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Analysts hopeful of changes in MTN board

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Dr. Ernest Ndukwe

•Say it heralds good tidings for telco transformation
Industry experts have said the overhaul of the Board of Directors of MTN Nigeria Plc, following other key management level appointments will enhance the fortunes of the telecoms operator, while also boosting the sector’s transformation.

Their optimism follows Wednesday night announcement by MTN of the retirement of current board members after 18 years, and the reappointment of new ones to be led by a former Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

Ndukwe takes over the reins from Pascal Dozie, who was retired along five other non-executive directors, as contained in a note to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), which informed the investing public and other stakeholders of the board changes following the expiration of their tenure, and in compliance with applicable codes of Corporate Governance. The retirement takes effect from September 2, 2019.

Also joining Ndukwe, is the pioneer Minister of Communications and Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, as a non-executive director and 12 others.

Speaking on the development, the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub (DSiHub), Chris Uwaje, said the new board will improve the fortunes of the company, and the industry will benefit immensely from their vast experience.

Uwaje opined that Ndukwe remains, perhaps, the best Minister of Communications Nigeria never had but must have, seeing as he had performed beyond all imaginable expectations as very distinguished telecom professional globally and locally.

“I am shocked that his name was alarmingly missing on the list of Ministers. MTN and by extension, South Africa, has become the beneficiary of his monumental experience and goodwill. Dr. Omobola Johnson will surely deliver her mandate on the very best of her ability,” he said.
Another telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, commended the South African firm for ‘bringing in new brains and smarter people’ to further drive the growth of the Nigerian arm.

According to him, the task before them is to impact the firm and the sector hugely. “We know the antecedents of Ndukwe, Johnson and Alli. I believe they will do well respectively.”

According to MTN, those, who will be retiring with Dozie in September, are Col. Sani Bello (rtd) vice-chairman; Chief Victor Odili, non-executive director; Mallam Ahmed Dasuki, non-executive director;  Babatunde Folawiyo, non-executive director; and Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, non-executive director.

The telco expressed appreciation to the six directors for their commitment, leadership, and extensive contributions to the success of the firm since their appointment in 2001.

Those that will be coming on board are MTN Chief Executive Officer, Ferdinand Moolman; as well as three independent non-executive directors including Michael Onochie Ajukwu; Muhammad K. Ahmad; and Rhidwaan Gasant.

Others joining Johnson as non-executive directors are Andrew Alli; A.B. Mahmoud; Ralph Mupita; Paul Norman; Mrs. Ifueko Okauru; Jens Schulte-Bockum; Group CEO, Rob Shuter; and Karl Toriola, according to a statement by MTN’s Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah.

From his perspective, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusegun Teniola, said MTN’s move follows a series of other new appointments to bring in new blood to its board and management, to overcome some regulatory, tax, and evolving environment; which promotes a digital mindset that is pervasive amongst the OTT players.

Acknowledging the vital contributions made by the outgoing directors over the last 18 years, MTN Nigeria CEO, Moolman, said: “On behalf of MTN Nigeria, I would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to our pioneering Chairman, Pascal Dozie, and the outgoing directors. Our journey over the last 18 years has been incredible, and it would not have been possible without the initial entrepreneurial spirit of our founding directors, and their unfailing and dedicated support for MTN Nigeria’s vision over the years. I could not have asked for a more supportive, knowledgeable and experienced group of advisors.”

Speaking on behalf of the outgoing directors, Dozie said: “In 2001, when I made the first call on the MTN Nigeria network, I don’t think anyone envisaged the pace and scale of growth that we and the broader telecoms sector would achieve over the next 18 years. It is a unique story that we are immensely proud of.

“Having served as Chairman of MTN Nigeria for all of those 18 years, I achieved a long-held ambition earlier this year, when MTN Nigeria listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, providing an opportunity for a wider pool of Nigerians to become investors in the company. I cannot think of a better time to be handing over the reins of the company to a new Chairman, and to a new group of distinguished Nigerian directors. Not only is this in line with best practice, which we are fully committed to as a member of the premium board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, it is also absolutely aligned to the company’s future.”


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