PRESS RELEASE: ENCOMIUMS AS CORPORATE NIGERIA HONOURS ABEBE
Corporate Nigeria paid glowing tributes to the pioneering and selfless leadership roles of Dr Christopher EbhodagheAbebe, first Nigerian Chairman and Managing Director of UAC of Nigeria PLC and boardroom extraordinaire who played key roles in the development of indigenous management capacity in the country. Dr Abebe who worked in UAC for 45 years and retired in 1980 passed away on 22nd March 2018, aged 99 years.
Speaking at a well-attended Evening of Tributes in honour of Dr Abebe, organised by the Partner Companies – UAC of Nigeria PLC (UAC), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Nigerian Breweries PLC (NB PLC), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and Vitafoam Nigeria PLC – at the Jubilee Hall of St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, the Chairman of UAC, Mr Dan Agbor said: “But we will remember him more for what he symbolised – INCORRUPTIBLE INTEGRITY. In this regard Dr. Abebe was a torch bearer who, by his conduct and example, showed generations of Nigerians how companies should be led and governed.”
Mr Abdul Bello, Group Managing Director/CEO of UAC, who highlighted Dr Abebe’s pioneering role within and outside the Company, noted:“As the Chairman and Managing Director, he not only piloted the Company through the tricky period of the Indigenisation programme of the Federal Government, but was an avid canvasser for the Nigerianisation of the top management cadre of UAC, using every opportunity to ensure that talented Nigerians became heads of businesses. He was the one that insisted that a Nigerian must succeed him as the Chairman and Managing Director of UAC and singularly pursued the cause to a logical conclusion when Dr Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, took over from him as head of the Company in 1980!”
In his tribute at the occasion, Professor Olukunle Iyanda, President and Chairman of Council of NIM, recalled Dr Abebe’s role in the founding of the largest multi-disciplinary, multi sectoral, not-for-profit professional organization in Nigeria and, indeed, in Africa, stressing: “In appreciation of Dr. Abebe’s immense contribution to the founding, operations, development and growth of the Institute, he was elected the first Fellow of the Institute in 1966. And in 2005, he was elevated to the exalted grade of Companion of the Nigerian Institute of Management (CNIM). Earlier in 1978, the Chris Abebe Award for distinguished service by a member to the Institute at the Council level, was established by Mr. P. G. Malins in honour of Dr. Chris Abebe.”
Picture of Partners for Evening of Tributes for Dr. Christopher E. Abebe
Left: Representatives of Vitafoam, UACN, NIM, Nigeria Breweries and NECA
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of Nigerian Breweries PLC, Chief Kola Jamodu, stated: “In our specific industry, Dr. Abebe’s time as Chairman, saw the beginning of the use of local raw materials as substitutes for barley as a response to government’s policy on the use of local raw materials for companies in the country. His tenure as Chairman also saw an expansion in the company’s existing brewery footprints with the commissioning of Ibadan brewery in 1982 following the Lagos, Aba and Kaduna Breweries. Significantly, the land where our flagship Ama Brewery currently sits was also acquired during Dr. Abebe’s time as Chairman of our Board.”
In its tribute, the Management of Vitafoam Nigeria PLC recalled the immense role Dr Abebe played in arresting the crisis in the Company and paving the way for smooth succession in the Company, saying: “His deft handling of the fracture in the system set the foundation for the widely acclaimed and time-tested culture of seamless Board and Management succession that has become a hallmark of the Vitafoam system through the ages. The maturity and adroitness he exhibited in the handling of Board affairs and overall governance of the company after the exit of the British ensured that Vitafoam flourished and became even more vibrant under a full Nigerian Management. This is a remarkable accomplishment considering that most organizations hardly survive the exit of their expatriate leaders. He was indeed a bridge builder!”
Mr. Timothy Olawale, Director (Membership Services) of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), while recalling Dr Abebe’s selflessness and outstanding service, said: “He was renowned in his lifetime as a big engine of support, which did not stop pulsating no matter how difficult and challenging the situation was. He demonstrated this in many facets of business, trade, religion and family life. Dr. Abebe led by example, courage, enthusiasm and discipline. He was a colossus.”
The Evening of Tribute was witnessed by movers and shakers in government, politics and the corporate world.