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The Guardian publisher, Adeyinka, want business owners to embrace corporate governance

By Jesutomi Akomolafe
01 September 2021   |   4:05 am
Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, and other stakeholders have urged small and large business owners to pursue best practices to enhance business sustainability.

Publisher, The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru (left); former Deputy Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. Sunday Owolabi; Managing Director/Chief Executive, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Mrs. Oluyemisi Edun; founder, H. Michael and Co, Dr. Adeyinka Hassan; his wife, Temitope and Chairman, Polaris Bank Limited, Muhammad Ahmad during the maiden edition of the corporate governance and enterprise development conference organised by H. Michael and Co in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• Investigative stories not enough to sustain media company, says Maiden Ibru

Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, and other stakeholders have urged small and large business owners to pursue best practices to enhance business sustainability.

This was disclosed at the maiden edition of the Corporate Governance and Enterprise Development Conference organised by Founder of H. Michael & Co, Dr. Adeyinka Hassan.

The forum was themed: ‘Corporate Governance Best Practices: Imperatives for Business Sustainability’. The stakeholders stressed that organisations must look beyond profitability, work towards universal wealth creation and maximise performance that could impact the nation.

Guests at the event include Chairman, Polaris Bank Limited, Mr. Muhammad Ahmad; MD/CEO, First Monument Bank Ltd., Mrs. Oluyemisi Edun; Former Deputy Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. Sunday Owolabi; Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Pension Custodian Limited, Mr. Victor Osadolor.

Others are: President and Chairman of Council, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN), Mr. Taiwo Owokalade and Chairman of Council, Institute of Directors (IOD), Mrs. Ije Jidenma (represented by first Vice President, IOD, Mr. Tijjani Borodo).

Hassan noted that more than 100 companies in Nigeria have fizzled out due to corporate failures. According to him, “there are companies we knew when we were growing up that are no more. We heard of Leventis in those days, Kingsway, Bata. Where are they now? They are all gone, due to lack of a well-structured board and lack of good corporate governance.”

He added: “No matter how small a business is or how fast a business is growing, there are certain things that should be done to sustain a business beyond the life of the owner. And that is where corporate governance comes. We need to preach it to everyone.”

Lady Alex-Ibru, a discussant at the conference, noted that sustainability of The Guardian for decades has been the result of compliance with the code of corporate governance.

She said: “Mine is a family business and we have been in business for 38 years. My husband decided that the company would be a way of giving back to society. So, at The Guardian, we have done up to 90 per cent, if not 100 per cent of corporate governance.

“The media is a different type of business. We are not selling clothes; we are selling ideas on how the government should run to ensure that there is no poverty in the land.

“It is going to be 10 years since my husband passed away. In 1999 when I took over The Guardian, I inherited 1,180 staff. Who runs a company with a thousand staff when we are not a bank? But I tried to reduce the staff strength to about 450. Now, we are moving beyond the newspaper, while sticking to the rules of corporate governance, to enhance our success.”

She noted that well investigated stories in an exclusively designed newspaper is not enough to sustain a media company, as the cost of production has become unbearable.

“We have not bought newsprint in Nigeria for 38 years. There is a company in Sweden that supplies us newsprint. If you want to publish a newspaper, you do not use cheap papers. We are a newspaper. Hopefully, that will continue for life, whether I am alive or not. We also have Guardian Tv and Guardian Music. There is also a Guardian film called Eyimofe, which over 40 countries have acknowledged,” she said.

Speaking on improving the lifespan of business operations, Prof. Owolabi said: “Better strategic planning and talent attraction is key to business growth. There is no way you will operate a good corporate governance system and you will not really see quality people to work with you.”

The ICSAN President, who was represented by Abiola Laseinde, CEO, Edniesal Consulting, noted: “We want to get into business and start making money. How can a sustainable business plan ever be sustainable in a quick return capital-driven economy? Do we need to continue to reward those who design and manufacture products that only serve the purpose of making money at any cost?”