Adejoju Ajagunna is the Head of Customer Service at Jumia Nigeria. In this interview, she spoke extensively on the challenges of working in the COVID-19 era, balancing the roles as a career woman and mother, and the equal opportunity for career growth at the e-commerce company. Excerpts:
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means inspiration where I am inspired to dare and to do more. A day where every female gender irrespective of our profession or status is recognized globally, a day where it is important to celebrate the success and growth of every woman, one who has been able to conquer, who has been able to stand for her rights and explore the full potential of herself with no restriction to any obstacle.
We need to celebrate every gender called “WOMAN” as the world appreciates our hard work, resilience, struggles, wins and achievements, a day the world stands for “US” and reflects on the impact we have made in society. Officially a day that is devoted in celebration of all women but to me, every day is IWD because we create magic always
How has COVID-19 affected your role in Jumia since the pandemic started?
2020 has been the most challenging and daring of my 8 years in Jumia where opportunities were explored and we had to transition to a new normal by activating work from home in our attempt to ensure our consumers do not lack general essential and food supply due to restriction in the movement for most parts of the country.
In the beginning, it was a struggle supporting the team to suddenly change the dynamics of how we use to work by commencing remote working and adapting to the new tools.
Some of our team members were not sure if this was going to be possible or if we could achieve our number one goal of ‘winning the love of our customers in a pandemic where few of our processes had to be reviewed by ensuring all COVID-19 guidelines were adhered to.
The pandemic has brought about CHANGE where alternate channels of a new work-lifestyle are continuously being integrated without compromising the JUMIA standard. With all of these, I had to ensure we give time for the new learning curve, adequate support for onboarding and mastering of the new normal as we are the Jumia ambassadors
What are the challenges you’ve encountered in your career as a woman and how did you overcome it?
Well, most of my challenges came in my early stages of taking up a leadership role especially with managing the largest team where women are the largest team members, it was not easy managing the diversity of all types of human with the mindset that my processor was male as such it was expected that the role should be dominated by the male gender.
So, what I did was, I wore the shoes of the male gender and walked the walk by keeping the momentum and turning around the situation in taking up the mantle of leadership. It was also difficult to balance the curve of attaining a leadership role and being an awesome mum to my children especially when they were toddlers who could not understand why I could not be present for storytime in their schools and feel saddened by my unavailability but I have been able to create time at the homefront while I make it up to them in creating that schooling atmosphere at home by playing & learning which is moulding their values to create opportunities when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade out of it.
How will you say Jumia is contributing to the growth/development of female staff?
There are several ways Jumia contributes to the development of her female staff, one of such initiatives used in promoting gender equality in the provision of mentor programs which helps to guide us through any challenge in the course of our career without any gender exclusion.
We also have the opportunity of the women forum where we all come together to discuss business, obstacles, opportunities and work-life balance and honestly, it has been engaging and rewarding as you see staff from all levels relate and share learnings, I would say, it’s always a way to learn, relearn & unlearn.
What impact has gender equality made on your life and work?
Jumia is an organization that allows you to explore opportunities as long as you can earn them by hard work and a lot of positive push. One of our core values “You don’t need a title to a leader” allows equal rights amongst all which genuinely values your contribution and supports you to grow even as a woman.
Most of the C-levels in Jumia are women who in one way or the other have contributed to the immense growth of the business. Jumia has promoted equality as every opinion counts irrespective of your sex or level.
What female figure motivates you?
Actually, there are two particular female figures that inspire me: one is African while the other is American. The question for me is why these two women inspire me: they are women who have made good use of the opportunities around them with a powerful resilience not to stop but continue to ensure that their achievements continue to impact the lives of women especially the young & upcoming ones.
The first figure is Chimamanda Adichie who is a Nigerian, a writer of short stories & novels, I am stuck on one of her quotes ‘When there is true equality, resentment does not exist.’
My second female figure is Hilary Clinton; a politician. Both women are an inspiration to me because of their strong will and confidence level, I admire their courage in how they have done things differently.
What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting her career?
There is so much pressure from the world out there where our young women are not sure of who they are or what they stand for, which sometimes makes them lose priority and focus.
However, my message to young women out there and generally to women “Be YOU…Be ENOUGH”: fuel your passion, making mistakes is allowed, it does not stop you from achieving your goals but in the end, you learn from it and this makes you a better woman. Make sure you work hard and have fun by celebrating your achievements and giving yourself a pat on the back.
Apprehension Over AMCON MD’s Visit to EFCC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The visit of the Managing Director of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru, to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already causing apprehension.
Mr Kuru was reportedly grilled by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday after he was invited by the organisation for questioning.
Already, it is being speculated that his ordeal with the EFCC may be connected with the plans by AMCON to name and shame chronic debtors, who took loans from commercial banks but refused to repay as promised.
Yesterday, the AMCON MD was grilled by the agency over allegations bordering on the diversion of assets and the sale of the properties to his associates at ridiculous prices.
According to reports, Mr Kuru allegedly sold properties valued at billions of naira belonging to Atlantic to another despite a court case on the assets.
Atlantic was accused of loan default with Skye Bank and the properties in collateral were seized and allegedly sold below the prevailing market value while the action was instituted in court.
Amid these accusations, the EFCC is yet to comment at the time of filing this report.
AMCON is an agency set up by the federal government to acquire all toxic loans of commercial banks, with the aim of recovering them.
In November 2021, the agency submitted a list containing its top 1,000 obligors owing N4.4 trillion to the National Assembly.
Mr Kuru had said with the support of the parliament and the Judiciary, recovering the total current exposure on all Eligible Bank Asset (EBAs), which stands at N4.4 trillion, may be possible before the sunset period.
He had lamented that more recently, due to the socio-economic downturn, the market values of assets have significantly reduced, lower than the valuation at the point of EBAs purchase, making it extremely difficult to consummate sales transactions.
“To enable AMCON to succeed in its national call to duty, AMCON solicits the continued support of this Distinguished Committee. The Judiciary must be encouraged to respect the provisions of the law that require them to fast-track cases before them, issue certificates of judgement on properties, which the Corporation has no collateral and demand debtors to deposit Judgment sum before proceeding to appeal any judgement,” he had stated.
NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.
This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.
He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.
This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.
In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.
The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.
He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.
“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.
“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.
“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.
“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.
The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.
“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.
“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.
“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.
Senate Re-amends Electoral Bill, Okays Direct, Indirect, Consensus Primaries
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which passed by the National Assembly on November 18, 2021, and sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent but was rejected, has been re-amended.
The President declined assent to the bill because the parliament inserted a clause that makes it mandatory for political parties to elect candidates for elections only through direct primaries.
On Wednesday, the Senate adjusted this clause and approved direct, indirect primaries or consensus as to the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions.
The upper chamber of the legislative arm of government, in a statement signed by Mr Ezrel Tabiowo, the Special Assistant on Press to Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, said the recommended Clause 84(3) was also approved.
The section stated that “a political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.”
Clause 84(4) further provides that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below; (a) In the case of nominations to the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each State Capital on specified dates.”
The clause provides that a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes.
The amendment followed a motion for its re-commital to the Committee of the Whole, which was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi.
In his presentation, the lawmaker noted that the rationale for Mr Buhari withholding assent bordered on his observation in Clause 84.
President Buhari in the letter dated December 13, 2021, and addressed to Mr Lawan had explained that his decision to withhold assent to the electoral bill was informed by advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government after a thorough review.
According to the President, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.
He added that it would also impact negatively on the rights of citizens to participate in government as constitutionally ensured.
Mr Abdullahi, however, explained that the motion for re-commital of the bill to the Committee on the Whole was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr President C-in-C and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended).”
Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected clause of the bill as passed and recommitted same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.
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