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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Isaac hired


A smartly dressed man and woman, visibly struggling to contain the pressure, sat on either side of the tough but well liked man that was in a few hours about to employ one of them.

This was the culmination of what had been dubbed the ultimate job interview. The two had risen above 16 others and galloped into the finals. And here they were in a huge packed Lagos hall and no one knew who the big man would hire.

Would it be the small, “action-packed” and “aggressively tactful” Isaac Kwabena Dankyi-Koranteng from Ghana or was the greater destiny of the day going to be carried by the unapologetically “blunt” ‘Americanised’ Nigerian called Eunice Omole?

We had for 18 weeks watched them welcome with zeal the corporate challenges. They had led their teams to victory as project managers and fought for their lives in the boardroom.

King Solomon once saw under the sun that everything is decided by chance. Was luck then to determine the winner tonight? Not easy for sure. And here, Ceo Biodun Shobanjo once again asked the finalists to convince him.

Isaac knew the African terrain better, he said, and had been described by his contemporaries as a “genuine article” and “fantastic leader,” and even likened to Barack Obama.
Eunice said she had worked in prestigious firms and won the plaudits for outstanding performance.

Shobanjo was convinced but the rule of the game dictated that only one of them would be his apprentice. The winner would work for Bank PHB for a year on expansionist projects in the rest of Africa. It was a humongous challenge, he said, but one that had “great prospects.”

In the concluding battle, Eunice lived up to her malicious reputation, accusing Isaac of being an average person who had reached this far by exploiting her skills and those of his competitors. It was very ironical for she had practically relied on the shrewdness of the Ghanaian for their latter victories.

Isaac’s rebuttal was an exposé of her duplicity and lack of integrity as was witnessed in several tasks. He argued that someone who cannot be trusted in smaller matters cannot be entrusted with bigger business. Then rested his case. Eunice’s face turned red with indignation but she had no chance to fight back.

Africa’s finest brains had competed and tonight was the night to pick that someone with a combination of intelligence, street smartness, integrity and ability to relate well with people and manage conflicts. At this point, Shobanjo breathed in – slowly – and a hush descended upon the room.


A joyful din! Congratulatory hugs! An electrifying smile from his wife Linda! Don’t ask me how Eunice took it. All glory was on the first African Apprentice! There he was, with a champ’s poise in between a satisfied Shobanjo and the MD Bank PHB as camera flashes brightened the hall.
For Africa, it was a night to remember!

--Daily Monitor, July 5, 2008