By Okuneye Moyosola
Nana Yakubu is the Assistant General Manager, New Business Development in the Public Private Partnership Division of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). After the MMS Hall of Famers’ Day and Night of Empowerment, Nana was interviewed by MMS Plus newspaper where she stressed the need for government to encourage more women to participate actively in leadership positions. Enjoy it:
Please tell us about yourself ma?
My name is Nana Yakubu and I am a lawyer by profession. I have worked in NPA for over 35 years. There have been a lot of challenges but the job has been great for me and the experience has been worthwhile. NPA is good organization to work with because you will be sure to learn a lot of things. From the legal department, I went to Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and I must say it’s quite a different experience totally. Now, I deal with both legal and business issues.
How has it been for you as a woman at the Authority?
I have never had any challenges in fairness. By the grace of God it has always been easy for me. When I came into NPA, I just finished my Youth Service (NYSC). I never really wanted to work; I wanted to go into business like my father. My father insisted that I must work and that’s how I joined NPA. My father was one of the contractors at NPA. I have worked in Tin Can Island Port, Lagos Port Complex, and Roro ports. It has been very interesting as I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and gotten to know about the shipping world. As at the time I started working in NPA, most women were not into the shipping business but recently a lot of women have started coming into the maritime profession which is quite impressive.
We have women that are cadets, engineers, captains and doctors but some women have the notion that shipping is a business for the men. What is your opinion about this?
We need to encourage such women especially the younger ones. For instance, a young girl came to my office recently. She had worked with Cable News Network (CNN) and I was impressed with the way she spoke. She is a very intelligent girl and should be in her late twenties. She is out there getting interviews to change the image of Nigeria. She noticed that Nigeria is only known for bad things so she decided to correct that impression and showcase positive things about the country. I was thrilled to meet a young lady with such mindset.
We need to encourage young girls like that to come into the maritime industry. The women too are capable of working in the shipping industry. When you look at a woman like Princess Vicky Haastrup, the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium and Chairman, Sea Ports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), as a lady you can be inspired by her exploits in the industry. She is one person that I really admire and she has given me the courage to strive to achieve more.
The Managing Director of NPA has also been fantastic. She came into NPA and within a month, she was able to understand all aspects of the Authority and take steps to make daring changes and challenge the status quo. If she was not given the opportunity, her talent would have been a waste.
Nigerian government should encourage women to come out. We have a lot of intelligent women that can be of great help to the industry and the nation at large. The women who have amassed valuable experience in the maritime sector should also be mentors to others and encourage younger women to step up and be counted as heroines.
In the near future, what are the roles that the women can play in politics and other aspects of the society?
Firstly, I am not impressed in the outcome of the 2019 general elections because a lot of women were not involved. In the Senate and House of Assembly, the women are not many. Some women are also faced with challenges such as lack of funds, pressure from the family and the general believe that a particular position is for men. For example, in Kogi state, Natasha Akpoti came out for the Senate and she won but some forces prevented her from realizing her goal. At the end of the day, the position was given to a man. I feel that women should be given more opportunities. Contrary to the popular belief, women are not competing with men. In the near future, women would go a long way and they would achieve a lot.
In Nigeria, the government’s business enterprises have been poorly managed. So what opportunities do we have in the new PPP (Public Private Partnership) arrangements in the country?
Nigeria is just trying to come up with PPP despite the fact that other countries have been doing it for years. Under the President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, there has been more emphasis on PPP. There is the need to invite the private sector into the public sector enterprises to become partners. More people are coming into the joint ventures and more people are bringing in proposals so the awareness is increasing and people are aware of the opportunities. I am also hopeful that in the future, most of the PPP project will eventually materialize and the nation would be better for it.
We are celebrating women today at this event, what can you say about this laudable initiative?
The Managing Director of Kings Communications, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke is a very unique publisher. He has women’s interest at heart and I am sure that he will go a long way with this initiative and all other endeavours. I encourage him to continue his good works. When he informed me about the award, I was reluctant because I am a shy person. This award will encourage me to work hard and I have MMS Plus newspaper to thank for this.
Who is your role model?
My role model is Margaret Thatcher. I always love to read things about her and I aspire to be like her. The Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman is also another person that I admire so much and she has been a source of encouragement to many women. I also read a lot of inspirational books and watch documentaries about women too. When I see these things, I draw my inspiration from them.