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The Old Boys Network: Does It Exist In Nigeria?

This is something that happens everywhere in the world.

In NY, the Columbia, Yale or Harvard IB scions dominate the world of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan. Likewise for the Ivy League lawyers, they are usually set for a career at some of the most prestigious law firms in the US, mostly founded by some ex-alumni.

Most people know about Stanford/Caltech/UCB and the Silicon Valley connection. In fact, Sun Microsystems is basically owned by ex-Stanford comp sci grads.

My question is, do we have anything like that in Nigeria? Is there really an 'old boys network'? Do we have firms primarily dominated by ex-alumni of some certain institutions?  In my early job-seeking days, I came up a number of times against an 'Ife clique', in places like Telnet, Spar Aerospace (later GS Telecom), Philips Projects Center, and even Resourcery. These days, I hardly hear of such things among the fresh guys coming up. Though I hear Renaissance Capital is dominated by Ife people, that's just about it. All the places that I have worked, and indeed most organizations these days, people join from just about anywhere.

I think it's not so bad to have an old boys network. The only thing I have not seen in Nigeria, is what I consider to be the next level: old boys actually going on to set up their own outfit, and taking it up there. With all the Ife domination of Telnet and GS Telecom, I haven't still heard of any homegrown outfit founded by a bunch of Ife guys competing with those chaps. Pretty disappointing if you ask me.

What do you guys think?

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It's obvious that Barewa alone was to the North what King's College, Christ School Ado, GCI, GC Umuahia and few others are to teh South.

To go to standard, reputable school in the South then, you had options in at least 10 schools, but in teh north, Barewa appeared to be the only standard, reputable high school at teh period. But let's still give it to the school, to produce 5 presidents is no joke.

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You got a point there though but the El Rufais and the Ribadu's are relatively younger.

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Pardon my obvious bias.

There are not that many schools of similar calibre in the North. So you might just find that anyone who went to secondary school in the North in the 60s and 70s, went to this school.

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Thats just like Achemota in Ghana

heard the school has produced like 4 Presidents already

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We already mentioned it earlier on the first page.

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Have you guys heard of Barewa college?

The Old boys are running things in naija.

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^^

Actually I kind of admire the Ife clique thing.

Apart from the bonding, the guys from that school generally have a positive work attitude. Even the guys that finish with average degrees are pretty good. And I like the way they support each other.

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i got to where i work now cos a friend an ex Ife/pwC told someone about me in S.A and blimey i got a call from Jo'bourg if ill be interested in meeting some guys. I did and i was told, my friend just saved them some hassles by getting me cos it would have taken them weeks to really sieve through CVs and eventually hiring someone.

Recommendation wouldnt necessarily distort merits cos the companies have standards and only someone who fits the standard will eventually be hired irrespective of who gives the referral. I agree with Jarus, we Ife guys have a way of bonding 2geda after school and hence the reason why we are usually clustered in the corporate setting.

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Implementation of OBN inhibits meritocracy.

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I guess what SEFAGO meant is that undue favouritism and unhealthy cover-up may come in.

In the case of Adekanye and co I mentioned above, when Adekanye's bank ran into troubled waters, the Judge to decide on the case was also an 'old boy' and I think the judge withdrew from teh case or something when a national issue that affaected the economy was turning into old boys issue.

In essence, promotions and appointment, investigations, national decisions, etc may be less than transparent or altruistic when the bond of old boys is given too much strenght.

But much as I agree this should be a cause for concern, I think this is also exaggerated. I don't think any executive, especially if he's part of the ownership or leadership, will sacrifice corporate ethics, in the name of old boys bond. I mentioned the case of the Judge that withdrew because the CEO involved was an ex-boy.

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^^

Nice one Jarus.

Would be interesting to know what you think of SEFAGO's submission that it's not necessarily a good thing.

Personally I think it is one way that we can leverage to enable a real middle class in Nigeria. Linking each other up for jobs is a start, and we hope to see these networks playing out in the corporate world in the future.

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Old boys network does exist in Nigeria, but as has been mentioned up there, not so strong as we have in top schools in top countries.

It appears more organized at the high school level, although that is also dwindling now. Hence, schools like KC, QC, Christ School Ado Ekiti, Barewa(of old) and few others all have an organized, effective old boys network and a conscious, concerted way of bringing up products of their schools. Even my own alma mater, Offa Grammar school, Offa, less known as it is, also has a very strong old boys network that has been very beneficial. In the late 80's to early 90's, there was the Oladele Olasore (then CEO of First Bank), Femi Adekanye (then CEO of Commerce bank), Abioye Oyeleke(NSE President) and a few other top shots in Corporate Nigeria then, all products of this school, who, through a vibrant old boys network, put on track some of their guys from the school, and even at corporate decision making level in the nation's financial sector, the spirit of 'old boys' came to play. Far more technical and sophisticated moves exist among boys from Kings College, Christ School Ado -Ekiti(Erastus Akingbola finished from this school), GCI, and few other top secondary schools with strong old boys networks, in which decisions were finished on 'old boys' table or phone calls.

I also remember the famous 'Insight 82' group, made up of 1982 Economics class of Ife. The guys were so strong they, behind the scene, moved the nation's banking scene some years ago and bond together only by being classmates. Among them was Ibrahim Dosunmu, late MD of Wema bank, who died in December 2000. One of them was also an ED in Access Bank then, and a number were also EDs and GMs in other top banks I can't recall. Those guys effectively made use of old boys network to do a lot of things.

Although not as organized and conscious, as it used to be, it still exists in some fashion, usually through sharing of valuable information. In my Ife clique of friends for example, we still make use of it, and it has been every helpful. In my current coy example, I have been able to bring forward my room mate to join us(I brought him from GTB), another one is resuming this week(coming from Zenith) and I just spoke with our HR on another's bahalf, and he will also be joining any time from now, subject to doing well in interview. One rejected an offer to join us because of pay package issue(should have come from P&G). Three others fluffed the opportunity by not being satisfactory enough in selection process(would have come from Mobil, Zenith and GTB). So if all of them had come, that means my company would have been parading at least 10 staff from my Ife clique alone, all through me. Any info I get I pass across among guys. Others also do it. I remember when, two years ago, a GM in UBA put a call to me to come and join him in his unit, having lost my classmate to another company. I wasn't interested and I introduced another classmate of mine to him, but he wasn't too keen at taking him. This friend of mine ended in GTB, courtesy another ex-room mate of ours in Ife, now a GT big boy.

I think Ife guys are trying in this regard. They have that strong bond after school, and it has been very beneficial, at least for flow of useful information. Ife Economics dominate the whole of Merristem Research dept, from HOD to NYSC. The entire research dept of that investment banking is filled with my senior, mate and juniors in Ife, although some just use it as a stop-gap before moving to bigger coys. It is also very common to have a network of Ife engineering guys in Schlumberger, Shell, Chevron etc.

The old boys network is actually in place in Nigeria, and working, even if not well coordinated or organized.

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yeah I know, I am planning to create my own business card in a couple of weeks hehe. I do try in my own little way to help fellow Nigerians even going as far as doing everything for them lol.

Depends- yes you have examples like Ban Ki Moon, Vikram Pandit and a host of inept of others- but then you still have brilliant Asians especially south asians such as Indian people. Actually the economist ran an article on themanagement Gurus of the world and there was only one white guy- the rest where Indians. All PhD holders in management strategy/finance who had done ground breaking research.

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^^

I think it's some kind of professional immaturity.

Whether at home or abroad, Nigerians should have been banding together, creating informal networks, and using these networks to leverage some sort of advantage. Somehow, due to our individualistic outlook, we haven't been able to close ranks.

I am wondering if we would be this enlightened as individuals if we banded together like the Indians or Chinese. I think the soldier-ant mentality those guys have is not really sustainable, as they don't really have so many guys who can function as an individual, at top level.

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Not just Europeans everyone. I noticed something in the US- your best help- sadly would come from your country man than someone else.

Take for example Vikram Pandit- brilliant man, but its likely he would never have headed Citigroup if not for the support of fellow indians in teh company. Indians too have a very strong network, because a lot of them work in the financial industry especially wall street and they give themselves a lot of support. Chinese- same stuff, give themselves a lot of support- they are famous for that.

Nigerians always ready to stab themselves in the back or feel they dont really have to help anyone, since they reached the top themselves. I dont see a lot of Nigerian networking going on- maybe I am probably oblivious to it.

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Old Boys' Network Does Exist In Nigeria

Add ISL,ISI and Barewa College to that List.

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What of Federal Govt Colleges? I know Ik has a strong network in the UK and Naija.

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Why don't we form a Nairaland network?

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What network do you plan yo use? And which did your friend use? Uni or Sec School?

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interesting post. and yes the OBN still exist in naija up till this very present moment. and also infulence also. i know a friend who got a job wth skyebank jst based on OBN and inluential person levesl. anyway me sef wan use OBN get jpb for naija now sha but all the same i dey also run things on my own wthout depending solely on my network.

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Finbarr's is not a school for scallywags as you mentioned Ajanlekoko. It has been returned to the Catholic church like some other missionary schools. The head of the OBN used to be an Ajanlekoko too( I think Segun). The school has produced many great Nigerians: in sports Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Chris Anigala, Paul Okoku, Henry Nwosu, and many others. Ofcourse the founder Rev Dennis Slattery was an active an founding member of the Nigeria Football association and the Nigerian Referees Association. The gounds on which the University of Lagos stands was part of the land acquired by Rev Slattery when he arrived the bushes of Akoka many years ago.

The school was established to provide a mixture of Grammarian and technical education for its students, a reason why its graduates were very good at technical subjects like woodwork, metalwork, Tecnical Drawing etc, and the sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology as all these subjects were taught to students from class one unlike other schools which started them in class 3.

Finbarr's also has many distinguished professionals in other spheres of life which are too numerous to mention.

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Some secondary schools in 9ja has got a thing with moving 2geda decades after school. Abeokuta Grammar school Abeokuta (AGSOBA), Military schools, Kings and Queens Colleges, St Finbarrs, Loyola Jesuit Ibadan, GCI, Christ School Ado, some military schools in 9ja and some schools are good at rolling 2geda many years after graduating from school.

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Old boys' network also exists in Nigeria. Many MNCs and companies in Lagos employ a lot of people from certain Universities. There is nothing bad in networking and assisting each other, but I must tell you that certain people take it too far and way out of proportion. If you did not graduate from their secondary school or Uni, you are treated as an outsider and an enemy. People from their secondary school or Uni are surreptitiously given positions of advantage or prominence so that they can take over management positions later. Even the eggheads back in the unis collaborate closely with the top management from their alumni, they supply them with oestrogens and errand boys or loyal while in return the names they forward get good positions in industry.

Many cults on campuses also operate on similar principles, collaborating with the powers in society to inflict hurt and harm on non-members, competitors or those who are perceived to be threats to their existence.

The truth is that many old boys' association exist not to improve society but to feather inordinate ambitions of godfathers and the likes. Consider that many schools( secondary and Unis) are in states of dilapidation while the old boys' watch and indulge in mundane activities, some of which cannot be mentioned here. Many of them have forgotten that the institutions were founded on religious principles which are diametrically opposite to what they practice now.

May God help our country

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Nothing like dat in naija

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Are talking you only about the OBN that comes from school cliques or also including the It's Who You Knows in general? I didn't go to school in Nigeria but before I even graduated, I had family and family friends offering me jobs in Nigeria. Cronyism exists and I know a lot of people back home (and even here in the US) that have their jobs solely because of connections they have or have made. Play the game or get left behind I guess.

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Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward. It does not have to be a particular school affair. Notwithstanding, we cant shy away from the opportunity such networks offer.

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On the contrary. Back then I had admiration for the informal flow of information, and the support system created by the pseudo-network, which by the way was built on reputation and not nepotism. These guys always felt that they needed to 'rep' their school, and they mostly did it to the max

Remember, these were all forward-looking, outstanding students from Ife. I have never minded competition, so it didn't really matter to me. I am just wondering how these support systems have not been more pronounced in other sectors, or have even developed beyond what I saw in those days.

For example, I am thinking: What of the guys finishing from Babcock and CU? The alumni who have experienced moderate success, should they not be establishing such support structures, in order to reinforce confidence in these schools in Corporate Nigeria? In the US, that is mostly what the network is all about. It sells programs at Harvard and Yale, since people will want to go to the schools that guarantee a listening ear from the likes of Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. It also reinforces collaboration between industry and academia, like in the Silicon Valley example I cited earlier. For me, I think the Old Boys Network is not a bad thing at all. Maybe that's why the US educational system is much more interesting and competitive than its peers worldwide.

I think there is nothing bad in an Old Boys Network supplying the economic and political system with credible hands that can influence the system positively. Sorry I have to use Ife as an example again. The NCC EVC, Ernest Ndukwe, a government functionary, is an ex-Ife chap. What if the NCC enables an opportunity in the telecom industry, that may immediately favour an entrepreneural effort by some other ex-Ife guys?Is there really anything bad in that?

I have seen the way Europeans in Nigerian MNCs surreptiously band together and somehow establish an informal network. Hire a South African chap to head up an MNC in Nigeria, and all of a sudden you begin to see a silent proliferation of South African personnel in key positions, as well as South African service providers/vendors. Sometimes, it is even maybe a bunch of ex-alumni of a certain MNC that show up to head a company in Nigeria, and they begin to summon their old colleagues and service providers. This happens all the time in Nigeria, and all of a sudden you begin to see Nigerians marginalized in their own country.

If the Ife informal network that was developing back then had taken firmer route, maybe in the ICT industry we would have seen more local content emerge. And at the end of the day, Nigerians would benefit, irrespective of whether they went to Ife or not. I didn't attend Ife, but still worked in some of the places where the 'Ife network' were prominent. Maybe that's why I saw an opportunity in that sort of bonding, given the tribal and religious complexities we seem to have in Nigeria. At least something else exists to bind Nigerians together.

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didnt know o

so you worked with Resourcery? heard they are tryin to raise cash with IFC presently, do u have any idea how its going?

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