I give glory to God. I’m also indebted to the Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi for the opportunity-
Olapeju Babafemi is the acting head of service of the Ekiti state civil service. This soft spoken but firm and assertive lady, is our woman of Substance for this week.
Integrity Is My Core Value – Olapeju
By Woman of Substance with Oluremi Adeoye
I started my career in 1985 with a stint in broadcasting at the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation, Akure. I was then a News Reporter/Editor. However, I was not comfortable with the limelight of broadcasting and I disengaged in 1987 to take up appointment as an administrative officer in Ondo State Civil Service. I was rising through the ranks and at the creation of Ekiti State in October 1996, I moved to Ekiti State Civil Service.
The first challenge I had at the initial stage of my career was my inability to understand immediately what the job entailed and what I would be contributing to the system. I was young, vibrant and full of life but found the whole work environment and setting somewhat difficult to understand. However, I was genuinely interested in getting acquainted with the job and acquiring the required knowledge. I was greatly assisted by several opportunities I had, in attending seminars, workshops and some in-service training programs.
At that initial stage and as a woman in a male dominated work place, it was natural to expect some intimidation and harassment. Not only was the Civil Service male dominated, it was even more so at the leadership cadres. So, I had a few occasions of intimidation and harassments. Happily, at each stage of my career, I handled difficult gender based challenges positively without compromising my values.
As Head of Service in Ekiti
First of all, acting as Head of Service gave me a sense of fulfillment and I give glory to God. I’m also indebted to the Governor, His Excellency Dr Kayode Fayemi for the opportunity, and the confidence reposed in me to serve in this capacity.
Since I got to the office, expectedly my scope of work has expanded in difference to what it used to be when I served as a Permanent Secretary. Aside from the expansive functions of the office, I have to grapple with the challenge of ensuring the provision of adequate bureaucratic input to the implementation of the Four-Pillars of Governance of the administration. The pillars are encapsulated in Social Investments, Knowledge Economy, Infrastructure and Industrial Development as well as Agriculture and Rural Development.
Thankfully, we have a Governor who places high premium on the workforce and who is committed unflinchingly to its welfare.
Women in Ekiti State Civil Service
I believe we may not yet be at where we are supposed to be. But then we are also not where we used to be. Ekiti State Civil Service is guided by rules and regulations and gender discrimination and marginalization are not prominent.
We have the State Gender and Development Policy as well as the Equal Opportunities Law 2013 enacted during the first term of Governor Kayode Fayemi. In a nutshell, the purpose of the Policy and the Law is to build a just society devoid of discrimination and to harness the potential of men and women. Historically, we now have more women as Permanent Secretaries, General Managers and Executive Secretaries.
Also, for the first time in the history of the state, a woman is functioning as the Head of Service.
Mentoring is a process in which an experienced individual helps another person develop his or her goals and skills through a series of one-on-one conversations and other learning activities. A successful leader must be a mentor. I look at mentoring as having to do with someone who leads others to lead themselves. In life, there’s no success without a successor. Even in the Bible, Paul had Timothy, Elijah had Elisha and Moses had Joshua. I strongly believe, a leader should have followers to whom he will pass the leadership baton.
Voluntary promotion of human welfare should be paramount in the heart of a true leader. However, as a civil servant, I believe it should be done discreetly, not for show-off or for ego trip. No act of kindness, however small, is wasted and we should be a blessing to others.
I’m well involved in assisting the less privileged but as said earlier, I believe in doing this quietly. A self-centered life is an empty life. I firmly believe that I’m not here to care for my immediate family alone, a woman is a mother to any child she has access to that required her support.
Primarily, I’m inspired through the word of God. I’m also inspired when I read good books on self-motivation, leadership, relationships and autobiographies. For me, reading a good book is like spending a good time with a friend. At any particular time, I have one or two books I’m reading. I’m also invigorated when I relate closely with positive, principled, passionate, courageous and authentic leaders. I have mentors.
Well, my response to this would be Yes and No. Yes, because as a youth, I had few challenging occasions and circumstances that I did not handle perfectly, which if I were to have a rerun, I would act differently. No, because thankfully, I don’t have any life-altering issue of regrets flowing from wrong decision taken in the past.
Advice to career women
I have been very lucky with my husband I draw a lot of support from him, always there any time I require his input which is regularly. I believe a career woman need the support of her partner so as not to run crazy, those who are married or in a relationship should ensure that the home doesn’t get in the way of work and work doesn’t get in the way of home. Though it’s never easy being a mom/wife trying to juggle a full-time job with a family life, a career woman should do the following:
Avoid starting the day on a frazzled note by getting organized the night before. Lay out the kids’ clothes, stuff etc (plus your own). You should decide what to make for breakfast, create and organize a family calendar. A calendar can include dates when bills are due, a list of school and family events, extra-curricular activities and birthdays; stay connected with family members while at work through text messages and quick calls; spend time with your partner and nurture your relationship; create moments for yourself, a refreshing break will help you recharge, make sure to manage your energy well. You can’t be effective either at home or in the workplace if you’re cranky, so take time to care for yourself to feel relaxed and effective
At the workplace, try to avoid wasting time. Of course you want to connect with people, but numerous email, WhatsApp exchanges, casual internet surfing, gossiping and long chats are distractions that will make you less productive and finally, surround yourself with experts and delegate work effectively
I want to be remembered as a woman of integrity. For me, integrity is my core value. I also want to be remembered as a kind and humane personality, giving my best to better the lots of people around me and making the world a better place than I met it.