Comrade Adeola Ekine, the Chairperson of NAWOJ, Lagos State Chapter, in this interview with Waka About Africa in Lagos, spoke on the need for the Lagos state governor to carry the Lagos NAWOJ along. With over 400 female journalists cuts across all the media houses in Lagos, the chairperson solicit fatherly care from the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, and also from her leaders” She said ‘we are not the weaker gender, we are actually the strongest and pray the governor grants Lagos Nawoj listening ear very soon”. Comrade Ekine, among many other things, aired her mind on her leadership role and the relationship with members of her executive council.
Mrs. Ekine came on board on May 23, 2019, with her amiable exco. ” It’s exactly four years now, we’re now in for our second term”.
Here is the full interview:
I find it very interesting, it’s been a rollercoaster ride, since we came on board, since I became the Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in Lagos State.
To start with, I met the NAWOJ Lagos State chapter literally lying fallow, an unpopular association. To think that there are well over 400 female journalists cuts across all the media houses in Lagos. Since we came on board, I will say we’ve had a lot of programs.
The first program we had was the breast-feeding week, which has always been done, we just had to continue with that, through the past administrations, and it was well attended, as we invited a lot of people, including the wife of the Lagos state Governor.
Personally, leadership has really changed my perception of life. Leadership is not inborn, it is something that you lead even around the job. And to lead the women folk, especially journalists, one needs a special kind of grace.
I’ll say that I have the support of my entire executive council members, that of past administrations and elders in the Union, as well as that of veterans many mentors unmentioned. Many thanks too to the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy that’s actually the largest in the states. I still go back home to relate with them to get words of advice from all the directors in the Ministry.
At first, we were faced with lots of challenges ranging from loss of jobs on the part of journalists due to the Covid-19 pandemic to non-payment of journalists by their employers, for which journalists are also required to pay their dues.
Because we use the dues to run the association, we find that difficult to gather, a lot of people don’t even have enough funds to feed their families, and asking them to pay dues would make us appear insensitive. Other challenges include lack of funds to train members and physical unavailability of members at our congresses irrespective of the huge publicity around such programs.
Adeola Ekine said, “Beyond these, I will say that God has been on our side, we are working towards the challenges and we are overcoming them, there’s no association or organization that is not faced with challenges”. However, one of the beauties of being a leader is that it teaches one how to overcome challenges. For me, though, the challenges are an opportunity to grow because, as I already noted, one who has a base and a good support system, will find it easy to manage their challenges. I have some elders, I have some of the past veterans and some of the past executive council (Exco) members whose words of advice helped me to find the way forward, ”leadership is more a collective responsibility than a personal thing”, she said.
The Chairperson, NAWOJ Lagos Chapter, told Waka About Africa that under her watch, the Lagos chapter has become more visible, well known all over the country, and more visible in the press. A lot of people didn’t know about NAWOJ but now is known, with a lot of them relating to the Association. Everyone now knows Lagos NAWOJ they invite us to different programs and interviews.
We had our delegate congress in Minna in November 2020, before Lagos could get to Minna, because of the turbulence we encountered on the road, they kept calling because everyone believer Lagos NAWOJ leads others to follow.
We also have our regular congresses every first Saturday of the month. But during the pandemic, we couldn’t do it physically. However, I tell you, we never missed a congress every month, virtually and have resumed our normal monthly congresses regularly.
Secondly, through the training and empowerment programs that we were able to do, we trained over 200 of our members, including during the pandemic, to enable them to make money from home. We were able to train our members on vocational skills, such as make-up artistry, gele tying, nose mask making, and air bond, with a host of other things that I can’t remember.
Another thing I could say is that we are now more in the news than before. We have press releases that go viral on all the media handles, and again, our social media handles have been very active since we took over in 2019.
As the Chairperson of NAWOJ, Lagos State Chapter, my second term, I’ll introduce a system by which we recognize our female veterans who are no more in practice, giving awards of recognition to the majority of our female veterans, people that have covered some particular beats and did it well, giving a special day to recognize them to give awards to them and therefore leave an impact on the younger generation.
NAWOJ, Lagos chapter, now has a daycare center, to encourage breastfeeding for nursing working mothers.
I’m looking at a NAWOJ that will have its own Secretariat and not basically given an office in the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) building, a secretariat that will be probably donated or given to us by someone. It will be exclusively NAWOJ and we will have a training center in that place, offices, a daycare center, and a preschool, and a pre-school that will encourage nursing mothers, assuring them of a friendlier, clean and well-kept environment.
Part of what I said is the recognition we are trying to get in the State, and we are having patrons and matrons that can also mentor us. We are having patrons and matrons that can assist and support us.
If Lagos State Government had known NAWOJ, especially the Lagos State first lady’s office, they would have recognized us. If our members were more participatory, in much training that Lagos offers that has been going on, NAWOJ could benefit. As I said, the fund is everything, one cannot run an association or organization without funds, we cannot deceive ourselves, despite the fact that we still look inward, we have to get support from outsiders, we have to get support from the state government, and we have to get support from corporate organizations. So getting matrons and patrons is to encourage, to be in recognition of the partnership, and collaboration with NAWOJ. So if we can get free training, you can get support for our programs. And then we don’t need to really stress our members to bring funds as they will benefit from such collaborations and recognitions.
It is a vision that the process has already started, a vision that we are already working on. This is actually not new, it’s not going to be a new thing. We are already working on it. By the grace of God, some of this has been administered during our first tenure. Very importantly, I won’t mention these, because I don’t want to really commit myself because this will be met and it will be another one that would be met. Again, let me state that because the pandemic truncated a majority of our programs, we could not go for our international training. And that is something that I promise under our mandate that will come to pass before the end of this administration.
Talking about my relationship with the EXCO, it’s been on a good note. But you know it is not easy to lead or have the same vision as you will have loved to. But as I speak, I want to say that between me and my EXCO, it’s a good one, we’ve been working together very well. We have our differences. We fight a lot. If we don’t fight we will not move ahead because we have different views, we have various mindsets, sometimes by the end of the day despite the fighting and arguing we meet in the middle and we forge ahead. As I speak with you today we are in a good place with all my EXCO members, I will say with every sense of happiness that we are all in a good place.
Comrade Ekine said, “I would like to encourage all students of Mass Communication and upcoming female journalists to be determined because it is a beautiful profession. We are always tagged as female journalists, we have been tagged’gentlemen of the press’ because they take us together with our male counterparts. But believe me, a lot of female journalists are going places, and a lot of female journalists are changing the world. So my advice is that they should keep at what they do, they should remain focused and committed.
Although we have a lot of discrimination, when it gets to the workplace, they say okay, because you are a female, you cannot handle some beats, they want to send their male counterparts. But I want to say that if you are determined, and you’re good at what you do, nobody will push you over. We have plans to bring the upcoming journalists on board once in a while when we’re having programs so that they can be encouraged.
They can also encourage mentorship, when they see some of us, they can ask questions, and we can mentor them and guide them through the process of academics and their chosen career. I also want to say that as females, they consider us the weaker gender. I will say that we are not the weaker gender, we are actually the strongest because wherever anything is happening, you cannot be there. Nothing can happen without the female folk. We have been advocating even for leadership positions in the country.
The Governor should involve more women, especially in Lagos State, the governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has some females in his cabinet than before. We thank him for that and hope that he can still do more.
Then I want to also solicit from our leaders, from the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, all the commissioners, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, our grand patron, who has promised to support us, and some of the women leaders, especially the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who is also our Grand matron.
They have been supporting us before now, but we hope that, although they have a lot of people on their necks because we are a female group, they should also consider supporting us more. We are not only a female group, we are female journalists in Lagos State. So we are under NUJ. I remember that when we came on board, we told our first lady that she had over 400 new children on her watch that is the Lagos female journalists. So I am using this opportunity to tell the first lady again that your children are still here. We are hoping that you’ll grant us a hearing very soon. And then we are hoping for all our letters to be acknowledged very soon out there hoping that they will get a lot of support from you. Thank you very much.
My final word will be to my constituents, that is NAWOJ Lagos State Chapter, I want to appreciate them, thank God, and thank them for believing in me. I want to thank them for the support so far, it has been overwhelming, you’ll be surprised that sometimes I get calls in the middle of the night. And they say chairperson you are doing well, don’t be discouraged. I won’t tell you that sometimes you don’t get discouraged. But because of the support system of a lot of people, people will blow your trumpet, even when you are not there. When you see all those, you have that zeal to continue to go on and do more.
I want to say that sisterhood is very important, we should learn to support each other. The ones that are bitter I’m using this opportunity and medium to call them back on board, come together let’s do it together. If I’ve offended anybody during the electioneering process, all I’m saying is that I’m sorry, let us come together and build NAWOJ Lagos. Let us be the envy of other NAWOJ chapters in the Federation, because if we are together in Lagos, then the sky will be our beginning.