By Adeola Ajayi
On April 27, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the easing of the necessary blockade for the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja from May 4, 2020. Since then, there have been several schools of thought like if this was the right step, considering the rapid growth in the number of contaminations in the country – 4,151 confirmed cases on May 9, 2020. An important argument in favor of the decision is the harsh reality that Nigeria and its citizens simply cannot afford a prolonged halt in economic activities without suffering what some would say is a far worse destination than COVID-19.
In fact, across the world, the socioeconomic impacts of the virus have been severely felt. We have seen not only global health systems struggling under the weight of the virus, but we have also seen huge revenue losses in several key sectors – aviation, tourism and manufacturing, to name a few; increased inflation; rising unemployment rates; among others. All of this points to the fact that life could become much more difficult for millions around the world after the end of the pandemic and Nigeria is no exception.
Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, we are facing a much more dire situation. Having been named the world's capital of poverty, the ability of Nigerians to take proper care of themselves was already under significant pressure even before COVID-19. In addition, with 65% of Nigerians in the informal sector, the five-week block from March 30 to May 3 meant that the numerous tailors, drivers, traders, filmmakers, artists, manufacturers, farmers, etc. they were unable to go out and make the necessary income to support themselves and their families. This meant that many of them would be forced to starve.
Fortunately, the private sector and its participants faced the challenge of meeting the urgent need for palliative care to mitigate the growing socio-economic crisis. A noteworthy initiative in this regard is the MOJEC Food Bank Drive, which started on April 22, 2020 while the blockade was still in place and remains in effect to date. This initiative was championed by the MOJEC Meter Asset Management Company, a leading electricity meter management company and a subsidiary of MOJEC International with the goal of providing food to 10,000 families across Nigeria, even in the fight against COVID-19.
MOJEC Food Bank Drive has already benefited the most vulnerable in Ago, Amuwo, Ikorodu, Ikota, Ijesa, Abule Ado, Ilasa, Monkey Village, where beneficiaries received food packages worth N10,000 that will help a lot to support themselves . and their families in the short term. What is even more noteworthy about the initiative is that MOJEC International executive director (CEO) Chantelle Abdul personally led the movement in some communities and was reported to have indicated that MOJEC Food Bank Drive would extend beyond Lagos to other parts of the country.
While MOJEC Food Bank Drive is truly commendable, it is not the only testimony to Chantelle's obstinacy and passion for solving a problem. She took charge of MOJEC International, at her mother's request, when Nigeria's energy sector was privatizing and this represented a perfect opportunity to bring some revolutionary change to the industry and add value to Nigerians. Moving forward today, what started as a small family business, has become a conglomerate of international manufacturing, energy, generation, mining, agriculture and technology companies, thanks to Chantelle's innovative, resilient and solution-oriented spirit.
It is no surprise that MOJEC International's achievements catapulted Chantelle into the league of Nigeria's top female CEOs today; a league that his mother, Ms. Mojisola Abdul – now president of Mojec International Holdings – would undoubtedly qualify as one of its pioneering members. Since her days as one of the largest Michelin tire distributors in Nigeria, Ms. Mojisola has built a spectacular portfolio and achieved commercial success in a number of sectors, including ream paper, textiles, manufacturing, chemicals, fashion and, of course, power. Her unique vision, business insights and superior business skills have enabled her to build a business that her daughter, Chantelle, continues to expand her ability to deliver economic and social value to Nigerians across the country.
While we continue to see rapid changes in the economic scenario, both as an effect of COVID-19 and of many other factors, it is certain that we can expect much more from the mother and daughter Abdul. Where MOJEC Food Bank Drive continues to provide relief to the less fortunate as we face this pandemic, the company continues to deploy innovative methods to solve problems in the energy sector, from measurement to local capacity building and the event to liquidity. It is safe to say that MOJEC is firmly on the way to becoming a household name for the benefit of Nigerians across the country.
* Ajayi writes from Lagos