Wednesday, July 31, 2013

‘Ikpoki's appointment, triumph for MTN's talent development programme’


Leading ICT company in Nigeria, MTN, has said that the appointment of Michael Ikpoki as the first Nigerian CEO of the company demonstrates the strength of MTN's talent development programme.

An experienced lawyer, seasoned business executive and golf enthusiast, Ikpoki was until his recent appointment, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Ghana. He replaces Brett Goschen, who takes on the role of MTN Group Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director on the Group Board.

Akinwale Goodluck, Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria, stated that “Michael Ikpoki’s appointment lends credence to the company’s principle of building local talent and underscores the strength of our leadership development strategy and leadership succession pool.”

According to him, “This is indeed a strong reflection of the MTN talent management creed; Management’s commitment to it and the quality and abundance of talent in MTN Nigeria, having regard to the status of MTN Nigeria as the biggest operating company within the MTN Group.”

Goodluck revealed that the new CEO started his career in telecoms with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). After six years with the NCC, he joined MTN Nigeria as a Regulatory Advisor in 2001, rising steadily through the ranks and receiving the quality of training, capacity building and exposure that are inherent in the company’s employee value proposition.


Michael Ikpoki became General Manager, Regulatory Affairs in 2004. Two years later, in 2006, he was appointed General Manager, Sales and Distribution and in 2007, the Sales and Distribution Executive for MTN Nigeria.  His appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana in April 2011 made him the First Nigerian in the MTN Group to attain this height.


He is however, not the only one.  Indeed, only a few months after Ikpoki was appointed CEO of MTN Ghana, another Nigerian, Karl Toriola, was also appointed CEO of MTN Cameroun.   


Several other Nigerians have since gone on to hold strategic positions across various MTN operations.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Nigeria: Dangerous country to be a mother

A pregnant woman

By John Awe
The Guardian, Thursday 25, July 2013

Bungee jumping is a crazy sport where people jump off cliffs and other lethal heights with ropes tied to their ankles. You would think that is insanely dangerous, right? Newsflash: bungee jumping is several times safer than delivering a baby in Nigeria! It’s not hearsay; it’s statistically established. There is one death for every 500,000 bungee jumps, whereas there is roughly 500 to 800 deaths for every 100,000 live births in Nigeria.

A few more grim facts to pour a bucket of cold water on Nigerian husbands tonight: 11, 600 women lost their lives during childbirth in the first three months of this year according to the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria. Last year the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that maternal mortality had been halved in the last 20 years in most regions of the world, but regretted that sub-Saharan Africa, led by Nigeria continued to lag behind.

In May, the United Kingdom's International Development Minister, Ms. Lynne Featherstone, on a visit to Nigeria announced that Nigeria currently accounts for 10 per cent of the world's maternal mortality. This news would absolutely scandalise us as a nation if we weren’t otherwise so busy seeing to the fertilisation of the surviving child-bearing female adults.

And these dreadful statistics are only from reported cases. How many more women die quietly of pregnancy-related complications in their homes, unregistered maternity centres, some dingy rooms of iya abiyes (local midwives) or even in some of the so called private clinics with poor equipment and poorer personnel all over the country? Many would argue, quite justifiably, that nearly as many as the reported maternal deaths go unreported across Nigeria. To provide some insight, WHO’s records for 2003 suggest that two-thirds of the births in Nigeria in that year occurred at home.

In the face of the horrible statistics, it takes the stoic fatalism of Nigerians to keep the maternities and neonatal clinics bustling with activities every day, all year round. To many, the statistics are distant and even unreal; just cold figures. But like the American journalist and author, Paul Brodeur, once famously remarked, statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off. These numbers actually represent needlessly wasted mothers, daughters, daughters-in-law, aunts and sisters of living people. They represent dashed hopes, destroyed destinies and deeply-seated sorrow and pain in many hearts scattered across the country.

To those whose relatives, neighbours, friends and colleagues have recently swelled these statistics, the import of Brodeur’s remark will ring home more stridently; as those who very nearly become part of the statistics themselves. Belonging to the latter category is one Mrs Cordelia Ifechukwude, whose story was reported in the media a couple of weeks ago. Ifechukwude had a protracted labour in a private hospital in Alakuko, a suburb of Lagos. The baby ultimately went into distress and none of the nurses on duty noticed. It ultimately died and the mother’s womb was infected. The lady was in the throes of death when her husband decided to rush her to Ayinke House, General Hospital, Ikeja, where her life was saved.

Ifechukwude’s case illustrates how very easily an otherwise healthy pregnant woman can lose the battle for life in many of the hospitals in Nigeria today. There is nobody ensuring that anyone who opens a hospital is qualified or equipped to do so. Long term hospital cleaners and auxiliary nurses have been known to open medical practices in Nigeria with no one to challenge them until they commit blue murder, literally. It is only then that there is a circus of government officials, medical authorities and policemen, threatening fire and brimstones on quacks.

Even where a doctor has the competence to open a private practice, shouldn’t there be a body to go round regularly to ensure that they have basic equipment and competent support medical personnel at all times? In Ifechukwude’s case, for instance, the hospital owner was said to be a qualified doctor, who had a regular employment elsewhere in Lagos, with the result that he was hardly available to monitor his patients. In his absence, the nurses held court, and some of them, according to Ifechukwude, were so crude that they believed assisted delivery entailed aggressively pressing the protruding belly of the mother to force the baby out.

Sad still is the fact that when there are cases of blatant medical malpractices against some of these hospitals there are no visible repercussions that others can learn from. Ifechukwude, for instance, alleged that she filed a petition with the medical council to no avail. The hospital was only in the news again after a fresh scandal was blown open by another patient. All these factors make private hospitals in Nigeria a dangerous gamble for women seeking to deliver babies.

The public hospitals are by far safer in Nigeria. For one thing, the chances of being delivered of a baby by an iron bender are quite remote. For another thing, even when you are unlucky to have an inexperienced house officer handling your case, there is always a roaming professor or senior consultant, with a dozen medical students in tow, who comes in at the nick of time to save the day.
Of course the public hospitals have their own problems. They are obviously underfunded, overstretched and over-burdened; probably the same reasons for which they tend to breed a rich specimen of impatient, grouchy, and nasty medical personnel. The nurses particularly treat the patients and their relatives as though they were some of the ailments the hospitals were set up to cure. And by some queer arrangements the nastiest of the nurses get sent to the neonatal wards. It would shock many to know that in this day and age pregnant women admitted for delivery still have to sit on straight-backed chairs overnight in the absence of bed-space in Lagos General Hospitals. They call it ‘sit-out’; their colleagues in other climes would no doubt call it shameful. But many women are opting to endure this and be alive to hold their babies than take a gamble with their lives in the practically unregulated private medical practice space in Nigeria.

How hard can it be for a government to supervise the quality of care being rendered to its citizens? How difficult is it for government to ensure that the public hospitals have the basic amenities to dispense care to the citizens? How difficult is it to set up a few world-class public hospitals that women in sub Saharan Africa can flock to for safe delivery of their babies? Why is it that no state governor has made a priority of having such a hospital till date? The Lagos State Government deserves some commendation for building new General Hospitals, but if pregnant women are still being turned back or having to sit-out for lack of bed space, it is clearly not doing enough.

Anyone who could have done something to prevent Nigeria from getting to this sorry pass has blood on his hands. So do all those who can do something now, but choose not to. It is a crying shame that a matador being ushered into an arena with an incensed 600kg bull stands a far better chance of emerging alive than a pregnant woman being wheeled into the labour room of a hospital in Nigeria.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MTN gets first Nigerian Chief Executive Officer

Michael Ikpoki, CEO, MTN Nigeria
Michael Ikpoki, currently the CEO of MTN Ghana has been named as the new Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria.

Ikpoki replaces Brett Goschen, who took on the role of MTN Group Chief Financial Officer and Executive Financial Director on the Board on Monday.

Ikpoki was appointed CEO of MTN Ghana in April 2011 after successfully running MTN Nigeria’s Sales and Distribution channel as its Executive from 2006.

He joined MTN in 2001 as a Regulatory Advisor after a six-year stint with the Nigerian Communications Commission’s legal division.

A seasoned business executive, Michael is well read, with an academic profile that includes General Management Programme at Harvard Business School; Sales, from INSEAD Business School; Finance and Analytics, from Lagos Business School and LLB from Rivers State University of Science and Technology.

Other appointments announced by MTN Group today includeSerame Taukobong, erstwhile Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of MTN SA, who is the new CEO of MTN Ghana. Brian Gouldie, Chief Customer Sales, Service and Distribution Officer at MTN SA, is the new CMO of MTN SA. Farhad Khan, Executive for the Group Enterprise Business Unit, takes over from Gouldie as Chief Customer Sales, Service and Distribution Officer at MTN SA. Philisiwe Sibiya, Executive in Group Finance, is the new Chief Financial Officer of MTN SA.

“MTN has a strong leadership bench strength. As part of its talent management and leadership development, MTN invests significantly towards building a sustainable supply of quality leaders. We are therefore pleased to make these announcements drawn from our leadership succession pool,” said MTN Group President and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa.

All the appointments are with immediate effect

Nigeria is not this bad (Lol)

Commuters waiting for the tube in Xierqi Station, Beijing. When you see scenes like this you thank God for your life in Nigeria. Population can be a curse o! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Journalists roast in the sun to report new baby

Journalists in front of St. Mary's, London

It an unfair world! These journos have been camping in front of St. Mary’s Hospital, London, awaiting the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first baby, since July 1.

The instruction from their bosses is simple: Don't miss anything relating to this baby under any condition. And so in the rain and sun, these professionals must be here until the baby is born.

But quite frankly, I think these oyinbos overdo things. Shouldn’t there be some teeny-weeny bit of privacy left for the parents-to-be? We know the mother-to-be has been admitted, and is in the first stages of labour. We know they opted for natural birth. We know the ward the mother-to-be is in, the names of her doctors etc?

Shouldn’t there be a limit to the standard of transparency the royal family should be held to? Can this happen in Africa?  Certainly not. Probably we wouldn’t even know the hospital until the baby is born, lest the association of ‘winch’ send delegates to go and join the crowd camping in front of the hospital!

Monday, July 15, 2013

My tweet is harmless, people!

I tweeted about the traffic logjam around the Central Mosque, Alausa on Friday to guide those planning to head in that direction. While the overwhelming majority appreciated the tweet for what it was, and retweeted it severally, a few others took offence and reacted on my TL.

I would like to keep the records straight. It was simply a tweet to guide others, and this is consistent with my long-held practice as I move around Lagos. The practical utility of the social networks, for me derives largely from the useful information, such as this, that users exchange with each other.

I do not qualify to judge anyone. As someone once said, if you were not nailed on the cross for their sake, you are probably not the right person to judge them!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Al Mustapha’s murder acquittal

Abdul, Kudirat, Al Mustapha

The statement by a son of the slain Kudirat Abiola, Abdul Abiola, referring to the judgement of the Appeal Court discharging Al Mustapha and co as a stab in his heart is one many who followed the case can relate to. I feel a sense of personal loss. If these gentlemen had nothing to do with the murder, who did?

I recall covering this case as a judicial reporter. I was in the court room when the earliest testimonies were given in court.

But it was clear from those early days of the trial that the prosecution was up against an unusual set of accused persons. They were determined to use all they had to beat the rap against them.

To begin with, as much as the prosecution tried, they simply could not get the case to proceed expeditiously. The defence inundated the court with preliminary objections. The competence of the charge was contested. Jurisdiction of the court was contested. Every ruling of the court was contested. There were frequent trips to the Court of Appeal to determine each of these challenges, while the case would be halted at the trial court in the interim. Then there were numerous adjournments.

When they could not have their way, they asked a judge to excuse himself from the trial because they lacked faith in him to be fair.

They came up against a tough judge in one Justice Alabi of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere then. He was determined to make progress in the case, and he did. It was in his court that Sgt Rogers gave the earliest testimony of the trial, detailing how he came to pull the trigger.

At some point, the defence asked Justice Alabi to excuse himself from the trial. Desperate to kick him out of the trial, Al Mustapha openly insulted the judge during one of the sittings. It was unprecedented. Many people in the court-room thought the heavens would fall.  The judge kept his cool. In the end, the accused got what they wanted. The judge excused himself from the case.

The problem with a delayed trial is that a series of things happen that may take the trial in a different direction than it would have normally have gone. The public baying for blood forgets. The aggrieved have adequate passage of time to move on with their lives. Even the witnesses begin to struggle with the exact order of occurrences and some minute details. They easily get confused under intense cross-examination, making nonsense of their credibility.

Whatever the case, it no longer matters. The accused are free. Only the Supreme Court can rule otherwise, if there is any fight left in the prosecution after this long exhaustive battle. But there is yet a judge who saw what happened and requires no witnesses to tell him how it happened. He will deliver his own judgement at his own time.