The inclusion of Hon. Stella Okotete and other youth in President Tinubu’s first batch of Ministerial nominees signals a clear departure from the perennial practice of recycling older politicians and alienating the youth
The Nigerian Senate on Thursday, July 27, 2023 recieved the list of the first batch of President Tinubu’s Ministerial nominees. The much awaited list containing 28 names, had a good number of women and youth representation with Hon Stella Okotete standing out from the pack, particularly for her youthfulness, gender and vast experience in public service. Her appointment and those of other youthful Nigerians as Minister designate could well be an indicator that President Tinubu’s administration is poised to accommodate youths with proven records of performance in his government and give them a place in the leadership of the Nigerian state.
The inclusion of Hon. Stella Okotete and other youth in President Tinubu’s first batch of Ministerial nominees signals a clear departure from the perennial practice of recycling older politicians and alienating the youth from participating actively in governance and political leadership. We must commend the President for accommodating the youths and women at the Ministerial level in the first instance. This implies that it is healthy to hope and expect that more youths and women will be considered in subsequent batches of the Ministerial list and other notable positions of public trust.
The appointment of Hon. Stella Okotete as a Minister designate is eliciting great excitement amongst Nigerian youths and women across the nation and represents a glimmer of hope to the teeming youthful population, sadly, some persons who are seeking to perpetuate themselves in government and preserve the old order have resorted to their usual antics and stratagems of mudslinging and sponsored smear campaigns against Stella Okotete’s nomination in a bid to arm-twist the President to reconsider his position and succumb to their positions and preferences.
This bland and old-fashioned antics and attacks aimed at impeaching the character of Hon. Stella Okotete and projecting an unsavoury representation of her personality is not only uncalled for but a strong demonstration of the plot by some elements to deny the youths a viable representation in Stella Okotete and other youthful appointees. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we are witnessing a fair number of youths and women in the first batch of a 28-man list of Ministerial nominees and we are not about to allow fabricators and sponsors of falsehood deny the youths this lifetime opportunity to serve our nation and further demonstrate our competence and abilities in governance and leadership.
It is for this same reason of denying the youths that the social and print media are inundated with several fabricated and sponsored smear campaigns against Stella Okotete one of the youngest of the entire Minister Designates. Her subsequent confirmation as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will place her in history as one of the youngest Ministers ever appointed in nation.
Given the state of affairs in the nation and the clamour for young, experienced and credible Nigerians to take up positions of trust and leadership in government, we do not see why any one who means well for the youths and Nigeria generally should deploy scarce resources to sponsor smear campaigns and propagate damning falsehood on a national scale against someone with vast experience, proven track records of performance, youthful passion and the expertise needed to rebrand and reposition Nigeria at this critical time.
Hon Stella Okotete has ammased years of experience in political and public leadership, having served as a Councilor (2009-2011), Special Assistant on Millennium Development Goals to the Governor of Delta State (2011 – 2015), National Women Representative of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC (2020 – 2022) and currently the Executive Director, Business Development Nigerian Export and Import, NEXIM Bank, a position she has occupied since 2017. Stella Okotete demonstrates unmatched expertise in policy design and implementation, international development and general administration, public-private partnership management, business development and export financing.
Her records of achievements in the various positions of trust she has held and presently holds speak volumes and gives an in-depth insight into her passion and commitment towards a better Nigeria. Within the periods from 2017 till present, she embarked on strategic reforms of the Bank, which invariably resulted in increased profits, favourable returns on capital earnings, reduction in non-performing loans and an increase in the total assets of the Bank. Following remarkable performance, Hon. Stella and the entire Executive Management team were re-appointed by President Muhammdu Buhari in 2022 for another 5-year tenure.
Hon. Stella continues to champion the development of the Export Sector in Nigeria, expanding the frontiers of NEXIM to other areas for growth, strategic collaborations, and lines of credit for the Bank. Her role as the Executive Director of Business Development at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), she has led initiatives to support entrepreneurship, facilitate trade, and diversify the nation’s export sector. Her vision for job creation, industrialization, and foreign exchange generation has led to the introduction of innovative products such as the “Women and Youth Export Facility” and the “Small and Medium Export Enterprise Facility,” which have catalysed economic development and empowered entrepreneurs across various industries.
During her tenure as the National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress’ CECPC, Hon. Stella Okotete demonstrated exceptional leadership, in her quest to engender women’s visibility and inclusivity in governance, business and politics, which constituted her “tripartite approach” in line with the 35% affirmative action for women’s visibility, activism and inclusion in all governance processes. Under her leadership, the first ever large gathering of women in politics – Progressives Women Conference – that canvassed over 600 women was held in January 2022.
The APC Progressive National Women Conference was aimed at converging progressives women from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT to chart a way forward on the role of women in party processes, business and governance. The Conference which climaxed in a resounding success introduced transformative initiatives and projects like the Progressive Young Women Forum (PYWF), Progressive Women Academy, APC Women Lobby Group, Progressive Women Trust Fund and the Progressive Women Movement.
These initiatives played a crucial role in mobilizing and empowering APC women which contributed significantly to the Party’s success in the 2023 elections. Her tenure as the National Women Leader of the APC’s CECPC not only solidified her position as a prominent advocate for women’s visibility and inclusivity but also left a lasting legacy of positive change and unity within the party and the Nation at large.
A graduate of International Studies and Diplomacy from the Benson Idahosa University with a Diploma in Law from the Rivers State College of Arts and Sciences, a Master’s degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the National Open University of Nigeria and an ongoing Executive Master’s in Business Administration (EMBA) from the esteemed University of Abuja (Nigeria), Hon. Stella has shown exceptional hunger for growth and development which she brings to bare in her roles and responsibilities in public office. She is a string believer of continuous learning as is evident in the numerous certificate programs she has acquired from globally renowned institutions such as Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (USA), the University of Virginia (USA), INSEAD Business School (France), University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School (UK), Pan Atlantic University’s Enterprise Development Center (Nigeria), and Columbia Business School in New York (USA).
Hon. Stella Okotete has demonstrated unflinching commitment and patriotism towards the Nigerian nation from her days at the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, which she observed at Kebbi State, her early entry into the political space providing political leadership at various level, to her appointment as Special Assistant on MDG to the Delta State Governor and several other roles geared towards contributing her quota to nation building. We believe Hon. Stella’s recent appointment as Minister Designate is a reflection of her diligence, selfless service and recognition of youthful competence and service.
We urge naysayers and detractors to refrain from sacrificing competence, productiveness, efficiency on the altar of politics through the sponsorship of unfounded falsehood, treachery and fabrications targeted at disparaging the hard-earned reputation of Hon. Stella in advancement of their selfish agenda. Our nation has suffered enough of leadership inadequacies and brain drain, it is now time to put our best to work and preserve our intellectual resources.
We thank President Tinubu for restoring hope to the youths and giving them a reason to believe that the youths and women have a critical stake in his government. We believe this is just the beginning even as we look forward to more youthful appointments. We also congratulate Hon. Stella Okotete on her appointment as a Minister Designate. This is a call to more service to her fatherland and we have absolute confidence that she will exceed the expectations of Nigerians.
Abbas is the National Coordinator, National Youth & Women Advocacy Group