Ngozi Olejeme: The People’s Leader
By the Netherlands Group
There are two types of individuals: those whose names are immediately recognized wherever and whenever they are mentioned because their names ring a bell; those whose names need further thinking to be remembered. Likewise, there are some people who do not need introduction whenever they walk into a place because they are the choice of the people. In Nigeria and beyond, the name Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, do not only ring a bell or need further introduction because it carries a heavy weight and invoke some aura of invincibility. For many, the name Dr. Ngozi Olejeme command fear and respect; yet to others, the name young and old want to identify with. Regardless, Dr. Olejeme, as far as Nigeria is concerned, is a force to reckon with.
With a wealth of experience in business, politics, impeccable record in community services, backed up with enviable philanthropic achievements, it is difficult to know where to start while trying to talk about Dr. Olejeme, a business Mogul with a proven track record of business acumen. She is a living witness of women’s ability and intelligence if and when given an equal opportunity like men. As the Chairman of the board of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF and Trust Fund Pensions, Olejeme has equivocally proved sexists wrong with her managerial shrewdness and ability to deliver.
For those who might consider Dr. Olejeme’s managerial intelligence and ability or numerous achievements at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust fund pensions PLC, a sheer luck or coincidence, the success story of her vast business empire is a convincing testimony of her status as a managerial juggernaut. Whether as the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of ABLE-JES Nigeria Limited, Julind Nigeria Limited, Fresh Energy Nigeria Limited, or member Board of Directors of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Sheraton Hotels and Towers, to mention but a few, Dr. Olejeme, a boardroom guru with impeccable experience, has proved herself an indomitable manager you hardly can ignore. Nor do her records in philanthropy say less. In a culture where many politicians fastidiously enrich themselves at the expense of the poor masses, it is therefore ironic indeed that Olejeme has rather spent a substantial amount of her personal wealth on charity. Her deep involvement in and total commitment to the women and youth causes cannot explain less why she was elected in 1998 as National President of Igbo women forum, an NGO deeply rooted in charitable work aimed towards women and youth empowerment. Her various Widowhood Projects try to redress social – economic cum cultural challenges facing widows through empowerment and grants for trade. In a patriarchal society where women have less access to power, leadership positions and decision making process, the efforts of Dr. Olejeme to empower women must be commended; a productive women’s group is tantamount to a progressive society.
Nicknamed in certain quarters a dynamic, visionary leader with a heart of gold, Dr. Ngozi Olejeme, born in Asaba, Delta state of Nigeria is an extraordinary leader every serious minded country is yelling for. An embodiment of beauty and intelligence, Dr. Ngozi Olejeme who started from a humble beginning, steadily rose through hard work and total commitment to a charismatic leader. As a leader who can stand firmly for the cause of those she leads, Dr. Olejeme has diligently demonstrated that leadership quality involves tireless services. Dr. Olejeme, an unapologetic human rights activist and nationalist, has left a lasting imprint in the Nigerian political arena. During the dangerous military regime of late General Sanni Abacha (1993-1998) when many Nigerians fearfully withdrew into their cocoons, while others turned sycophants, Olejeme on the other hand, defiantly challenged the dictator on human rights records and corruption and sensitized many women on their rights. Partly, her political agitation gave birth to democracy in Nigeria. But as a tireless visionary leader, the return of democracy did not end her dreams and campaign for a better Nigeria.
Starting with ensuring that the infrastructures in different organizations meet acceptable safety standard, as the chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, Olejeme bullishly fought for the workers of the organization. She single-handedly pushed for the provision of compensation for Nigerian workers, both in public and private sectors. But Dr. Olejeme did not sit down in celebration of her achievement fighting for the betterment of the workers at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund. Rather, her passion for the workers’ welfare pushed her to lobby tirelessly for the enactment of the bill (the Nigeria Employee Compensation Bill) that would provide financial compensation for workers in case of injury, poor health or death. While one commends President Jonathan of Nigeria for signing the bill in 2011 into law, praises must go to the arrowhead and mahogany behind the bill, Dr. Ngozi
Olejeme, who has demonstrated once again that national services do not necessarily mean personal enrichment and aggrandizement; rather they mean serious honesty steadfastness and commitment. Indeed, Olejeme communicated an inspiring vision and lived it, valued people and gave them a voice.
Dr. Olejeme has received uncountable rewards and recognitions in Nigeria and abroad for her selfless services and contribution to the betterment of her beloved country, Nigeria. Apart from being an alumnus of many reputable universities, amongst them Harvard Business School, University of Cambridge, Wharton Business School, to mention just a few, Dr. Olejeme has been awarded more than 12 Honorary Doctoral Degree in recognition of her tremendous services to the powerless.
Does any right thinking patriotic Nigerian question why Mrs. Olejeme should not only be appreciated but applauded and rewarded?
Sadly, Dr. Olejeme indeed got her “reward” – albeit in a Nigerian way. On October 22, 2013 a bomb explosion, suspected to have been planted by those who are uncomfortable with her political influence, caused extensive damage to her residential house in her hometown Asaba. Some argued that the bomb was a clear warning from those corrupt politicians or individuals who might have felt rattled by her influence and glamorous accomplishments; others interpreted the bombing as a sign of weakness and desperation from her political enemies who are uncomfortable with the genuine love the local community has for her due to her enormous services to them. Regardless, time have shown that neither a bomb, nor any conspiracy can stop Olejeme from the dedicated services for her people; nor will the good people of Nigeria and Delta state succumb to any kind of intimidation, having in mind that the likes of Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme are a rare breed in Africa.
Definitely, in the present day Africa, where corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency amongst the leaders have deterred much needed development and created unnecessary inequality, does one need a prophet to understand why an average man on the street is seriously agitating to have a visionary leader with a wealth of experience like Dr.. Ngozi Olejeme who they truly believe will bring meaningful changes in their lives?
No doubt, Dr. Olejeme, the dynamic leader with a heart of gold has indeed become an essential commodity everyone who has the interest of Nigeria at heart will do everything to have.
The Netherlands Group is a group of Nigerians in Europe