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The Guardian’s Special Focus on Nigeria’s Most Outstanding and Impactful Women in Leadership

By Guardian Nigeria
04 October 2022   |   7:09 am
SADIYA UMAR FAROUQ: Resourceful Administrator, Raising The Bar Of Productivity, Excellence At The Federal Ministry Of Humanitarians Affairs, Disaster Management, Social Development.  She is a woman of substance who can never be ignored in the rollcall of Nigerians whose professional engagements and exemplary lifestyle have helped in raising the bars of productivity and excellence. Certainly,…

HAJIYA SADIYA UMAR FAROUQ, Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development

SADIYA UMAR FAROUQ: Resourceful Administrator, Raising The Bar Of Productivity, Excellence At The Federal Ministry Of Humanitarians Affairs, Disaster Management, Social Development. 

She is a woman of substance who can never be ignored in the rollcall of Nigerians whose professional engagements and exemplary lifestyle have helped in raising the bars of productivity and excellence. Certainly, she serves as a guide to many young ladies in the nation’s government and public sector within the last few years and still serving. 

A record–maker with uncommon dedication to the effective implementation of the mandate of the Ministry Of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management And Social Development, Nigeria. 

Building her reputation with competence and integrity Madam Sadiya Umar Farouq is equipped with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and two Masters Degrees from the same institution in Business Administration and International Affairs and respectively

Sadiya Umar Farouq commenced her career as an administrative officer at the National Assembly Commission. She has multi-disciplinary qualifications and working experience in Administration, Finance, Humanitarian Affairs, Training and Manpower Development and Politics.

Her political journey started with her membership of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), where she held the post of National Treasurer and she effectively and efficiently managed the campaign funds for the party. Following the merger of CPC, ANPP and ACN which metamorphosed into All Progressives Congress (APC) she was appointed the interim National Treasurer of APC. In that position, she did not only demonstrate prudent financial management, she also promoted financial transparency and accountability.

Sadiya Umar Farouq also played a critical role in the 2015 Presidential Campaign following her membership of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, which eventually took over the government from the then incumbent.

A true representation of the amazing inner strength, resilience and nurturing nature of Women, Sadiya Umar Farouq has against all odds remained focused and has risen to enviable heights in her career, she remains a true and worthy role model for millions of women in Nigeria and across the African Continent.

Talking about her Appointment as Honourable Minister Her appointment as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development is a demonstration of the confidence reposed in her to deliver on the mandate by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. The leadership, experience, commitment to duty, patriotism as well as organizational, interpersonal skills and teamwork she brought to bear in previous assignments are not in doubt and stand her out as the perfect choice for the job. As Honourable Minister she provides leadership in the development of humanitarian policies and the effective coordination of National and International humanitarian interventions; ensures strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response; and manages the formulation and implementation of fair focused social inclusion and protection programmes in Nigeria in line with the Ministry’s mandate. The mandate of the Ministry covers a wide range of issues that deal directly with the social and economic well-being of the people of Nigeria. As a peak performer who delivers results with dignity and consistency. She has remained focused on finding sustainable and innovative solutions to humanitarian, disaster and social development challenges that affect people and communities in Nigeria. Farouq has since her appointment initiated and engaged in programmes and activities that provide a solid foundation for the Ministry and put in place viable and sustainable structures to drive the seamless and efficient delivery of the Ministry’s mandate leaving no one in doubt that she is competent and passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. 

Before her appointment as a minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq has a track record as an Honourable Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) since September 2016. On assumption of duty, as the Honourable Federal Commissioner, Sadiya Umar Farouq immediately drew up a new Strategic Roadmap of action to reposition the Commission to take the leading role as Nigeria’s humanitarian organization and bring the Commission’s activities to world standard. The new Strategic Roadmap of the Commission focused on the total provision of durable solutions to Persons of Concern while emphasizing the establishment of standardized procedures for utilizing Research, Data Gathering & Planning for Resettling, Rehabilitating, Reintegrating and Readmitting all persons that fall within the purview of her office. Her tenure as Honourable Commissioner, witnessed extensive systems strengthening. She engaged local and international stakeholders and adopted a holistic approach to building and maintaining partnerships from the bottom up. 

The certified change manager, a dynamic woman with uncommon achievements, Sadiya Umar Farouq has been active in advocating for Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equity and women’s inclusion in so many ways, some of which are; She has ensured fair inclusion of women in all the Social Investment Programmers’ of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, with women making up 99% of the 126,000 benefitting cooks for the NHGSFP, 94% of the almost 2million beneficiaries for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), 54.3% of GEEP beneficiaries and more than 25% of N Power beneficiaries. The GEEP 2.0 has been redesigned and now has only female petty traders, and heads of families as beneficiaries of the Marketmoni. Through these interventions, many Nigerian Women have been able to start and boost businesses and have been lifted out of poverty.

Sadiya Umar Farouq implemented the Cash Grant for Rural Women, across the 36 States including FCT. The second phase of the programme is currently being implemented as Cash Grant for Vulnerable Persons targeting women, older persons and persons with disabilities. The programme has proven to be beneficial as many of the beneficiaries have put the grant to good use, and currently have a means of livelihood. Her commitment to empowering vulnerable Nigerians in line with President Muhammadu Bihari’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty by 2030 remains unflinching. 

Her Achievements as the Honorable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and social development include a number of policies that have been developed and others are at various stages of development to ensure a seamless humanitarian response, disaster mitigation and risk reduction as well as equitable social intervention. The policies are; Revised National Disability Policy 2019, National Policy on ageing, National Migration policy, National Disaster Risk Management policy, National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons, National Flood and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, Cash and Voucher Assistant Policy (ongoing)Under Umar Farouq’s leadership the Ministry has also developed the Civil-Security Cooperation (CiSEC) in Humanitarian Interventions to effectively tackle issues of access, coordination and communication between humanitarian actors and security sector towards the seamless delivery of humanitarian action to the vulnerable. Since its adoption, the structures within the CiSEC framework have tackled and resolved critical humanitarian issues, assessed and prioritized options for access to the humanitarian community and provided an ecosystem for stakeholders to collaboratively develop policies for the coordination of humanitarian action in Nigeria. 

Under Sadiya Umar Farouq’s leadership, the Ministry developed a humanitarian response framework that will focus on the work needed to coherently address people’s vulnerability before, during and after crises in line with global best practices. The Ministry presented the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus and Localization framework at the World Humanitarian Day on the 19th of August, 2021. It is a community-based approach toward peacebuilding and sustainable national development. 

The National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) was created by the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration with an emphasis on addressing the challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable, especially the youth and women. 

So far the NSIP has recorded the following;

  1. Npower has directly trained and engaged 1,500,000 nationwide;
  2. GEEP has recorded a soft loans delivery quantum of 2.6 million beneficiaries, and currently, an additional 2 million beneficiaries are being finalised;
  3. Under the NHGSFP, a total of 9.8 million children are being fed daily on school days nationwide, while 126,000 people are engaged as cooks
  4. A total of 2,000,000 poor and vulnerable households are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer.

DR. MRS. MARY ALILE, Proprietress, Jenas Montessori International School

MARY ALILE: A Woman Of Substance, Distinguished By Competence And Undeniable Integrity

The personality of this distinguished academician has been explained in different ways by a different group of people who have benefited from her altruistic lifestyle.  Dr Mrs Mary Alile,  Proprietress, Jenas Montessori International School, is seen as an impactful and amiable mentor by many, for her contemporaries in the academic community, she is synonymous with dedication, due process and excellent and for others, she’s an apostle of merit and professionalism.  

The resourceful educationist, entrepreneur and politician are one of the women of substance who have become a shining light among today’s women in leadership in different sectors of the Nigerian economy. Popularly called Capacity by her admirers, her dedication of part of her time and resources towards increasing the number of believers in Christ, as a Parish Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the United Kingdom, and her passion for education and commitment to the empowerment of the girl child and women have continued to put her name on the lips of many people, 

On what informed her altruistic engagements, she said: “ I think because of my family background, I saw a lot of tribulations, a workload that so many women go through in life. I saw a lot of cultural discrimination, especially in Africa that affects women, and those are the factors that propelled me o say that I really want to support women and particularly the girl child. That makes my decision on owning an NGO and coupled with the fact that I travelled wide enough in my early years where I saw life being very easy regardless of gender, religion, or tribe in other places. That also motivated me to think that there should be something that I could do to contribute in y way to elevate poverty out of the life of youth in general and that’s what I have been doing for so many years now”.

Hardworking and visionary, Mary Alile left the shores of Nigeria for Sweden in 1990 in pursuit of Education. She completed her A Level in Oskarsharm Gymnasiet In malmo, Sweden and immediately processed to malmo university where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in social science. She later furthered her education at a university in the united state of America where she obtained a Master’s degree. Apart from those, she also acquired professional diplomas from Middlesex University, London and Birmingham Metropolitan University. Passionate about knowledge acquisition, she also acquired a Doctorate degree from the University of Louisiana in 2019.  

Mary has worked in the Malmo City Council in Sweden in the occupational staff training department training managers on ethnic relations. She later worked in different companies as a manager in the care sector. Mary landed a prestigious role in the famous United Kingdom NHS health sector as a care manager for end-of-life care with a focus on the ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom. She resigned from this role in 2013 to start her own health and social care company called Living Glory Social Care Ltd that have employed numerous people in the United Kingdom.

Distinguished by her competence, she has sustained her reputation with integrity and commitment to the betterment of the lives of women and girls. Concerned about the condition of several women in Nigeria and beyond, she has brought succour to many of them through her Sister to Sister Initiative. Established in 2015, the Mary Alile-owned NGO is in operation in 9 countries across Africa and Europe, and it has provided women and girls with loans and grants, educational materials and scholarships, health education and vocational training.

According to her, “The harsh economy in Nigeria is almost unbearable for the majority of Nigerian women and girls, today we still have families who cannot meet the basic needs for their children, like a good school, food, clothes, many can’t even provide a three square meal per day for their children. And when you look at who takes this huge bunch load of struggle, you find out that the majority are women. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic period in 2020 when people were afraid and couldn’t go out, it was still these women we saw in the markets trying to meet up by putting food on the table for the children, doing what they needed to do to survive. These women can do better with assistance and empowerment, and that is what Sister to Sister Initiative has been doing”

Assessing the performance of women in leadership in Nigeria, The National Leader of Ohrionwon LGA in Edo State under the All Progressive Congress said: “ I believe that the Nigerian women are really doing the very best they can do despite the circumstances they find themselves. Nigerian women can do better than this if we are given more opportunity or support, see Mary Elizabeth Truss who’s the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she’s just 47   years and she’s doing wonderfully well because she was given an opportunity. And four things women need to make it to the top in Nigeria are education, women need to equip themselves with, discipline, self-belief and courage, and lastly societal and cultural discrimination must stop. With these taken care of, our women can maximize their potential and contribute more to national development.”

Prior to her engagements in philanthropy and politics, she has nurtured the lives of many children through the Jenas School. Focused on promoting lifelong learning in an open and caring atmosphere that motivates students to be confident and responsible global citizens, The Jenas has sustained its reputation by providing high-standard education in line with the vision of Dr Mrs Mary Alile.

LADY ADA CHUKWUDOZIE, Group Executive Director, Dozzy Group of Companies

LADY ADA CHUKWUDOZIE: Cerebral, Astute World Class Business Leader with Passion Got Excellence

Every Career Woman in 21stcentury Nigeria dreams and desires to make an impact in her world but only a few have the capacity to drive their dreams and desires with the requisite competence, strong character sustained with integrity, and genuine commitment to helping people to be the best they can be. That is, only a few have been able to put their names on the lips of many Nigerians who now look up to them as role models.

Driven by her strong will to succeed and the belief that solutions are always possible, Lady Ada Chukwudozie, Group Executive Director, Dozzy Group Of Companies is an inspirational woman, who is successfully playing her roles as a caring mother, Leader, dutiful and responsible wife and a resourceful manager.

A dynamic woman whose professional engagements and exemplary lifestyle have helped in raising the bars of productivity and excellence in the nation’s corporate space, Lady Ada has equipped herself with applicable knowledge from renowned educational institutions in the continents of Africa, Asia and America.

The resourceful and amiable Amazon has distinguished herself by living her life with purpose and integrity, therefore, it is not surprising that her personality has gradually become a point of reference to many young women in Nigeria who are determined to make a genuine impact in life.

This assertion about the personality of Lady Ada is well reflected in the status of Dozzy Group, a leading African group of companies which is a Conglomerate of over 15 companies with a Focus in oil and gas, trading, manufacturing, blending, real estate, Logistics, Hospitality among others. 

Dozzy Group is one of Africa’s largest Independent energy trading and development-focused companies. Dozzy oil and gas sector has one of the largest petroleum storage facilities in the country with a capacity of 120 million metric tons located in Calabar, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Onisha.

In this interview with The Guardian, granted by Lady Ada Chukwudozie in response to her recognition as one of “Nigeria’s Most Outstanding and Impactful Women in leadership “ she speaks on her background, Passion and career journey, Leadership skills, Women empowerment, Dozzy Group success story, among other issues.

Lady Ada Chukwudozie is an Engineer by profession, having studied chemical engineering at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu, my quest for knowledge led me to do other courses like a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Diploma certificate Programs in Law, (LASU), Mandarin, from the Chinese Cultural University and Tapei Language Institute in Taiwan.

I am an Alumnus of Lagos Business school (cep 14, 2005), a fellow of the prestigious institute of Directors of Nigeria (IOD), a life council member of Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, and founder and president of the Association of Professional Women in rural development geared towards the empowerment of the underprivileged women, Council Board member, Oko Polytechnic, Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Enugu, Anambra &Ebonyi states zone. 

What would you describe the personal qualities and greatest passion that have brought you this far in your career journey ?

I would give much credit to my late parents who spared no resources in giving me the best of quality education and moral upbringing. I feel my love for knowledge and exposing myself to new skills have attributed a lot to my growth. It gave me the knowledge, self-confidence and capacity required at each point in my career to forge ahead. I also would attribute my success to my sense of hard work and ability to work with a sound and well-equipped workforce required to help me in areas I may not be well grounded. I equally recognise the special role played by my husband, Sir Dr Daniel Chukwudozie, by way of great support and exposure. He single-handedly took me through his special “university of trade, commerce and industry” equipping me from the early start with practical knowledge and problem-solving skills needed in today’s corporate governance and business management.  I finally give all glory to God for his grace, favour and benevolence for without God … man is nothing. 

Despite the harsh economy, we find ourselves in Nigeria, How would you describe your experience in the last few years regarding your leadership skills in running of a group of companies and associations?

It has not been easy I must admit. The economy and the country have witnessed a lot of negative challenges in the last few years. The covid 19 pandemic and consequent lockdown caused a lot of losses and businesses to crash. As the world seems to be gradually coming out of that ugly situation, the Russian/Ukrainian war seems to have dealt another terrible blow to the world economies leading to inflation, disruption of supply chains and international businesses leading to more hardships and challenges in both local and international trade. Dozzy Group is a conglomerate that deals in both oil and Gas trading, manufacturing, blending etc cannot be isolated from the ugly trends and harsh economic realities affecting other companies worldwide. 


From history records, women are known for seeking ways to educate, empower and contribute to society, can you say that women folks are performing up to expectations in Nigeria compare to the western world?

Nigeria like most African countries is yet to fully integrate and give women equal opportunities like their counterparts in the western and developed world. As someone rightly said, the higher you go, the fewer women you see in managerial and executive positions. In recent years we have observed some improvement in Nigeria with more women in elective and appointed positions in Government. we have an increasing number of women entrepreneurs and bloggers, a position hitherto was an exclusive reserve for men. However, the recognition of the ability of women to contribute at the top level and as such include them in decision-making in Nigeria seems to be very slow still. I believe that with more advocacy and awareness by stakeholders, all forms of gender discrimination targeted at women in both private and public sectors would be reduced drastically in the country. 

In your own opinion, What other qualities do you think are required or needed for a woman to make it to the top in Nigeria?

In the olden days, power, authority and leadership were synonymous with physical strength. The person with more physicality was expected to lead as leadership then was more physical than anything else. 

However, in the modern era, leadership is no more a physical thing, rather it is intellectual prowess, the ability to reason and use resources available to solve problems. the right person to lead therefore is one with more capacity, knowledge, skills and exposure needed to galvanize resources available to solve problems. Leadership, therefore, is not gender-sensitive. It should be open to the best person that can deliver. 

For women in our society still trying to extricate themselves from the cultural bias and stereotypes against women, there is a need to be properly equipped educationally. Continuous Self-improvement and acquisition of skills and exposures in leadership, management and other areas are very key.

 What are the limitations leading to a slow progress in the ascending of a woman as the Number one citizen in this great country?

 The factors are multi-dimensional. We have the cultural factor: There is this cultural bias and stereotype against women. Women are seen as weak and in need of protection by men. Under our various cultures and religions, a woman is expected not to be seen or heard in public, she is expected to be at home taking care of their children and her husband. This way of thinking is still prevalent and a lot of parents still raise their girl children under this wrong perception.

We have social factors: From birth, the girl child is raised in a different way from the boys. The girl child is psychologically over the years trained to be submissive, and docile and feel inferior to the boys. Her primary goal in life is to get married and have children, as such she is denied quality education, exposure and access to building essential leadership and business skills 

We have the economic factor: here women unlike men do not enjoy equal access to finance. Society would more easily give funding and access to finance to men than women. The woman has to do and prove more before some sort of access to finance is availed to her and in some instances, permission or consent is required of her husband or father before she is given some considerations for finance.

We have the political factor: there are fewer women in both the elective and appointed positions regardless of the fact that women are more in the population Despite the order of the Federal High Court some years ago that the federal government should respect and enforce the National Gender Policy by allotting 35 per cent of appointments in the public sector to women after a nongovernmental organization, Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), filed the suit against the Nigerian government, seeking the implementation of the 35 per cent Affirmative Action in appointments of women into public office, Nigeria Bureau of Statistics in its gender statistics bulletin for the first quarter of 2022 stated that women still occupied only 13.73% of ministerial appointments since the country returned to democracy in 1999 while the men occupied 86.27%. There is a need to change this narrative and disobedience of the successive Governments in Nigeria to the implementation of the  35% affirmative action in the appointment of women into more decision-making places as this would promote the equality and eradication of gender marginalization as witnessed in Nigeria today.

What’s your view regarding Nigerian political leaders ?, And Should Nigerians expect you in the political arena in the nearest feature for change?

The Nigerian political space seems to be getting more enlarged and conscious in recent years. The awareness and interest of the youth to participate seem to be on the rise. This is a good and welcome development. 

On the Leadership style in Nigeria, I seem not to be satisfied with the quality of leadership and management strategies applied by our leaders. We seem to be more reactionary than preventive in our strategies. The leakages and wastage in the running of the Government seem to be on the increase. There is a need to run the Government like a business concern using the best and most capable talents and hands available and not just placating some political godfathers or favouring one ethnic group above others in appointments on the altar of competence and capability to deliver.

According to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, “service is universal”. To me, a political appointment or seeking to be elected into a political office is something very serious and bothers on trust and willingness to offer service. It is indeed a call to higher service and one needs to be well prepared for it. Personally, I have not given thought to the subject but I rather focus daily on building my skill sets, capacity in line with modern trends and abilities to manage and deal with challenges both in business and outside of business so that if one day an opportunity calls for my service in public life, I would be ready and capable to discharge the office efficiently.

How would you advise young Nigerian female professionals who are looking up to an outstanding and impactful woman like you?

I have three pieces of advice: Take out time improving on your capacity and acquiring skills sets required in the modern business environment, Be confident and believe in your ability to forge and overcome challenges as they come, Be humble, hardworking and trust God even when the odds pile against you. Remember there is always a light at the end of every tunnel.