, said the firm is poised to repose its she had enjoyed an unfette red control marke t leade rship and give impressive since she ass umed her current pOSition. pany, Chidinma Iheme, dema nded to know the a~propriate strategies on question managers of returns to its shareholders on consistent basis She observed that most business in coming years. found e rs would leave their businesses to highly unionised industry could adopt to get The experience of d,e second spea ker, Mrs. strangers to manage without some level desirable internal cohesion. Okunade observed that union members are Peju Adebajo, managing director o f Mouka of control because of the high level of Nigeria Limited, was also a case study of how mistrust in the cotporate world. "It is dif- supportive when management g ives answers before questions are raised. He ca nvassed openunguided managers cou ld turn around the ficult to let go when the owners manage communication, saying the strongest union fortunes of cotporate entities they manage. the company for a long time. The atticould be rendered inactive if management Adebajo's responsibilities are coded in transtude is that we know far more than he addresses welfare issues as at when due instead forming the Lebanese family business into a does in the line," she added. m ore liberal privately-driven equity company. According to her, it is easy to have inde- o f waiting for employees to go aggressive before attending to them. .

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Netherlands Collaborates With Rivers GovtIo BoostAgriculture From Kolvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt 71iE Netherlands has donated Two Million Euros to support dle .1 Rivers StateUniversity of Science and Technology(RSUST) in the area of Agrtcultural Research. . The country's Ambassador to Nigeria, Bert Ronhaar, who disclosed this to journalists in Port Harcourt, said the fund would used mainly to support cassava production, as well as fi sheries and other Agricultural endeavour that would boost food security in Rivers State. Ronhaar was on a visit to the Vice ChancellorofRSUST, Prof. Barineme Fakae, in Port Harcourt, wl)ere h e explained that the 2million Euros was part of his government's commitment to finan ce a Memoranoum ofUnderstanding(MoU) signed between the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) and the unive_fsity recently. As part of the MoU, the RSSDA, in collaboration with the RSUST, are to establish six new SOO-hectare farm - each spread across the State - as part of the State government Songhai Rivers initiative to boost food security and create employment opportunity for indigenes of d,e State and mitigate poverty by promoting food security. .

we can increase the cooperation in the field of research and education, because agriculture is a major sector for the Rivers State government and also for the Dutch government in its policy for the development cooperation and investment promotion to sup. port food self sufficiency," he said. The Netherlands government, according to him, is working assiduously on improving cassava production in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and other parts of su\}.Sahara Africa where the soil condition are deem ed favourable.

He noted that The Netherlands recognises that for Agriculture to be take') seriously in Su\}.Sahara Africa, there must be a way to motivate the younger generation in the continent to urgendy appreciate the advantage of working in i\l(ricultural sector. Tile RSUSTVice Chancellor, Prof. Barineme Fakae, who lauded the benevolent intervention ofThe Netherlands, said the university authority is vigorously trying to stimulate the interest of students in Agriculture and food producnon.

Etlsalat CSR CentreFaCilltafes-Wod<shop ForNGOS -

' 'Tl>positively impact the society and .1 drive the agenda forCSRawareness and sound practice, EtisaJat Nigeria, in partnership with the Lagos Business School (LIiS), recendyorganlsed a twoday workshop for Non-{;overnmental Organizations (NGOs) in Lagos. . The workshop exposed participants to viable means of tapping . . Inro opportunities for collaborations betw een NGOs and the private sector. It also The a~eement would also result in the establishment of sought to equip . . RSSDA s integrated model regional farnlS at Onne. This implies them with the necessary tools to access that d,e agency would be taldng over t)1e.Rivers Institute for more partnership opportunities Agricu lture Research and Training centre. -with stakeholders and d,e society. Ronhaar said the 2million Euros was part of the contribution of In iliecourse of the workshop, It was noted that the major challenges conthe Dutch government to the overall investment, valued at 7.8 fronting NGOs' management were poor ....million Euros. "management strucrure and expertise, . The Ambassador also revealed that a renowned university in Netherlands is presendy discussing with the Rivers State govem- I absence of sustainabUlty plan and prQ\). ment through the RSSDA, primarily to increase level of coopera- . lems of credibility. : Other isS!'es incfude absence of e.nabling tion in research and education with RSUST. "I have been discussing with a university in Netherland, where L

enviionment and lack of funds or grarits. absence of a regulatory body and capacity -building issues, among odJers. The forum encouraged NGOs to conStandythink of innovative ideas with regards to sending proposals, formulating detailed policy documents, developing a sustainability strategy, employing experts, as well as being persjstentwith tegards to sourcing fOf funds-and being social entrepreneurS through self-sustenance Income generation. Execu~ve Dii·~~tor, Development Alternatives and Resource. Centre (DAJ!.G)and facilitator tif the lecture on NGO Fundi-aising, Ngozi Ezb:\ sbi, emphasised funding as .a very crucial subject for ~GOs. According to her, 'NGOsseeking funds or grants must be properly organised You must have a purpose, a clearly defined goal in

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terms of the amount ·of money needed and a fund raising committee comprising people, who. are good at sourcing for ' funds, and identitying those who will donate." Etisalat's Chief Executive Officer, Steven Evans, expiaincif that the workshop was a demonstration of his firm's commitment to. worthy courses channeled towards empowering people'through managementskin-acquisition. "This czapacitybuildingworkshop is one in a series of.workshops, which the Etisalat CSRceIitre will hold this year.111e Etisalat CSRtentre, indeed, held a seminar and a coriference - CEO forum on cOtporate sodal responsibility last October. rhe . Centre has also successfully integrated mandatoryCSRmodules into'the MBA programme at the Lagos Business School. 102 MBA students are currendy belng taught CSRatLagos Business School.:

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THE GUARDIAN, 08 MAY, 2011  

Netherlands Collaborates With Rivers Govt. to Boost Agriculture