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Betwixt Baba-Yahaya, Dangogo and Akoshile

By Guardian Nigeria
09 November 2021   |   3:55 am
The launch of ClimateAfrica magazine holds today (November 9, 2021) at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja from 10.00am. The launch is part of the events marking the first anniversary of NatureNews (www.naturenews.africa) the online newspaper, which focuses on environment, climate change and SDG. The event will also feature the presentation of the Hero of Environment Actions for Development (HEAD) award, which…

The launch of ClimateAfrica magazine holds today (November 9, 2021) at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja from 10.00am. The launch is part of the events marking the first anniversary of NatureNews (www.naturenews.africa) the online newspaper, which focuses on environment, climate change and SDG. The event will also feature the presentation of the Hero of Environment Actions for Development (HEAD) award, which recognises spectacular innovations and creative solutions for environmental sustainability. In this article, KABIR DANGOGO underscores the resilience, diligence and strong attachment to professionalism by the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NatureNews, Mr. Aliu Akoshile, noting that those values will foster rapid growth of NatureNews.

Muhammed Imam Yahaya was the managing director/chief executive of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc when the bank employed yours sincerely as its corporate affairs manager in 1995. Since then we built a bond of relationship. I learnt a lot of corporate politics and enjoyed working with Baba-Yahaya as chief executive. Unknown to him then, we called him Baba throughout the period as he symbolised a fatherly role to all the staff who worked closely with him.

He later informed me that though I was highly recommended for the job, he exercised great deal of caution in my recruitment as it took more than a year to finalise after a formal panel interview. Yahaya resented sycophancy and respected professionalism in every material particular. He was very formal, meticulous and cared about his reputation. In those four years I only visited him at home twice. Both of these visits were at his instance. I cherished that because, for a change, my boss would not expect me to be around him always.
As the chief executive of Union Bank, Yahaya mostly operated by appointments. Whenever he gave you an appointment to see him, he would see you within five minutes. I discovered that most of the staff members of the bank liked it that way because it facilitated their work and built a bond of relationship with the chief executive.

My best moment with Baba-Yahaya was when the bank dangled the carrot to staff to accept to retire voluntarily. In all, 2000 staff took the voluntary retirement option. I persuaded him to host business correspondents to a luncheon and break the news. He reluctantly agreed. By and large, we had great outing as the news media reported the retirement professionally and presented the bank as ‘retiring staff with a human face’. That became the envy of other bank chief executives who later copied the idea.

Sometime in 1996, a couple of years after I assumed the corporate affairs job at Union Bank, Aliu Akoshile, then a reporter with Daily Trust newspaper stopped by my office at 40 Marina Lagos in search of a story. I was meeting Akoshile for the first time and after the usual exchange of courtesies, questions and answers, he left with me a copy of his CV to remember him whenever a job opened. As part of the corporate affairs job, I kept a file of contacts to help reporters get fixed in the corporate affairs departments of other banks.

The need to hire a corporate affairs officer opened several years later but not at Union Bank. Baba-Yahaya had retired from Union Bank and bought into NUB Bank as a major shareholder in Kaduna. After intervening a couple of times between NUB and business correspondents, Baba-Yahaya who was then the chief executive of the bank called one sunny afternoon in Lagos and requested me to recommend someone for recruitment as the corporate affairs manager of NUB.

As president of the Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) at that time, many bank chief executives had called me to recommend someone to be their corporate affairs manager. So at this juncture I remembered Akoshile and two other reporters who left their CVs with me. Akoshile later got a call from NUB for an interview. He was surprised at the development as he had long forgotten that he gave me his CV.

He eventually got the job and he did excellently well. He held on to the job until bank consolidation came and he became a banker in the same head office branch of NUB. Eventually, Akoshile went back to Daily Trust. After many years, he retired from the newspaper from there he became the chief executive of Daily Times of Nigeria.

Akoshile opened a new chapter by establishing Almak Media publishers of NatureNews, an online newspaper exclusively reporting the environment. This is unprecedented, as the three of us built a bond of relationship spanning close to 30 years and to date it has continued to wax stronger.

Dangogo is the Executive Director, Timex School of Communication Kaduna