MEET NIGERIA’S FIRST FEMALE CLEARING AND FORWARDING AGENT, PRINCESS BIDDY ADELE
Dear Readers, on this special edition of our magazine we bring to you Nigeria’s first female licensed clearing and forwarding agent, PRINCESS BIDDY ADELE. Despite her busy schedule with business and politics our correspondent was able to get hold of her and today we bring her undiluted motivating story to you. Enjoy…!
Madam can we please know you?
Am Princess Biddy Adele
Tell us about your family
Am happily married with five children one of them recently made me a grandmother.
Tell us a little on your educational background
I had my primary education in Lagos at LADI- LAK nursery and primary school Yaba and my secondary education in now Delta state after then I proceeded to England for secretarial studies and when I returned I went to ABUBAKA TAFAWA BELEWA University in Bauchi to obtained degree in Business Management.
What have been your motivations in life?
What has always motivated me is God and success; I have always wanted to succeed all my life.
How long have you been into clearing and forwarding?
I actually started clearing and forwarding as far back as 1985
What exactly gave you the drive?
Like I have earlier said I read secretarial studies and I was supposed to be what they call a flying secretary so when I got married my husband never liked that and am such a person who never wanted to stay back home and be a complete house wife and from a very early age I knew I had so much responsibilities so had to work. I had this family friend of mine whose husband was a clearing and forwarding agent and I saw him a success, I told myself why don’t I take a delve into this? That alone gave me the drive.
What was the process of obtaining the license like then?
Then it wasn’t like how it is now, you had to do a whole lot; go to Lagos get books like the one we call custom nomenclatures, read, do interview and a lot of that before you would be given the license, by the time I proved myself I was licensed.
How tasking has it been in this career as a woman?
If I may say something I don’t think it has been too tasking, I have been asked this same question several time by other media houses, anything I do I never see it as tasking, because somehow I see myself as a woman that found herself in a man’s world, have really not seen anything I do as a tasking thing, I only see it as a job, like I tell people when am in this field I don’t see myself as a woman. Because this is a job I have done even when am pregnant I go with my containers to Aba, Onitsha, etc. sometimes I have to leave as early as 6am to trail my containers to the way house a times I get home really late. Even now that am politicking am fine.
What do you see as your edge over others?
I think the only thing I see as my edge is I pray a lot, if I want to do something that maybe is really competitive, I already know what to do, that’s to go down on my knees, by the time am done, I would have it easy while others would probably be struggling. So that’s my edge over everything I do.
They say what a man can do a woman also can do it better. In this specialization considering the challenges, do you think a woman can do it better?
Of course, at least in Lagos, though you haven’t heard a lot about their success because they are just starting, but with time you will. I remember when we go for our NEC meetings I am usually the only woman amongst a two hundred men for example, in one of those times the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo asked “what is this woman doing here?” and they told him I am part of them he was awed.
It’s rare to hear Nigerians talk good about the Nigerian Custom Service; have you also had a bad experience with them in the course of time?
To be very frank with you I have never, there is no custom officer I will call that don’t come to my aid, the truth is customs are not what people perceive they are, they just try to ensure things are done the right way. But because we Nigerians we try to be too smart, they only prove to us that they know what they are doing, and as usual when that comes to our disfavor we get upset and tag them names. We forget that at the end of the day when things are not nicely done and anything negative happens to government revenue, the custom officers get the probe. So sometimes we push them a lot to do what they don’t want to do which is not right.
From your view, how has the change of government affected clearing and forwarding?
The only thing that has been done to clearing and forwarding is what everyone is talking about with regards to the FOREX. These 41 controversial items, ordinarily you go to the bank and those things are sort for but now it’s not like it used to be, I have a client that was able to import just once or twice the whole of last year and that is not good, he is in Onitsha, even during December he couldn’t do anything because of this FOREX thing, and that’s just one person, it’s also affecting other importers. So I think instead of giving business to other West African countries let them give us an open hand to do our business, so long as this things can be monitored through the bank, it makes no sense people cannot source for funds to do business. This is the aspect of the change am not so comfortable with.
We discovered that only a few women go into this field of work, what could be the reason?
I think men succeeded in making this job look so herculean and frightful, like when I first started I thought it was so tedious but this is a job I later did even with pregnancy. I think that’s the reason we have only a few women in this field, but gradually they are coming up now.
Being a woman of expertise, how close do you think our country (Nigeria) is in competing with the third world country in the area of more importation and less exportation?
I don’t see us any closer, to me it’s like a mirage; we have a whole lot of work to do.
Congratulations, you’re presently one of the first women in Nigeria to be given clearance by the Custom as a registered clearing and forwarding agent, what’s the feeling like?
Not one of, I am the first woman clearing agent in Nigeria, it makes me feel very tough, but very humble and grateful to God
What more do you intend to achieve with this feat?
A lot, my dream some day is if God permits, is to be the first female governor of my state or president of this country, that’s how huge my dreams are.
Finally what’s your advice to women out there who are scared of delving into this side of business?
My advice to them is, there is nothing there, it’s just a job, and all they need do is to be honest, because this job requires a lot of honesty. And also one thing they need not to let go is integrity.
It was nice talking with you.