Dr. Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s pioneer Communications Technology Minister, has joined technology industry leaders to pay tributes to Dr. Eugene Juwah, the nation’s former telecoms regulatory chief, who died this month.
Dr. Juwah, immediate past Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who held office from July 2010 to August 2015, died on Saturday, October 10, this year in Canada, according to reports.
Dr. Johnson, who is now Senior Partner TLcom Capital LLP, and who served as the CommTech Minister when Dr. Juwah was EVC of NCC, expressed shock at the news of the demise of the former telecoms regulatory chief of Nigeria.
“It was with a sense of shock and great sadness that I received the news of the passing of Dr. Eugene Juwah a few days ago”, Dr. Johnson tells Technology Times in a tribute to the late telecoms regulatory chief.
Dr Eugene Juwah, ‘a great loss to Communication and Technology industry in Nigeria’
According to her, “Dr. Juwah was the Executive Vice Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission during my tenure as the Honourable Minister of Communication Technology from 2011 to 2015.
“I enjoyed a good professional relationship with Dr. Juwah and benefited greatly from his experience and counsel on issues that affected the industry from both policy and regulatory perspectives. We worked closely and successfully together on many strategic projects, including Nigeria’s first national broadband plan, and I could always count on his support as we collaborated to enhance the performance of Nigeria’s digital economy”, the former CommTech Minister says.
Dr. Johnson says that Dr. Juwah’s demise “is a great loss to the communication and technology industry in Nigeria. His expertise and experience will be greatly missed.”
She also prays that “God will comfort his immediate and indeed his extended family of the communication technology industry and grant us all the grace to bear this loss.”
Mr. Michael Ikpoki, who was MTN Nigeria CEO when Dr. Juwah was EVC, tells Technology Times that the news of his passage came as a shock to him while reminiscing on the working relationship he had with the telecoms regulator on his watch as head of the nation’s largest mobile network operator.
Ikpoki, who is now CEO, Africa Context Advisory Partners, recalls that “during my time as CEO of MTN Nigeria, I had the pleasure of interacting with the late Engr. Eugene Juwah, who was at the time, the EVC at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
“The very day I resumed the role, I called the EVC to informally introduce myself before the formal meeting. He was very appreciative of the call and assured me of his full support and cooperation. He did exactly that in so many ways and on several occasions”, Ikpoki says.
The former MTN Nigeria CEO recalls that Dr. Juwah “exhibited candour and professionalism in his regulatory responsibilities over the telecoms Industry. We had a very open cordial and friendly but professional relationship.
“Even in instances where we disagreed, he was firm and fair in balancing the sometimes competing interests in the Industry. While I cannot divulge details on this, he was a strong champion and defender of the industry within Government circles”, he adds.
According to Ikpoki, “I never had the opportunity to thank him personally for his kind support in that period as I lost contact with him over the years only to hear of his sad demise last week. May his soul rest in peace as I sympathize with his family, friends, and colleagues in the Industry.”
Mr. Gerald C. Ilukwe, who was MD of Galaxy Backbone, the Federal Government-owned IT services firm, when Dr. Juwah was NCC EVC, tells Technology Times that “I received the shocking and sad news of Dr. Juwah’s demise on the morning of Monday, 11th October 2021. Since then he’s been in and out of mind as I reminisce on the multiple facets of our relationship.”
Dr Eugene Juwah ‘understood intersection of telecoms and software’
Ilukwe, who is now Special Adviser to Governor Nasir Ahmad El- Rufai of Kaduna State on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Kaduna State, says “we first met in 1993 when he was a General Manager, an oga, in MTS and I was a young Systems Engineer. MTS was Nigeria’s first mobile telephony operator.
“Over the years our friendship and professional interaction grew as we became close personal and family friends and professional colleagues.”
He recalls further that “we found ourselves in public service in NCC and Galaxy Backbone when he was appointed EVC as I was commencing my second term in office as MD respectively in 2010.
“He wasn’t a man who kept many friends and consistent with his personality he relocated quietly to Canada at the expiration of his tenure in 2015. He was a dedicated family man and spoke a lot about his wife, Priscilla, and his sons, Goziem and Emeka.”
Recalling Dr. Juwah’s years at NCC, Ilukwe says that “over the years I found him to be a professional who was confident in his intellect and always keen to break new frontiers.
“The industry will remember him as someone who truly understood telecoms and the growing intersection with software and value-added services.”
Ilukwe’s prayer for Dr. Juwah is for God to “receive him in heaven and strengthen his family.”
In an obituary announcement jointly signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, and Mr. Usman Malah, Human Capital and Administration Director at NCC, the management of the Commission say that on Juwah’s watch as EVC, “the telecoms industry witnessed steady growth that impacted positively on the social and economic development of the country.”