By Kenneth Jukpor
Mrs. Chizoba Anyika is an Assistant Director, Shipping Development, Apapa Port at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). She is also the Secretary of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria and the Publicity Secretary for the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration (CIoTA) Nigeria.
Anyika was one of the United Nation’s Generation Amazons celebrated by MMS WoFHoF recently. At the event, she granted this interview to MMS Plus newspaper as she speaks on a wide range of issues. Enjoy it:
How do you feel as one of the women celebrated here as a UN Generation Amazon?
Today’s a very great day for me as a woman and as a person who loves the idea of celebrating women. It is very important for women to be recognized and women are here in their numbers to show support to one another and encourage themselves. We deal with so many things and combine multiple roles at the home, workplace and academics, among others. Nevertheless, women are made in such a way that they can multitask. I believe women should be in the forefront in this drive to build one another and I consider it a privilege to be one of the amazons to receive today’s award because it means a lot to me.
There are many younger women that are unemployed that need guidance, direction, and need to be told what it takes to be successful by women who have been successful themselves. From my experience, I can be able to bring them up and admonish them to be resilient and know that they can actually get things done.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic this year, I became the WISTA Nigeria Secretary and there were lots of challenges because the competition was very intense. I knew that I couldn’t afford to be complacent especially when it comes to getting a platform where I could upgrade. So, every woman needs a platform to operate, be it in the church where you find yourself with other young girls or women or in the office where you have mentees to guide or in an association like WISTA. It is important to have this mindset of aspiring to be a better version of yourself and be willing to take on responsibilities.
At any point you find yourself serving, decide to be the one to bring positive changes in the system. This is very important but you have to be in a position to serve first. If you’re not in service, you can hardly be involved and you need to be fully involved to make an impact or to make the desired change.
Women have to overcome the challenge of work pressure, home obligations and other issues. How can they strike the balance so no aspect of their duties suffers?
The secret is to strike the balance between your career and your home. One key thing is to have a supporting partner. If you have a spouse that believes in your vision, this challenge becomes less cumbersome. For instance, I’m a Christian; my husband supports me wholeheartedly in everything I do. Nevertheless, I don’t neglect my duties at home. If I attempt to itemize everything I do in the morning before I run off to work, it would be impossible. I wake up by 4:30am every day because I set my alarm. I go to the kitchen everyday despite having someone helping me in the house.
Women must strike a very good balance to be able to take care of the home, and take care of their work or intended career. It is also important to note that women actually have to work twice as hard as the men because this has become the norm and a natural way of life. Men are made differently, women have their monthly cycles coming off; they have to keep the family together and also have to stay nine months to deliver children.
The Chief Host of the occasion, Barr. (Mrs.) Margaret Orakwusi earlier tasked Nigerian women to take up the onus of maintaining peace and order in the country. How crucial is this task?
Women are naturally peacemakers. I totally agree with her that we should see ourselves playing that role. I can use myself as an example. I am the only female in the midst of five men in my home. I’m like the balance and the peacemaker when I’m among the men. When they have misunderstandings that could lead to a fight I intervene and when I talk to them even the older ones listen and respect me.
Ideally, every woman should have this role in the society. A woman is a peacemaker because she is naturally made in such a way that she is endowed with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. These are some natural gifts that God has given to women to enable to know how to relate with people and utilize these feminine traits to bring about peace in the society. Women shouldn’t join in causing problems especially when the men start fighting. It is truly the place of the woman to bring about peace.
Having attained the level of an Assistant Director in NIMASA, can you to share thoughts with younger women who aspire to attain such career growth in public service or private organizations?
Well, it has not been easy in climbing the ladder of success but one of my guiding principles for one to remain relevant in the system is to be the best on the job. You have to know your task, your schedules and delivery and be at the peak and perfect. Abiding by these would ensure that you can be relevant because there is competition at every ladder of success.
The competition is not between women alone but also with the men who don’t go through as much challenges or home duties. Currently, I am doing training at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), I have also applied for my PhD and that doesn’t mean I must stop at this point because one needs to be able to have an edge over others. It is also important that when given an assignment you must go extra mile in making sure the assignment is carried out successfully.
If your boss knows that you will deliver on a job without supervision, the issue of gender will not come to play. They will just give you the responsibility because you can deliver, not because you’re a woman. So, my advice to the younger ones in career growth is to strive to excel on every assignment they are given.
They shouldn’t have to play the gender card to get opportunities but they should seek to be the best among the bunch. Nobody gets anything tangible by playing the gender card, you must be the best, you must strive to maintain personnel development and always appraise your personal development yearly.
You must add something to yourself so that when the opportunity comes you are best positioned for the role. You must be able to take steps to develop yourself and not only depend on the training that you would get through your organization. You must invest in yourself and be willing to spend your money to be trained. This training would ensure that you can have an edge and always remain relevant.
On the upcoming 2nd CIOTA National Transport Summit, what should the transport sector expect?
CIOTA is now chartered; this means there is a new level in the game. Now, all the stakeholders have to be on their toes. CIOTA is the body that regulates the transportation industry and the Institute is out to collaborate with all the stakeholders in the Ministry of Transportation, or the MDAs across all the modes. It is no longer business as usual for transport sector. It is going to be a massive event.
A former Nigerian Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Rtd.) is expected to chair the summit which takes place in Abuja from December 1st to December 3rd, 2020.
The summit is also an opportunity to build on the gains of the maiden edition which held in December 2019, and the areas of focus this year spans across rail network, highways and bridges, deep seaports, airports concessioning, among others.
There are enormous challenges in the efforts towards developing the transportation sector in the country, including; funding, public-private partnerships (PPP) arrangements institution building, among others. The summit will address these issues, using the expertise and rich industrial experience of the speakers, discussants, and active audience participation.
It is going to be a huge event with the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello and the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, expected as Special Guests of Honour at event.
What are your expectations for the next five years with regards to women holding key positions in the transport sector and the Nigerian society at large?
Well, looking at key roles women are playing in the society especially in the maritime industry, you would agree with me that we have some great women in the sector. For instance, Barr. (Mrs.) Mfon Usoro when she was the Director General of NIMASA, she was outstanding. It was under her regime that I was able to get sponsorship to go Cardiff University to have my Masters degree in Marine Policy. This is a woman that builds others and her contribution to the growth of this sector has been massive. Look at Barr. (Mrs.) Margaret Orakwusi. She is the chairperson, Nigerian Ship-owners Forum and she is someone that has contributed a lot in the industry. These women are highly recognized and respected and I aspire to be like them because they are builders and role models. Gradually, as we follow them and key into their vision, the way they do things and their contributions to the industry and nation building, we can match their impact and possibly surpass it. It is also our responsibility to pass what we learnt from them to those below us as we mentor them in the right direction.
So, we look up to these amazons. We are the younger or emerging amazons but there will also be other women coming after us. We need to be good models showing good examples to them, and then be able to mentor them. We have lots of resource persons that could be tapped from and when you call them out to teach they won’t charge. Most times, they come forward to share their valuable experiences that can’t be purchased in any market.
Lastly, what are your words of advice for the organizers of the event, MMS WoFHoF Initiative?
The organizer, MMS WoFHoF Initiative is an excellent outfit known for excellence and perfection. You saw the number of people that turned out despite the traffic on the roads and the COVID-19 scare. People made sure they attended this programme and they got here early so that they didn’t miss one aspect of the event.
So, I’m happy to be linked to this organization. I pray that God keeps pushing them forward, they should keep doing what they know how to do best because the organization is very professional in the way they do things.
Others are copying especially in the industry but the organization has a way of standing out because there is always a touch of excellence and ideas with MMS. The level of creativity cannot be looked down on.