By Kunle Adewale
The Group Managing Director/CEO of UAC of Nigeria Plc, Mr Abdul Bello led the way as encomiums poured in on a night of glitz organised by the company to bid farewell to Mr. Larry Ettah, who Bello recently replaced.
Bello described Ettah, who was GMD/CEO for 11 years, as foresighted and commended him for his doggedness at transforming the company, pledging to build on the foundation that already existed in the company.
Bello, who served the UACN Plc in several capacities in his 29 years career and was recently Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer, assured that he would be focused on upholding the companyâ€™s values which have sustained it in its 139 years of contributions to the Nigerian economy.
He asked for the cooperation of all employees and stakeholders to take the company to greater heights despite the challenging economy.
Receiving the baton later from Ettah, Bello said: â€œTo whom much is given much is also expected.Â Itâ€™s a big task and Iâ€™ve received from you today with great passion and I confirm that I will carry on the journey to continue and increase the good pace that youâ€™ve given this organisation; setting us far ahead of others.â€
In his own emotional tribute to Ettah and Joseph Dada, who also recently retired as Executive Director, Corporate Services, the Chairman of UACN Plc, Mr. Dan Agbor recalled that the duo shared the same office in the early days of their ascension through the companyâ€™s management cadre, declaring that they were clear examples of what the company represents.
Agbor further said: â€œI was appointed Chairman of the UAC board in November 2015. The profound impression I took home from my relationship with these departing duo was their encyclopaedic knowledge of the company and its various businesses everywhere I turned.
â€œLarry joined the company as a trainee in 1988 and rose through the ranks, while Dada, who would later become UAC of Nigeria Plcâ€™s first Executive Director, Corporate Services, did not only once share an office at UAC Foods with Larry, they demonstrated a versatility in knowledge and management of the company which is now a worthy legacy to draw inspiration from.â€
Agbor continued: â€œI must say that the company has been blessed by such talented men who everyday of their more than three decadesâ€™Â stay in the company epitomised UAC true core values in customer focus, respect for the individual, integrity, team spirits, humanitarian openness and communication.â€
He said that Ettah and Dada have now joined UAC Groupâ€™s Hall of Fame, which parades distinguished Nigerians, including former Head of Interim Government in Nigeria, Chief Ernest Shonekan; Dr. Christopher Abebe, Mr.Bassey Udo Ndiokho, Mr. Ayo Ajayi, all former helmsmen at UACN Plc; as well as Mrs. Moji Onasanya and Mr. Sola Erunle, both past Executive Directors.
â€œI can only wish them more success in their future endeavours as we work to sustain the professional levels of high standard of integrity and honesty,â€ the UACN Chairman further said.
Responding, Ettah expressed gratitude to colleagues, dignitaries from the corporate, diplomatic and government circles, including the Minister of Budget and National Planning and former Chairman of UACN Plc, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who attended the grand event.
Looking back at his sojourn in UACN Plc, Ettah reminisced that he joined the company â€œas an imperfect young man, but I am leaving as an imperfect but better older man.â€
He explained that all his actions were guided by the principle of leaving the company better than he met it. â€œIn the journey of progress, which we made together, we made choices and changes; some tough, hard, painful but all necessary and in good faith. I give thanks to you for the times I succeeded and my apologies for the times I fell short;â€ he reflected, while soliciting support to his successor.
Ettah said that the Chairman, Board members and management of UACN Plc showed his family and himself great courtesy by putting together the event. â€œIt is indeed wonderful to see men and women I have worked with in the decades gone by hereÂ tonight, some who have mentored me and those of us we mentored; the wonderful colleagues whose support meant so much to me, even those that provided the adult supervision I often needed.â€
He admonished his successor to write his name in gold as he stepped into office. â€œI do personally believe I have written my chapter in stone and my stewardship obligation has been discharged. UAC is an organisation with a rich history and a record of accomplishments. It can still be built to become better, a task Iâ€™m sure my successor will give his all.â€
The highlight of the event was the traditional change of baton from Ettah to Bello to mark the beginning of a new era for the company.