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Is MTN Against Nigerian Employees?

[b][/b]

The most senior Nigerian staff of MTN, Ms Funke Opeke who was

appointed after a long search for a Nigerian replacement for sacked

Demola Eleso has resigned. Opeke was only five months old on the

post.

Informed company sources told THISDAY that Opeke resigned after the

company reneged on some of the agreements reached during negotiations

leading to her employment.

An informed source said THISDAY that Opeke was trying to get what

the source termed a "corrective pay and benefits package" for the

Nigerian engineers working with her. And although the chief executive

officer of the Company, Mr. Sifiso Dabengwa agreed to all these

demands one on one

with Opeke, his approval was tactically withdrawn when he directed

her to the Chief Financial Officer.

According to the source, the CFO, for some strange reasons, blocked

the implementation of the agreement, insisting that the Company's

budget could not afford such despite the huge profits the company

makes in Nigeria yearly.

Sensing that the Company was about to make a fool of her after all

the promises she had made to the team who in turn had given her all

the cooperation and goodwill she needed to do well, Opeke decided to

withdraw her services from the company.

Some of the staff close to Opeke disclosed that the MTN board has

been trying to persuade her to reconsider her stand. She has however

refused to yield to the pressures, because of what she said was the

inability of those who run the company to keep to simple agreements.

Another source who spoke with THISDAY said it was doubtful if Opeke

stayed in MTN's official quarters. This may be because she was not

given the right kind of apartment she requested for. The source also

insisted that Opeke also was not given the kind of vehicle she

requested for as official car.

On why the resignation had not been made public, another MTN source

said the Chairman of the board, Dr. Pascal Dodzie and other members

of the board had been approached to prevail upon Opeke to rescind her

decision.

With her resignation, Opeke would be the fourth officer to leave the

post within one year. After Eleso was sacked April last year,

another Nigerian, Damoye Oyesiku was named as his replacement.

Oyesiku resigned after only three days. After the departure of

Oyesiku, a South African expatriate, Mr. Dion Krige who was seconded

from South Africa was appointed acting CTO. He was replaced in

October by Opeke.

THISDAY's attempt to get MTN to respond to the story yesterday proved

unsuccessful as both the Corporate Services Executive, Mrs. Amina

Oyagbola and the Head, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Funmi

Omogbenigun refused to either answer their calls or reply the text

messages sent to them. When THISDAY eventually got Omogbenigun on

phone yesterday she said she has been on holiday outside the country

and only returned on Friday night. According to her she is neither

aware nor has been briefed.

Opeke was described at the time of her engagement in MTN as a veteran

of highly competitive environments who was coming to MTN with over 20

years experience as telecommunications executive. She was said to be

a highly accomplished and results-oriented engineer who has worked in

several major telecommunications companies in the United States with

her most recent appointment prior to her return to Nigeria being as

the Executive Director, Performance Assurance, Verizon

Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in

the world. Opeke joined Verizon Communications as Executive Director

in 2001. Between 2001 and 2005, she managed different portfolios

including the Business Architecture and implementation of Verizon's

global backbone network; Global Managed Network Services, and

Performance Assurance for the Wholesale Services Line of Business.

She had held senior positions at several other companies in the

United States including Telcordia Technologies (Bellcore),

Piscataway; AlliedSignal

Corporation, Morristown; PA Consulting Group, Highstown; and RCA

American Communications, all in New Jersey.

With the Bachelor of Science degree in Electronic and Electrical

Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 1981,

Opeke proceeded to Columbia University, New York, United States of

America, where she obtained a Master of Science Degree in Electrical

Engineering in 1984. During her brief stay as MTN CTO, her

responsibilities included the planning and management of the entire

MTN Nigeria network.

At the time of her engagement, MTN Corporate Services Executive,

Oyagbola, was quoted as saying that Opeke's appointment is evidence

of MTN's commitment to recruit the best Nigerian brains and to

contribute to the development of Nigerian human capital.

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