Most Nigerian will consider it a privilege to be called upon to serve their country once. Undoubtedly, if such people are called twice to do so, it would mean a double honour.
More importantly, such opportunities come as a recognition of the capability and the ability of the beneficiary to perform. One of the very few Nigerians who has had such an opportunity to be called upon to put her skills to use for the service of the country is Chief, Dr. (Mrs.) Nike Akande, CON.
She was the first Nigerian woman to be a Minister of Industry. This was not surprising to many who knew her as a strong believer in the philosophy that industrialisation is a means to Poverty Alleviation and eradication as well as employment generation. Therefore, for Chief Akande, the opportunity to serve as a minister of industry was an opportunity to fulfil a passion.
Akande, who is a Harvard-trained professional and an investment expert is the current President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce. In an interview with City People’s TESSY MOORE, this renowned industrialist and investment expert, described as “A role model and inspirator” disclosed how she attained her present position and how Chief ErnestShonekan has influenced her life. Excerpts.
Why do you call Chief Shonekan your mentor?
I will tell you why I call him my mentor. Chief Shonekan GCFR, the CBE is my mentor he and his wife are my mentors. When I joined the Harvard Alumni Association. Harvard Business School Association after attending the university, he was the one who said, “let’s have a female president now as we have had many male presidents in the past. So, he called the past presidents to support me, so when we got to oll centre, I saw many ex-presidents there, I didn’t know that they had agreed that I should become the president, I didn’t know that they talked to the persons who were contesting against me to be President, to please step down for me. That they wanted a woman that time round. That is why I can never forget Chief Shonekan
You mean that you became the President of the alumni unopposed?
Definitely unopposed and also, Chief Shonekan was the Chairman of Vision 2010, when he kept on giving me work to do, I didn’t know he was preparing me for a higher responsibility. Shortly after that, I was announced as the Honourable Minister of Industry.
Which year was that?
It was in 1990, it was really quite some time. It’s my work that recommended me. They were watching me at work. They kept a tab on what I was doing at the Vision 2010 I just heard my name on radio. In fact, I was not even in Nigeria when my name was announced, I was in Ghana when I heard my name and then the Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana was looking for me. They told him that I have gone to Ghana to deliver a paper for UNICEL so, they came looking for me and I was immediately sent back to Nigeria. Honestly, I can’t forget the man.
How would you describe him?
Chief Shonekan is a kind man. A man who is very honest. A man who does what he thinks is right for you without you asking for it. At my investiture when I became the second woman in 128 years to become president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, he and his wife came to honour me. Many governors came even people from outside the country. The first female governor from Anambra, came too. If you look at my CV, you will see most of the things that I have done and most of my friends came to honour me, I thank God for that. God has been kind.
What is the secret of your beauty?
I really don’t know the secret of my beauty.
Kindly tell us what you use to keep glowing?
That I don’t know, but I smile much as you can see. And if you smile you don’t get wrinkles on your face. I’m over 70, so I thank God for my life.