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Hon. Stella Okotete's Cosmopolitan Approach to Women Empowerment – THISDAY Newspapers

Stella Okotete is the Co-founder E ’Girls Right Foundation, Executive Director, Business Development of the Nigerian Export Import Bank and National Women Representatives of the All Progressives Congress. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes on her zest in touching lives, empowering women in politics and business
The first thing that catches your fancy and attention when you meet her is her simplicity; evident from first, her decent and signature style of dressing with all parts of her body covered from head to toe. But you would behold her innocent face usually brightened with a smile.
Next would be her voice sounding like that of a baby or a teenager and you may have to strain your ears before you can hear her clearly, but beneath her softness and her mellifluous voice is a woman that is blessed with wisdom, brilliance and an unquantifiable milk of human kindness.
Stella Okotete, often referred to as the tigress of the Niger Delta is unassuming yet very courageous and can square up with anyone as long as she is convinced of the course even though her battles are usually on behalf of others.
Stella would not stand or watch you take what belongs to others. She cares for the lowly ones and sometimes during her engagement in businesses as the Executive Director, Business Development of Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) or as National Women Representative of the All Progressives Congress (APC), one would imagine how such a sophisticated lady would kiss, hug women that are unkempt and scruffy but she does so with joy.
To her, public service is not a title of affluence, but a call to serve and so she prefers to be called a servant, which reminds her daily of the need to proffer solutions, demonstrate leadership and not rob or oppress those she has been called to serve.
She once said: “For some it’s a career, an opportunity to make wealth and a platform for relevance but for me, it is completely different, it’s a calling and a divine assignment.”
Hon. Stella is the Co-Founder E ’Girls Right Foundation and an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School Certificate program for Emerging Leaders, and the Lagos Business School (Pan-Atlantic University) Enterprise Development Centre program in Entrepreneurial Management. She is an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, and also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria, the Institute of Management Consultants and the Institute of Corporate Administration a recipient of the Africa Humanitarian Initiative Awards.
She possesses a Certificate in New Models of Business in Society from the University of Virginia, U.S.A and a Certificate of Risk Management in Banking Programme from INSEAD, Fontainebleau France.
Launch Of Progressive Women Academy
“Girls are leaders. Girls are change-makers. Girls are driving good and growth around the world. They are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and leadership.”
Those were her words in October 2021 when the world celebrated the International Day of the Girl-child.With the PWA, Okotete initiated a digital platform where lessons on
leadership, business, and self- development can be taken. The beauty is that you learn at your own pace, from any location. The skills and knowledge will improve your business and career and personal / family life.
At the launch, representatives from all states of the federation were hosted for days where they interacted with each other and resource persons like the Minister of state for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Minister of state for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; and Deputy Chief Whip of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha; were on ground to inspire the young ladies.
Interactions With Market Women
Hardly is there any market in Abuja, Lagos or Delta that she has not visited. Infact, her allies are market leaders. Recently, she interacted with market women from the six geo-political zones and assured them of plan to further include them in the stream of things aimed at improving their wellbeing.
The traders, who numbered over 300, were quoted in a statement to be elated at the opportunity given to them by the women leader as they took turns to express their challenges and the way forward for them and their businesses.
Okotete reminded them that the meeting was an expression of love for Nigeria’s unity, expression of love for their fellow women and for themselves and especially for those who were not physically present.
While reminding them that women are most affected by insecurity and insurgency in the land she urged them to pray for a united Nigeria for the sake of their children and the unborn ones.
“Our gathering here today is because of all of you and those market women who are not here today. I am here to listen to you and whatever you tell me here will form part of APC manifestoes in 2023. Let no one deceive you. APC is here to stay. Now is the time to plant so that in 2023, we will harvest.
“I will ensure that your needs are captured. APC Government ensured feeding program for our children, Tradermoni for market women, social works and other skill acquisition programmes. We will continue to lobby and negotiate for more seats and empowerment for all of you so you can have a secured future,” she said.
Fusion of Philanthropy and Professionalism
As the Executive Director of NEXIM Bank, Okotete and her team led by the Managing Director, Mr Abubakar A Bello, initiated products such as the ‘Women and Youth Export Facility’ as well as the ‘Small and Medium Export Enterprise Facility’, referenced to the Export Development Fund.
These products were developed out of her passion for job creation, industrialisation, and foreign exchange generation in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of President Muhammadu Buhari and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, specifically poverty eradication, economic stability and gender equality.
She is currently developing export diversification initiatives to help upscale the nation’s non-oil export sector and increase foreign exchange earnings in line with the federal government’s diversification policy and programs.
Okotete continues to develop sustainable growth initiatives for the nation’s non-oil export sector and remains steadfast in championing and advocating for the rights of the girl-child.
Mentorship
Hon Okotete uses every avenue to lecture and mentor younger women. According to her, being sexy is possessing the full package: the brains, the drive, inner confidence, spiritual foundation, a positive attitude, proceeding through obstacles, making a positive contribution to the world, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
She preaches that women should always be a first-rate version of themselves, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. Because the strongest force in the universe is a human being living consistently with his / her identity.
Okotete’s love and patriotism earned her the name, Buhari’s Daughter. The act of patriotism and feeling patriotic are things which will make for a stronger nation. Her words: “Not only will you be able to relate well to others in your shared love for this country but the more individuals who express their patriotic feelings, the stronger our country will be as a whole.
“Those who are patriotic will do what is right for our nation in the way of supporting efforts to make the country stronger and come together as a combined group with a common goal.
“That goal is to do what we can to keep the nation united and show solidarity for the good of our country Nigeria. When you are patriotic, you are dedicated and strong. You exude a special fortitude in showing your dedication to achieve goals in the best interest of the country.”

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