By NBF News

With Due Regard
-Ekuwem, ATCON national president
• Forces line behind ex-military president to succeed Yar'Adua

By Isaac Fadeyibi
Saturday, March 06, 2010


Dr. Emmanuel Effiong Ekuwem is the National President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), immediate Past President of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and also the CEO of Teledom Group, an indigenous conglomerate company with expertise in Broadband ICT infrastructure development, deployment and software development for Telecom process automation.

An alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University (University of Ife) Ile-Ife, Ekuwem holds a Bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics and two Master's degrees in Physics and Electronic & Electrical Engineering, respectively, as well as a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. He did his post-PhD fellowship research work, in the Networking and Radio Propagation Laboratory of the UNESCO ICTP, Trieste, Italy. He spoke on the subject of success and failure. Here are excerpts.

What do you understand by success?
Success to me is a meeting point of what should and what is. Success within that context is the ability to set out, mastering right resources which are human, material and financial, ensuring the right timing of set up, ensuring the right phases in the movement, ensuring the right speed in the movement, ensuring adequate reaction to issues that come on the path that you are charting towards success and at the end of the day to ensure that what was desired should become the accomplished. So, when mission is accomplished that is success.

What are the factors or ingredients success?
Definition and articulation of your missions, dream, destination, goal, objectives, clearly defined. So you plan, as they say nobody plans to fail but people fail to plan. You must define your goal, your mission, your destination, and your objectives. That is number one, vision or mission properly articulated and defined. Number two, the resources to actualize the defined mission or the defined vision; human, materials, financial and timing, which include on the spot reactions. It is noteworthy to know that one critical factor for success is human resource sourcing, human resource management, utilization and apportionment, put round pegs in round holes. Ability to react to unforeseen development, this is extremely important, which was not seen at the beginning. Number four, having encountered difficulties, you must remain focused, be disciplined and resolute.

Number five, in addition to what was earlier mentioned, those of us that are religions, as a Catholic I expect whoever is in that position to know that prayer is part of ingredients of success. No apology to offer because I believe in God, I always believe in His unseen hand in whatever I do, prayers provide me with the grace to move on even in the light of difficulties. My father was a teacher and catholicism, he believed in prayers, hardwork and discipline. He will always say that you don't have to get phd but be phd. Infact, to get phd you need to be phd. Number six is that when success comes, how you manage the successes is what will eventually accumulate and give you the overall success. You cannot because you started seening some small successes, you have dreamt to be a multimillionaire for example, and a few millions have come in, and you started raising your soldiers up, thinking of taking second wife, you are insulting your sisters and brothers, you are so nasty. You must be able to manage properly the commencement of success as they come.

Let us move to the other side of success. What is failure to you?

This is the opposite of success. In other words, it is when the vision is not actualized. It is when what one dreamt of or wished for, targetted, is not realized, it's not achieved, it's not attained, that is failure.

What are the objectives of ATCON- I mean what you are trying to achieve as an association?

The objective of ATCON is visionary advocacy of issues that relate to the telecom industry of Nigeria with the view to moving forward the frontiers of development of the telecom industry. ATCON is a digital/telecom advocacy group, visionary and well foresighted. We look at issues as it comes and we look at what obtaines in the other parts of the world, we situate the things that obtain in the other parts of the world within the context of our fatherland Nigeria and on the basis of using the resources, intellectual and physical resources. We map out the strategies to advise the regulator, the government of the three tiers; Federal, State and Local government on what needs to be done in terms of policy formulation, proper regulatory framework, legal framework and institutional framework to move forward the frontier of the Nigeria's digital industry, all with the view to contribute to national development, creating jobs, creating wealth, empowering young people, allowing everyone to have a sense of belonging and very high sense of well being within the polity.

ATCON as an association has strived and has done a very good work in the last 10-12 years, the association has had very splendid digital technocrats in the likes of the late Engineer Alaba Joseph, then, the splendid Engineer Ernest Ndukwe former National President of ATCON, Engineer Yahaya of Intercellular was an acting president briefly, after the demise of Engineer Joseph and the time I assumed office as National President. When you look at these galaxies of sterling Nigerians you will see that ATCON is a very serious and responsible national association that is populated by companies that are very serious minded. ATCON has no individual membership; members are companies and more often that not CEOs attend the annual general meetings. So, everyone in ATCON, every company in ATCON is a multimillion, multibillion organizations. The thing that plays out in ATCON is brain power, ideas and objectivity. What carries weight in ATCON are objectivities, commitment to national growth and development. It is only your competencies that will make you to survive as the national president of ATCON.

What is the core competence of Teledom Group?
Our core competence is broadband infrastructure provisioning. We are not service provider; we are infrastructure company, a technology company, a system integrator company. We belong to the subsector of technology provisioning and systems integrations. We do hardware technology through wireless and optical fiber and integration of system. We started business with broadband wireless, in those days in ICT industry I used to be called Mr Wireless because I always talk about wireless. We deployed some of the wireless solutions in some Nigerian universities, banks; Zenith Bank, CBN, NDIC, FCMB. We connect various terminals in the airports. We are guru in broadband wireless technology.

In the design of broadband wireless network, picking of the right technology which meets the customer specifications, installations, the management and the scaling of any broadband wireless network, that is our number one product. Number two is VSAT technology, VSAT network implementation and VSAT network management. Number three, we do a local area network for small offices, for medium size companies, in skyscrapers no matter how many stories. We also do video conferencing; we have customers like Nigerian Communications Commission, DBN and so on. Then we do security network operating systems, you can stay here and monitor the entire major city as defined in Lagos, in Enugu or elsewhere in Nigeria. We do e-learning or distance learning, we have smart board which is log onto the net and students can be in Abuja or anywhere in Nigeria and receive lectures, this is referred to as automation of learning processes; smart campuses, smart meeting rooms is part our business. Then we do agro vision using ICT to boost food security, where the right crops are planted in the right soil.

What is your leadership style?
Consult, consult, consult. Two good heads are better than one. Nothing to fear, nothing to lose in putting issues on the table and seeking the other person's opinion and learning from their opinion. Because it will enrich your opinion, no opinion is useless. It enables you to see the worth of giving your own opinion. In my dealing with people, everybody is a partner, my staff is a partner, my peer group is a partner, and my subordinates are partners, because each has a talent which is unique. There is a unique fragrance of each human being; there is no human being without a talent. The main issue is the ability to identify the talent of each individual and having identified that talent, put it into the right place. This style is not that I sat down to develop it, it came out of my Christian beliefs.

What motivates you?
Making sure that I leave what I have better than I met it. Like the bible says, in the beginning, the world was without form and void and God said 'let there be light and it was so and God saw that it was good'. What motivates me is doing things for the betterment of human beings, for the society or for the company. My motivation is to be co-creator with God.

Is Nigeria a success story with reference to telecom industry?

It is a success story, Nigeria of 2010 in comparison with Nigeria of 10 years ago, this is a monumental paradigm shift. It is a leap frog experience, it's a huge success. From the telecom standpoint in 1999, 40-45,000 lines both mobile and fixed to almost 75 million active lines in 2010. The whole world has seen that Nigeria has made a good impact in the telecom industry. Nigeria in comparison with 1999, congratulations, but we have not arrived at the promised land, this is very important. While comparing Nigeria with age mates in the world, we are not yet a big success. To get there, we need the right policies, the right encouragement by government, the right institutions, the right regulatory framework, we still need to have the cyber security law, and we still have to amend the Nigerian Communications Act. This recorded success is called centric revolution; the next phase which is the current crusade now is broadband, rapid broadband infrastructure at the threshold of every nook and crannies of Nigeria. If narrowband voice has done us well, what do you expect from broadband? The revolution has boosted the productivity of individuals and companies for narrowband, by the time we have the broadband it will be superb, very great. When each Nigerian is productive, a cumulative productivity of all Nigerians will give us Vision 20:2020. Broadband will galvanize things the way we never imagined in our lives that these things can be done in Nigeria, it will boost productivity, boost efficiencies, it will enhance cost effectiveness.