Good corporate governance basic for survival of indigenous firms — Dangote GMD

Posted by News Express | 28 September 2019 | 535 times

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Good corporate governance and proper succession planning has been identified as key drivers to the survival of indigenous firms and building trust in corporate Nigeria.

The Group Managing Director of Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Olakunle Alake,  made this assertion while delivering a paper titled “Corporate Governance and Succession Planning” at the 35th Omolayole Management Lecture Series, organised by AIESEC Alumni Association in Lagos

He also said that the absence of sound Corporate Governance structures and good succession planning is the reason indigenous companies hardly outlive their founders.

Alake said many great indigenous businesses collapsed partly because of effective corporate governance structures and succession processes were not put in place to ensure that these businesses were sustained.

According to him, “for businesses with poor corporate governance structures, the founder was often the chairman and the chief executive and made all decisions. They believe in owning all without a thought for tomorrow. He alone had the vision, energy, strategy and ran the business. When the man died, the business died.”

However, the Dangote Group helmsman pointed out that with a good board, sound Corporate Governance structures, and proper succession planning, the founder can retire without looking back and the company will continue to thrive because there would be transferred vision and goals. “There would be effective Corporate Governance and shared operational sustainability. These are fundamental reasons why a business must have a proper and effective board.”

Alake recalled that in the period of the early 70s and late 90s, several Nigerians held sway at the top of many blue chips and they adopted sound corporate governance practices and implemented credible succession plans, which was why many of them still exist to date.

Drawing inference, Alake cited Dr. Omolayole and Mr. Felix Ohiwere among others who oversaw board with sound corporate governance saying “Dr. Michael Olawole Omolayole joined Lever Brothers Nigeria Limited (now Unilever Nig. Plc) as a Training Manager. Dr. Omolayole proved his outstanding qualities and within seven years, he rose to the post of a Personnel Director in Unilever. He became Vice-Chairman of the Company in 1971, a post he held until 1975 when he was appointed the first Nigerian Chairman and Managing Director.

“As Chairman/Managing Director of Unilever plc, he initiated a succession system that groomed and trained Nigerians for top positions. He was a stickler for sound and strong Corporate Governance, which to him is of more importance than immediate gratification. Today, he is rewarded for his tenacity with the longest annual running lecture series in management being held in his honour.

“Mr. Felix Ohiwerei stands out as a promoter of Corporate Governance. He was appointed to the Board of Nigerian Breweries Plc in 1977 as Marketing Director. Mr. Ohiwerei was appointed Deputy Chairman/Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc in 1987, became Chairman/Managing Director in June 1989 and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the company in 1997. He retired from the service of Nigerian Breweries in June 1999, was appointed Non-Executive Chairman of the company in July 1999 before retiring from the Board in December 2007.”

Giving an instance of Dangote group as a multi-national with corporate governance and succession plan in place, the Group Managing Director said a lot of people assumed and wrongly so that the Dangote Group business is a family business and therefore operates completely as such.

Contrary to such view, however, Alake explained that Dangote the group is a well- structured business with a lot of professionals responsible and accountable for key aspects of the business and who have no family relationship with the founder.

Earlier speaking,  President and Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Management( Chartered) (NIM), Prof. Olukunle Iyanda noted that Good corporate governance is extremely necessary for building trust in corporate Nigeria

He said that currently, Nigeria is facing a trust deficit that is cutting across both public and private sectors — This trust deficit is due to the abuse of trust and has to be rectified through good corporate governance.

He affirmed that good corporate governance practices are fundamental to a company’s success, enabling access to capital, mitigation of risks and safeguard against mismanagement.

He also noted that succession planning is key to organizational growth and sustainability, stressing that poor succession plan has led to the death of many companies. Especially, Many pioneer indigenous commercial and industrial establishment in Nigeria in the 1960s and 70s died with their founders.

In her welcome address, the President of AIESEC Alumni Association, Brenda Nwagwu noted that the lecture series has served as a veritable source of quality management education and insight for Nigerian professional managers.

She affirmed that Dr. Michael Omolayole is an epitome of integrity, professionalism who has played a significant leadership role over the years in the industry.

She, therefore, called on all Nigerian corporate managers to emulate his virtues and corporate governance principles, while lauding Dangote group for their strategic corporate governance and succession plans

Earlier, both Dr. Michael Omolayole, in whose honour the lecture was instituted, and Sir. Remi Omotosho, Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank in Nigeria, adduced reason why multinationals of the ’70s survived even with Nigerians at the helms of affairs.

They also spoke on the choice of Alake as the lecturer on the occasion because he is shouldering the responsibility of directing one the larges pan-Africa conglomerates with diverse interests in many sectors.

•PHOTO: L-R; President of AIESEC Alumni Association, Brenda Nwagwu: Mr. Olakunle Alake, Group Managing Director, Dangote Industries Limited: Prof Olukunle Iyanda, President of Nigerian Institute of Management and Dr. Michael Omolayole, first Nigerian Chairman/Managing Director of Lever Brothers Nigeria Plc (now Unilever Nigeria Plc) in Lagos

Source: News Express

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