By Adeola Ajayi
On 27 April 2020, the President Muhammadu Buhari announced the easing of the lockdown necessitated by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja effective May 4, 2020. Since then, there have been various schools of thought as to whether or not this was the right move considering the rapidly growing number of contaminations in the country – 4,151 confirmed cases as at 09 May 2020. A major argument in favour of the decision is the harsh reality that Nigeria and its citizens can simply not afford a prolonged halt on economic activities without suffering what some would say is a far worse fate than COVID-19.
Of a truth, all over the world, the socioeconomic impacts of the virus have been severely felt. We have not only seen global health systems struggle under the weight of the virus, but we have also seen huge losses in revenue in various key industries – aviation, tourism and manufacturing to name a few; rising inflation; increasing rates in unemployment; amongst others. All of these point to the fact that life can become far more difficult for millions across the globe after the pandemic is over and Nigeria is no exception.
Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, we are contending with a far more calamitous situation. Having been named the poverty capital of the world, the ability of Nigerians to adequately care for themselves was already significantly pressured even before COVID-19. More so, with 65 per cent of Nigerians in the informal sector, the five-week lockdown from March 30 to May 3 meant that the numerous tailors, drivers, traders, movie producers, artists, manufacturers, farmers, etc., were unable to go out and make the income required to provide for themselves and their families. It meant that many of them would be forced to go hungry.
Fortunately, the private sector and its participants rose to the challenge to address the urgent need for palliatives to mitigate the growing socioeconomic crisis. A noteworthy initiative in this regard is the MOJEC Food Bank Drive, which kicked off on April 22, 2020 while the lockdown was still in effect and continues to run till date. This initiative was championed by MOJEC Meter Asset Management Company, a leading electricity meter management company and a subsidiary of MOJEC International with the objective to provide food supplies to 10,000 households across Nigeria even as fight COVID-19.
Already, the MOJEC Food Bank Drive has benefitted the vulnerable in Ago, Amuwo, Ikorodu, Ikota, Ijesa, Abule Ado, Ilasa, Monkey Village, where recipients have received packs of foodstuff worth N10,000 that will go a long way in sustaining themselves and their families in the near term. What is even more noteworthy about the initiative is that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MOJEC International, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, personally led the drive in some communities and was reported to have indicated that the MOJEC Food Bank Drive would extend beyond Lagos to other parts of the country.
While the MOJEC Food Bank Drive is indeed commendable, is it not the only testament to Ms. Chantelle’s doggedness and passion to solve a problem. She took over the helm of affairs in MOJEC International at her mother’s request right when the Nigerian power sector was undergoing privatization and it presented a perfect opportunity to bring some revolutionary change to the industry and deliver value to Nigerians. Fast forward to today, what started as a small family business, has grown into a conglomerate of international businesses in the manufacturing, power, generation, mining, agriculture and technology, thanks to Ms. Chantelle’s innovative, resilient and solution-oriented spirit.
It is no surprise that the achievements of MOJEC International have catapulted Ms. Chantelle into the league of top female CEOs in Nigeria today; a league that her mother, Mrs. Mojisola Abdul – now Chairman, Mojec International Holdings – would undoubtedly qualify as one of its pioneering members. Right from her days as one of the biggest distributors for Michelin tires in Nigeria, Mrs. Mojisola has built a spectacular portfolio and enjoyed business success in various industries including ream paper, textiles, manufacturing, chemicals, fashion, and of course power. Her unique vision, business insights and superior entrepreneurial skills enabled her to build a business that her daughter, Ms. Chantelle continues to expand its capacity to deliver both economic and social value to Nigerians nationwide.
As we continue to see rapid changes in the economic landscape both as an effect of COVID-19 and many other factors, it is certain that we can expect much more from the Abdul mother-daughter duo. Where the MOJEC Food Bank Drive continues to provide succour to the underserved as we ride out this pandemic, the business continues to deploy innovative methods to solving the problems within the power sector from metering to local capacity building and event to liquidity. It is safe to say that MOJEC is firmly on the path to becoming a household name to the benefit of Nigerians nationwide.
* Ajayi writes from Lagos