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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ATCON: How Omo-Ettu emerged president


The Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) recently held its Annual General Meeting cum election in Lagos. REMMY NWEKE who was there reports on how the winners emerged.

A few weeks ago, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) held its Annual General Meeting and National Executive Council (NEC) election for 2010.

Announcing the readiness, the Executive Secretary, Mr. Ajibola Olude, said that they looked forward to welcoming both old and new members among others, stressing that the chairman of the electoral committee would be appointed on that day, maintaining that ATCON strongly believes that for Nigerian telecommunications market to remain vibrant and relevant.

The association, he said, plans to keep on advocating for some fundamentals like good quality service and zero tolerance on multiple taxation to name a few. Hence the election of the national executive council has become imperative to underscore ATCON’s needs for credible, pro-active, intelligent and good resources managers to steer its leadership in the next two years to the next level.

“We look forward to welcoming both old and new members, media partners and other colleagues to this interactive and exciting association’s event. As an added measure to see that you get notified on time so you can adjust your schedules accordingly, we have attached a soft copy of the invitation which you can take as a firm invitation to attend the event,” he said.

As proposed, on April 30 at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi-Lagos, members of ATCON and interested stakeholders took over the second floor of the restaurant with the welcome address read by the immediate past president, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

Ekuwem’s stewardship at AGM:
According to him, high point of the AGM was the election of new officers into the ATCON’s NEC, as well as rendering of his report of stewardship, after completion of his second term in office as National President of ATCON on Friday, April 30, 2010, recalling that he was first voted into office on April 21, 2006 and re-elected in April 2008.

Though the constitution of ATCON allows for a maximum of three terms of two years each, Ekuwem had long indicated that he would not go for a third term, based on the reasons he proffered including that other professionals in the industry have one idea or the other to offer towards the growth of the ATCON in addition to the development of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector in the country, and so, others should be given an opportunities to contribute their quota equally.

It was also on record that ATCON presided over by Ekuwem performed upto expectation, mostly initiating some good works and activities that in deed enhanced the accelerated expansion of the ICT frontiers in Nigeria, since April 2006 and 2010, hosted about seven industry-based roundtables including Telecom Investment & Finance Forum, Telecom Franchise & Virtual Operations, Stakeholders’ Summit on Energy & Power Crisis, Nigerian Content Development Summit, ComBIT African Expo, Nigerian ICT Education Summit among others.

He also highlighted that the Telecom Investment & Finance Forum, it was designed to address the challenges of the absence of long term funding from banks and non-banks financial institutions for telecom projects in Nigeria.

Held in 2006, he said that Telecom Investment & Finance Forum, encouraged the recapitalized banks in Nigeria to consider lending to the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector, as ATCON also secured the participation of regional and international finance and funding institutions as well as solicited their assistance in facilitation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Nigeria ICT sector.

On the Telecom Franchise & Virtual Operations, which held in 2007, he said, was to stimulate further expansion of ICT service to underserved and unserved areas in the country.

This forum, according to him, discussed opportunities in telecom franchising and virtual operations, stressing that also looked at the policy and regulatory framework that would create an enabling environment for small and medium scale investors to participate gainfully in the provisioning of ICT services especially in rural Nigeria where big operators do not consider economically viable to invest in.

Participants, he noted, called on the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to empower local entrepreneurs who show interest in taking up franchise of big operators to remote Nigeria so that the rural population would also benefit from the boom in Nigeria’s ICT market.

Stakeholders’ Summit on Energy & Power Crisis, Ekuwem pointed out, addressed the failure of Nigeria’s energy and power sector to provide energy and power on a constant basis to support industrial and other economic activities in Nigeria.
ATCON, he said, considered it a national shame that industries were folding up in Nigeria due to the failure of the energy and power sector to live up to its billings.

Above all, participants lamented that ICT operators have had to provide services at great costs as they also had to generate power when they should have been concentrating efforts at improving service quality, even as experts suggested investments in alternative power sources, including biofuels, as a way out of the challenging situation.

ATCON, he noted, raised alarm over hawking of SIM Pack in the country and called for accreditation and registration, recalling he urged for SIM packs accreditation and registration at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ATCON held in April 2008.

Additionally, he took the gospel of SIM pack accreditation and registration to every ICT forum he attended in Nigeria, until the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) bought into the vision as well as national security agencies.

The NCC, in its usual proactive and professional manner, took the idea seriously and set up an industry working group, which eventually led to the implementation of the SIM registration exercise slated for March, 2010. There is no doubt that the system will help in checking security risks posed by anonymous callers who issue threats to innocent and unsuspecting persons in our society.

How they new exco emerged:

After his address, the Electoral Committee was set up with Dr. Godwin Bakare of Godwin Engineers as chairman and includes Mr. Godwin Morgan formerly an executive secretary, ATCON, publisher, e-Businesslife magazine, Mrs. Ufuoma Daro and Chief Commercial Officer, IHS, Mr. Gbenga Onakomaiya.

At the end of the election keenly contested, the managing partner of Telecom Answers Associates (TAA), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, emerged the president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) with a total of 23 votes against his opponent and former Vice President, ATCON and chief executive, DisCom Limited, Mr. Bayo Banjo, who scored 17 votes.

Speaking after the election, the chairman of the committee, Dr. Godwin Bakare tasked the new officers to ensure they deliver to the organisation and fill the remaining vacant offices.

Omo-Ettu took over from Dr. Ekuwem, who is the Executive Vice Chairman, Teledom International Group and was in the office for two terms of two years each.

Also, the former second vice president and chief executive of Voicewaves Networks Limited, Mr. Gerry Ekesiani was elevated into the office of the first vice president with a total of 22 votes against his counterpart from Kinten Telecom Limited, Mr. Olusola Teniola. Others who scaled through the election were Barrister Adewale Jones as second vice president, David Roberts, national secretary, Ms Maureen Egbuna, publicity secretary, Mr. Myke Ofili, treasurer, while Messrs Tony Nwosu was returned as the Co-coordinator, Auxiliary Service Providers, even as Mac Danielles Ighedosa of Diyeem Global Concept and Akinlabi Akinbo from AAA Infotek were retained as Coordinator of Enhanced Services and Consulting Group in that order.

Presently, Omo-Ettu is the National Vice president, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), since last year and has over three decades of active participation in the Nigerian telecommunications industry growth after retiring from the services of Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) in 1991 and presently consulting and training younger engineers with focus on developmental processes.

Equally, his Lagos-based Cyberschuul specialises on telecommunications training, and is a fellow of several professional organisation including the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Telecom Executive Management Institute, Canada; memberships of Association of Consulting Engineers, Nigeria; and Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) among others.

In his acceptance speech, Omo-Ettu on behalf of other newly elected executive, said that his game plan would be anchored on communications with members, consumers on behalf of ATCON members, with the regulator and the government.

Additionally, he said that members should be ready to support the initiative for a powerful database of who they are, where they are and what they do, just as care for their fair market performance would form part of his cardinal points to ensure membership availability and contribution to the association always.

His plan would be a proactive communications strategic to make certain that both the government and regulator are kept on their toes, assuring that he would run an open door policy that is democratic in nature backed up with an updated, proficient secretariat with continuously trained personnel.

For him, it is only those who pay peer nuts that get monkeys as personnel, hence his administration tends to reward excellence and motivate staff as well the executive members, expressing the believe that exco members would be entrenched in the leadership that they can adequately speak on behalf of the organization.

As said by him, succession plan must start as soon as his administration settles down, because time is of the essence and plan must be advanced for implement of projects to make money for ATCON through provision of services to members and make them pay for such services.

ATCON goes into inclusive talk:
The umbrella body of the telecommunications firms in the country under the aegis of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has embarked on an inclusive talk process according to the newly elected national president, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu.

A letter from ATCON’s presidency, soon after, expressed the gratitude of the new executive council committee of ATCON and said that they the process has become necessary following the end of the inaugural meeting of the12-man Executive Committee member, where it was decided that ATCON should advance its immediate plans and focus.

“We will embark on an inclusive talk-process with our members, the regulator, governments, consumers, and other stakeholders to build lasting processes and institutions that will not only secure what we have built thus far, but move us on to other frontiers,” he said, emphasizing that the concept of reaching out would accommodate views and feelings of telecommunications firms who may not even be presently members, but “who as players in the industry, we are determined to take seriously in our plans.”

He pointed out that the objective would be to secure an industry fit for the purpose where all stakeholders could effectively play their respective roles, noting that the pace of development in the industry globally is frenetic and ATCON cannot afford not to keep up, asserting “The ball is firmly in our court.”

ATCON, Omo-Ettu said, would embark on a consultative programme in the coming weeks to canvass ideas from its members, which would form the foundation of the plans to be discussed at the Executive Committee and considered for implementation, disclosing that ATCON relationship with the media, as always, would remain robust, open and reciprocal.

“Our association will, whenever the need arises, study industry developments and issue statements only when we have completed our consultation processes. Our focus will be to publish the truth all the time so as to destroy rumour for all times,” he said, maintaining that his administration would be open and elude reactions to issues considered undeserving of reaction, just as he promised not join issues beyond stating the facts and the truth.

“At this moment, our consultation process is in progress regarding specific issues of industry management such as SIM card registration, sale of NITEL, Number Portability, industry restructuring, tariff management, Quality of Service (QoS), dominance to mention a few,” he said, even as relevant public statements would be issued on completion of the aforementioned consultations.

As the new NEC at ATCON settles down, stakeholders expect a vibrant tenure with the kind of people that eventually emerged at the election, but not without industry analysts observation that one thing that could not save Banjo during the reading of manifesto was the declaration of ‘war’ almost on every other person who may not be in the same page with the association instead of dialogue.

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