INAUGURAL SPEECH BY DR. (MRS.) IJE JIDENMA, F.IoD AT HER INVESTITURE AS THE 17TH
PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS NIGERIA,
HELD ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2021, AT THE ORIENTAL HOTEL, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS
I am delighted to be in your midst and humbled to address you today at my Investiture as the 17th President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Institute of Directors, Nigeria. Our people: the Associates, Members, Fellows and Distinguished Fellows of our great Institute have always looked forward to moments like this that signal historic renewal, every two years. When, on Thursday, June 24, 2021, the eminent members of our Governing Council unanimously elected me as their Chairman and President of the Institute, the responsibility thrust upon my shoulders, was not lost to me. I was awed and humbled by the privilege and honour, sheer trust and confidence and respectfully accepted to serve the Institute faithfully and diligently as I saw the '"Fingers of God " in it.
" When I consider Your heavens,
the works of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you have ordained,
what is man that You are mindful of him?"
Again, it was William Shakespeare in his book 'Julius Caesar’ who stated,
“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such full sea as we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures"
In thanking the Almighty God for making this day possible, I most sincerely thank all the people who have encouraged and nurtured me in my life's journey. This day was made possible through the tutelage and mentor ship of many people too numerous to mention here. As we may rightly expect, from an inspiring and dogged father to great teachers, mentors and role models; from the most primary level to the Board-level. To many who gave me the opportunity to learn and contribute to their boards and organisations, I remain most grateful. I pray to God for wisdom, grace and grit to effectively bear the torch that has been handed over to me. Success can only be achieved if we all work together and re-enforce one another.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is exciting to note that IoD Nigeria has made great strides since its establishment as a branch of the IoD UK in 1983 by men and women of great vision. Their primary objective was to instill in Nigeria’s corporate world the best global practices in corporate governance. I commend our visionary founders, worked tirelessly and deployed their resources to achieve the noble objectives for which the Institute was set up. Some of these great men and women have passed on, leaving behind a lasting legacy that have withstood the test of time as shown in the Institute’s continued relevance in the advocacy for good governance practice across sectors of our economy and in Nation Building, generally. Please, permit me to pay tribute to these great men and women starting with late Chief Abel Guobadia, the Founding President of the Institute. The other leaders who have also passed on are Alhaji Ali Baba, Chief Mrs. Olutoyin Olakunri, Alh. A. O. G. Otiti, Oba Oladele Olashore and Chief Isaac Olusola Dada. These great leaders, all passed through the annals of the history of our great Institute. At this juncture, may I seek your indulgence to kindly stand up for one minute in honour of these outstanding past leaders. ……. May their Souls continue to rest in perfect peace. Thank you.
Let me also commend the distinguished Past Presidents of the IoD, who were privileged to lead its affairs, starting with our very dear ‘Doyen of Past Presidents,’ Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, DF.IoD, right down to our Immediate Past President, Chief Chris O. Okunowo, F.IoD. These pantheons of progress discharged their responsibilities with dignity, honour, wisdom and integrity. I appreciate all of you not only for the great work you have done, but also your sustained passion in continuing to raise the IoD brand and standards of good corporate governance in Nigeria. I acknowledge the three female Past Presidents on whose shoulders I stand today- late Past President Olutoyin Olakunri, Past President Benedikter Molokwu and Past President Eniola Fadayomi. If these great women didn't make the brave move evidently marked by success, I would not be standing in front of you today. At this point in time, I must not forget other Elders of the Institute who have played great roles at one time or the other to elevate the Institute. I salute Dr. Christopher Kolade, CFR, Chief Mrs. Opral Benson, OFR,Chief Philip Asiodu , CFR , Chief Felix Osifo and others too numerous to mention.
I am proud of my forebears, all that they stood for and their selfless contributions and services to the Institute, culminating in its growth. We have over 4,000 members serving as Directors in various spheres of life within Nigeria and in other parts of the world. IoD is, today, recognized as a model and the strongest advocate for the enthronement of best corporate governance practice in the private and public sectors of our country. I owe them a debt of gratitude and I think they can be best appreciated by ensuring that their achievements and legacies are sustained. As part of this appreciation, and following the approval of the Governing Council of the Institute, I will be conferring today, the highest honour of Distinguished Fellowship of the Institute on our Immediate Past President, Chief Chris Olufunmilola Okunowo, F.IoD for his invaluable contribution to the Institute.
As the President of our great Institute, I will do my best to discharge the duties of my office and undertake to respect the judgement and advice of my fellow Council Members as well as the EXCO. I will join hands with all well-meaning stakeholders to create and bequeath an Institute that is better than the one we have today. I want to assure you that I am fully committed and willing to deploy my time and resources towards the attainment of our vision to establish and sustain a first-class Institute, managed professionally and responsibly; one that is flexible and adaptable to the needs of its members and recognized and respected locally and internationally. I humbly, therefore, request for your support and guidance, which would be crucial in bringing about the positive change that we all desire.
In 2017, the Institute unfolded a 5-year strategic plan themed, “Agenda of Reform and Progress.” Early this year, at the twilight of the first five years of the plan and having consolidated on the gains of the past years, we organised another retreat even in the face of the dire challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic with the theme “IoD 2021 -2025: Future Forward Planning. At this Retreat attended by members of the Governing Council & Executive Committee of the Institute, members reviewed and approved a new vision, mission and a set of core values as well as a new 5-year strategic plan for the Institute.
Let me also state that in implementing the new 5-year strategic plan, the Institute is now re-designed to keep pace with the demands of our members and stakeholders. This has resulted in a reform of existing structures and processes at the Institute. I assure you that we will continue to build on the gains and successes recorded so far. We will ensure that IoD practices what it preaches through exemplary leadership. We shall also strengthen corporate governance standards and practices as well as ethical values in the Governing Council, EXCO and Management as well as in our Policy and Standing Committees.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, even as we continue to implement and fine-tune our 5-year strategic plan, there is no doubt that IoD is an organisation in transition. It is situated in a world that is fast disappearing. I see a world in which technology and Covid-19 pandemic have worked together to greatly disrupt and effectively change the world as we know it. Here, in Nigeria, the rising spate of insurgency and insecurity have significantly changed the tide. The resultant effect and outcome, have therefore posed a great challenge to us and others. But even within this quantum change, I see a resilient IoD. I see an IoD with a great future, not only for the Institute but one that would be a significant part of the transformational journey of our country and continent. Thus, IoD in transition needs to be 'future-ready'. Future readiness, is therefore, the underlying philosophy of my tenure and is hinged on 5 pillars.
This addresses the private-public sector partnerships. We will work to strengthen the public-private sector policy engagements and interactions in the broader national interest. If this is achieved, it would reduce the tendency for policy imposition from the top thereby creating an enabling environment for participatory policy making involving all stakeholders. We intend to deliberately reach out to young directors and bring them into the fold of the IoD family or pipeline, through well targeted means such as our 'Young Directors Forum', Mentoring Schemes, etc. IoD is for all Directors-experienced, aspiring and new ones, a great platform for cross-fertilization of ideas, mentorship and what is now termed "reverse mentorship ". We are all witnesses of the emergent Fintech sector which has produced the likes of Flutterwave, Paystack Interswitch, Remita (Systems Spec). We need to provide governance guidance, leadership and director development support that would enable Directors to not only scale but ensure their survival and sustainability. And in the productive sector, there is a void crying for the replication of the Dangote's , Coscharis, and Eleganzas of this world . The changes brought about by the pandemic have presented us with the opportunity to re-energize our people to be more forward-looking and to see a larger opportunity and chance to build on our ideals.
Inclusiveness, also involves getting both genders to work together in partnership, at all levels. We will work to ensure that women in key positions as well as those aspiring to be brought to the table, are given the opportunity to do so, using platforms such as our Women Directors Development Committee and collaborations & partnerships with bodies and organisations that share the same vision without compromising our standards. I vividly recall that our Key Note Speaker at one of the ground breaking events of the Institute, Mrs Bola Adesola, the newly appointed Chairman of Ecobank, ask the women to no longer wait endlessly to be brought to the table. She asked them instead to build and bring their own table, whenever necessary and feasible. Congratulations, Madam. There is proof that Boards that have a good mix of both genders outperform the others that are limited in their constitution. This path for growth and performance is well supported by our Council.
Growth and Development of the Institute
We will work to grow, develop and expand our membership networks beyond Lagos, Abuja, Port- Harcourt and Abeokuta. Our focus is to ensure that the impact of the Institute is greatly felt outside our commercial and political capitals in order to meet our objective of using Director Development and Corporate Governance as veritable vehicles for national development. Apart from targeting entrepreneurial clusters in the country, we also hope to work towards extending our reach and contributions to the African continent and beyond through research, knowledge sharing and thought leadership pieces from the IoD Centre for Corporate Governance.
Chartership of the Institute
The professionalization of the practice of Directorship is one of our top priorities. We intend to achieve this through the Chartership of our great Institute. This is a matter we must strive to conclude. The good news is that the bill for the Chartership has successfully passed through the Senate. It has also passed through the first reading at the House of Representatives and is awaiting the second reading and concurrence. Our aim is to see that we proceed to the final phase as soon as possible by getting the President's assent. I remain grateful to our hardworking team that has made this possible. The Charter Status will enable us to standardize the capacity building, training and director development for our members and other Directors who are interested to avail of our services through digital access. Various stages of certifications will align to the standards obtainable in other parts of the world such as IoD UK but with focus on the local environmental challenges through our case-studies and unique practical portfolios. The uniform capacity building and up to date programmes for carefully and systematically selected Faculty members will further validate the world-class standard of our products which will feed top level practitioners to our Industries, Organisations, Institutions and Governments.
IoD House Project
The IoD House Project is one of our Sustainability pillars. Getting the IoD House Project to quickly and appropriately 'take-off' is one of our greatest objectives. We are working round the clock to put the appropriate Governance Structures in place to ensure that the project succeeds both in its high-level strategic plans as set out and approved by the Council and in the day-to-day seamless implementation or execution. We believe that having a permanent structure for our Institute will provide the bespoke facilities that would take care of the needs of our Directors and enrich our value proposition. Very soon we would be reaching out to you and our various stakeholders on the opportunities for contributions, sponsorships and indeed equity investment in this 'Master Piece' design of the edifice that would be situated at Temple Road, Ikoyi , Lagos. I cannot but commend our Consultants, Design Professionals and the diverse, multi-talented and vibrant team led by Mr Ernest Ebi, MFR.
Being "future-ready' includes digital transformation. We have recently embarked on a digital transformation project for the Institute. This project is dear to our heart, and crucial to our attainment of our goals. With the commencement of our 'fit for purpose' Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), we will drive the process to ensure that the Institute, members and staff become more efficient and are able to employ data analytics in most things we do, thereby establishing scientific basis for our actions. We will not fail in our oversight responsibilities and in seeing that management ensures that the practical needs of the Institute are met by the ERP Consultants. More importantly, is its impact on our culture and core values. The culture change initiative is being led by the Human Capital Development Committee.
Ladies and gentlemen, apart from these highlighted areas, my administration shall, in general, encourage and educate our members to entrench professionalism and ensure the actualisation of our core values of Integrity, Meritocracy, Professionalism, Accountability & Probity, Customer Centricity and Teamwork.
We shall also leverage on our existing strategic partnerships and alliances with professional organisations, including our membership of the African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN) to explore and deepen networking and information flow opportunities through research and other ‘trickle-down’ advantages of active participation in the body and negotiating the hosting of the organisation’s convention within the next two years. Other strategic alliances with other progressive Institutions such as the Lagos Business School, Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies , Kuru, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN and many others would be strengthened as the future is hinged on collaborative efforts.
I would like to say that all these initiatives and programmes are only achievable with the active support of the Council, EXCO and Members, and particularly with the cooperation of Management and the entire Secretariat staff. I have had meetings with Management and staff and promised them the commitment and support of the Council towards the realisation of IoD’s objectives, while assuring them of a free hand to implement all approved policies and programmes.
As I conclude, I wish to thank all of you once again and particularly express my deep appreciation to: the Chairman of this occasion, Alhaji Muhammad K. Ahmad, OON, M.IoD, Special Guest of Honour, Dr. Stella Okoli, OON, DF.IoD, and the Guest Speaker, Mr. Asue Ighodalo. I also thank Mr George Etomi, who performed the very important task of oath administration.
I am grateful to all the Past Presidents of our Institute and other members of the Governing Council and the Executive Committee including my colleagues in the Presidential Consultative and Strategic Council ( PCSC) whose advisory role and contributions to the work we have embarked upon, have been most useful.
I must single out, for special mention, the Chairman of the Investiture Planning Committee, Alhaji Tijjani M. Borodo, F.IoD and other members of the Committee responsible for the organisation of this event. I must admit that I am overwhelmed by the amount of work done to achieve the success that is evident here today. The compere of the day, Mr Yinka Akinkugbe for whom nothing is too much to give for the cause of IoD, my deep appreciation. The same goes to the Management and staff of the Institute. I thank you all. To my Lagos Business School Chief Executive Programme Class, it has been an ‘Awesome Solidarity'. The members who have now become like a family , have rallied round me to ensure that all support needed are provided. I remain eternally grateful. May I request the Members of the Investiture Committee to stand up for recognition and take a bow . Please, permit me to also do the same for the CEP 17 Class of LBS, 2008.
I appreciate our numerous guests who, despite their busy schedules and commitments, deemed it necessary to grace this occasion with their valued presence. My thanks also goes to our Sponsors and the Media whose support have no doubt placed the event on an enviable pedestal of success.
Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for their encouragement and support. I thank particularly my daughter, Nmachi Oreoluwa Jidenma for her great support on this journey. There is no doubt that I would be needing more of the support in the coming months from you all and pray that God will bless our efforts and grant us the grace needed to succeed.
The Covid-19 pandemic is still very much with us. Please, stay safe and continue to observe the protocols.
I thank you all and wish you smooth and safe return to your various homes and destinations.
Dr. (Mrs.) Ije Jidenma, F.IoD
President & Chairman of Governing Council
3rd October, 2021