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Monday, July 14, 2008

Shobanjo at crossroads on who to hire


It was a delightful surprise when in entered six ex-apprentice contenders. Ceo Biodun Shobanjo then offered the two finalists a chance to hire three employees each to help out in what would go down in history as the first of the last business task of The Apprentice Africa show.

Eunice Omole hired Tunde, Blessing and Kathleen. Isaac Dankyi-Koranteng hired our own Deox, Regina and Nnamdi. Prior to that, Shobanjo congratulated the two, commending their commitment to excellence and pursuit of their goal to be the first African apprentice.

They had survived boardroom bullets and watched on while their contemporaries dropped off one by one like branches falling off a tree. “The competition has been very challenging emotionally, intellectually, and physically…” he said. It had to be for he was looking “for the true best candidate in Africa.”

The challenge was about creating an event under the theme: Experience Bank PHB. This called for the cutting-edge dynamism associated with Bank PHB. Isaac went for the sparks and hired Nigerian comedian Gbenga Adeyinka to crackup the patrons by way of emceeing.

The joker didn’t disappoint and lured Shobanjo to “step up here and say something”. The big man laughed lightly and obliged. The guests were briefed about the legacy of Bank PHB and the benefits that come with dealing with this prestigious institution.

They ate and drank to their fill. Singer Timi lightened the event further with soulful tunes, and at the end of the day, one lucky man walked away with 20, 000 Naira after winning a raffle game. Meanwhile, the industrious Eunice made guests re-enact the hustle of banking they braved in the past by lining up like primary school pupils at an assembly.

Shobanjo himself was shown in a queue with a legion of others. Then they were shown that with Bank PHB’s finger print-friendly ATMs, they could in a second do business – thanks to a modern computerised and fast system. Eunice’s “e-banking redefined” theme left an impression.

It was boardroom time and Shobanjo first wanted to know how ready they were to live and work in Lagos – a city of “organised chaos.”
“Oh man, there’s no difference between Lagos and Accra. In fact, Lagos will be my home away from home.

My wife is lovely and ready to go with me even to the end of the earth.” He didn’t put it exactly that way but Isaac left no doubt about his readiness to embrace life in Nigeria. And then Eunice said she was young, pretty, single (are the men in the house listening?) and energetic. Besides, her parents stay in Nigeria so relocating from the US was what she was looking forward to.

Shobanjo shooed them away to wait at the reception while he consulted his advisors. Paul and Mimi believed Isaac was the better candidate because he influenced many wins both as a team player and project manager; a “quiet achiever” with “guts and passion to win.” This is when Shobanjo poured out his heart on Eunice, praising her zeal to win and her distaste for failure, saying, “She fights for her life and fights very well and communicates very well.”

But he also agreed that Isaac is “tick, solid and sound” however easy-going he is. It was clear he had reached the crossroads. Who would he hire, who would he reject? The suspense was nerve-wrecking; the winner was not announced. Till next week.

--Daily Monitor, June 28, 2008