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
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with Opeke, his approval was tactically withdrawn when he directed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
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),
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.