On September 5, 2019, we published the first-ever “The Lunch Hour” interview. Since then, we have featured more than 30 high-profile Nigerians in the private sector and international development arena, all with different stories to tell of their early beginnings while going on to discuss a wide range of issues.
Over the course of 2020, we spoke with some very renowned and widely respected figures in the country – of course acknowledging Covid-19 prevention protocols – and across multiple sectors including energy, hospitality, finance, etc.
As the year comes to a close, the Arbiterz Editorial Team has picked 10 of the absolute must-reads in this series for our readers.
1. The Lunch Hour – Leye Falade, General Manager, Production, NLNG
“My mom was extremely industrious. She was supplying dressed chickens to Joyce-B, a popular supermarket in Ibadan at that time and she enlisted us in the effort. For every chicken you dressed, you got 50 kobo. I was aiming to buy what we used to call a “Disco Watch” – it beamed brightly when you pressed a button. The watch was N13. I quickly understood helping my mom to dress chickens was a way to get the watch, so I was very enthusiastic.”
2. The Lunch Hour – Dr. Joe Abah, Country Director, DAI
“One of the issues I can think about is the fact that in the First Republic, immediately after Independence, we lost the opportunity to actually create a model nation. People were so sectarian in their thinking that the wonderful opportunity was lost … what we have lacked is a leadership that can look at these things and redesign them. We got close to that with the National Conference of 2014; unfortunately, it was done a year before the elections.”
3. The Lunch Hour – Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga
“I worked for a startup in California as a semi-conductor chip designer. However, I was very bad at it and got fired after 3 months despite my efforts to learn and understand what I was to do. It was a very painful experience, and I remember crying in front of my boss when we discussed my future at the company.”
4. The Lunch Hour – Owen Omogiafo, CEO, Transcorp Group Plc
“A roadmap for the power sector was designed when the sector was privatized over a decade ago. We just need the government to help enforce these reforms and move quickly to make the sector self-sustaining.”
5. The Lunch Hour – Andrew Alli, CEO & Partner at Southbridge Group
“I would say that governments need to think about building institutional capacity. This is the best way to manage prosperity and crises. Philanthropy is great and needed in times of crisis, but is not a strategy to move a country forward … The institutions in Nigeria and across the broader African continent are weak. Whenever there’s a crisis, we seek external help. We have relied on the likes of Bill Gates to help fix various areas of our health sector.”
6. The Lunch Hour – Olu Akpata, Partner, Templars Law Firm and President, Nigerian Bar Association
“Sometimes it can be a bit of a conflict for me because I like to see things in black and white. This is a struggle for the lawyer today because I find that most people dwell in the “grey areas”. I wish there could be an absolute truth but that’s just not realistic in today’s society.”
7. The Lunch Hour – Kingsley Moghalu: UNDP Special Envoy
“As a black person and an African, you have to be twice as competent as white colleagues to be successful. I had a successful career in the UN, but I worked extremely hard and God blessed my effort.”
8. The Lunch Hour – Hamda Ambah, CEO, FSDH Merchant Bank
“I have learnt that you can’t motivate everyone the same way. Some people need to be validated by public recognition. Some are driven by being given challenges. So it is important to take time to figure out how to deal with each person or team.”
9. The Lunch Hour – Stanley Adewole Fagbule, CEO, SellyFak Energy Services Limited
“When I was going to Port Harcourt, I remember my mum warning me to not go near water. I was posted to Chevron [then Gulf Oil Company] to serve. And on my very first day, they took me offshore. I thought about sharing my mother’s concern with them but decided against it.”
10. The Lunch Hour – Fola Fagbule, Senior Vice President, Africa Finance Corporation
“Formation was a pleasure to write because it is such an important and interesting story and Feyi [Fawehinmi] is a great person to work with. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met. It was a pleasure, really. I used to work as a writer when I was a research analyst, and I have been writing since I was a child.”