She certainly doesn’t cut the picture of the conventional civil servant. Yeye Adejoke Ojo, the Yeye Arobake of Iba land in Osun State, is a gorgeous looking woman who looks more like a successful business woman rather than a typical Civil Servant. This is largely because she is a fantastic dresser, a respected society woman and an undeniably pretty woman. But before and above all these, she is first and foremost an accomplished civil servant who has dedicated a large chunk of her life to serving Lagos State. And she has done remarkably well for herself. Having started as a classroom teacher several years ago, this charming and hard working woman has seen her career grow in leaps and bounds, and today, she is an Assistant Director, Head of Procurement Unit, LASEPA. At the recently held City People’s Female Achievers Awards, Yeye Adejoke Ojo was recognized for her excellent performance in public service, an honour everyone present agreed she was deserving of. Shortly after she picked up her award, she spoke to City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL about her passion for public service and the significant progress her agency, LASEPA, has made in the area of reducing noise pollution in Lagos state.
Congratulations on the award you just picked up, ma. What does this recognition mean to you?
Thank you very much. My name is Yeye Adejoke Ojo, the Yeye Arobake of Ibaland in Osun State. I am excited about this award. I am happy to be recognized. What brings me joy is when you’re working and you think nobody is watching you or taking notice of you, and then, suddenly, somebody comes from the media and tells you you’re doing well. It gladdens my heart. So, I want to tell you I’m happy, I’m delighted and I’m so excited to receive this award. When your hard work is being recognized, that gives you the drive to want to do more. According to my former governor, Fashola, the reward of hard work is more hard work. So, I’m really happy to take the award.
Share with us, ma, some of the challenges you have had to deal with on the job, knowing that what you do is more suited for men. How was it like at the start for you?
Life, itself, has a lot of challenges. To be alive, you need to struggle and face your challenges. Working as a Procurement Officer has its own challenges. I started with Lagos state as a class room teacher, then I got transferred to the then Teaching Service Commission of Lagos State and from there I got into the mainstream. I got into the Ministry of Education and afterwards, I joined the Procurement Cadre. All through these different stages I have been through in the course of my career, there were challenges and believe me they were enormous. But when you have the will, you will have the way. The strong will is there. Whenever the challenges come, I pray to God and I surmount it. I surmount my challenges with determination and I tell myself that I am not going to be a failure. I said I would not fall by the way side like others because I have a goal, I have a target. So, yes, the challenges come, but I surmount them with the grace of God.
What’s your designation at LASEPA, ma?
I am the Assistant Director, Procurement Unit. I am the Head of the Procurement Unit in LASEPA.
Looking back, how would you describe your career journey so far? Would you say you feel fulfilled that you have gotten this far? And what are your other aspirations?
Well, I will liken myself to Oliver Twist who always wants more. I haven’t gotten to the peak yet, I still have my eyes set on the peak ahead of me. And I pray by the special grace of God that I will surely get there.
How would you say Lagosians have embraced the mission and objectives of LASEPA in terms of controlling noise pollution in the state?
Yes, my agency has tried a lot to create awareness and sensitize people on the effects of noise pollution. Just two weeks ago, we had a gathering that had in attendance different groups of people from all spheres of life like hoteliers, barbers, NURTW Chairmen, artisans and several others. We called them to a meeting to let them know the effect of noise population and the many dangers it can bring to our health and well being. So, LASEPA, as an agency, we are the regulatory body of the Ministry of Education that is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that we keep our environment clean. And we have been doing perfectly well. The state government has commended us severally and encouraged us to keep up our performance. That tells you that LASEPA is working and we won’t stop working.
How about the grass roots, ma, would you say the publicity on noise pollution has been effective enough to reach the man on the street and sensitize them on your agency’s mission?
Yes, sure. We have done a whole lot. I just told you about the meeting we had with the NURTW group, the local government, with LCDAs, we are working in conjunction with all of these groups to let people know the effect of noise pollution. To let them know the effect of living in an unclean environment. We have strived tirelessly to ensure we have a clean and conducive environment. LASEPA is trying in that regard.
And what would you say the response has been going by the noise level in Lagos state at the moment?
Oh, the noise level in Lagos state has been reduced to 25%. It has reduced drastically. We have been able to achieve this because we are constantly working. When petitions come, we stand up to face it squarely, no matter who is involved. LASEPA has been adequately equipped and we are doing our job perfectly well.
What basically are the health hazards of noise pollution?
The hazards are quite many. For instance, when there is noise pollution around your area and you return home from the office to rest, and somebody’s having a party close to you and the speakers are terribly loud, you won’t be able to sleep or even rest. You won’t be able to wake up soundly the next morning and be productive. So, it would definitely affect the productivity of that person. LASEPA has been able to reduce this menace drastically. We don’t have parties on the streets anymore. Even the event centers now have sound proofed halls. We created that awareness and enforced that all the event centers should have sound proofed halls. That way, you will go to sleep well and wake up well. But if you don’t get a sound sleep, you won’t wake up feeling strong and healthy, and that will affect your productivity. Being exposed to high level of noise could also cause hearing problems. We have also tried to teach the public how to detect noise level on their mobile phones and ascertain if it’s too high to be tolerated or not. All you do is put on the noise meter on your phone and get the actual noise level of that party taking place beside your house and determine whether they need to be cautioned or not. LASEPA has gone to that extent.
What sort of support has His Excellency the governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, given to your agency?
He has given us tremendous support. He has given us a hundred and twenty percent support and we totally appreciate him. Each time we go to him and say we need to do this, we need to do that, he comes to our aid. I want to use this opportunity to thank him and let him know that the entire civil servants in Lagos State are behind him. And we’re all saying it loud and clear, Ambode Lekan sii!
You are an absolutely gorgeous woman, ma, yet you are involved in very serious operations with your agency LASEPA, how do the men, particularly, response to you when you go out to discharge your responsibilities?
Well, just like you described me, a gorgeous woman. When you see something gorgeous, you embrace it. You welcome it. So, by embracing me, I am able to tell you my mission. And my mission is to ensure a cleaner and noiseless Lagos.
In another five years or so from now, where do you hope to be in terms of your career growth?
In LASEPA, we have extremely capable hands, so I see LASEPA going higher, achieving a lot more and ensuring a cleaner and more conducive environment. But as for me, God has my tomorrow and I know my tomorrow will be greater than my today. Thank you.