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Doris Uzoka-Anite: Balancing gender affirmative action with competency in public service

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Since the inception of civilian rule with the return to democracy in 1999, following several years of military interregnum, every democratically elected president, from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the most recent, president Muhammadu Buhari, has often brought into their administration individuals who pioneered landmark initiatives and whose outstanding performances in national service earned such cabinet member the description as ‘super minister.’

Regardless of gender and age, the revolutionary achievements of each of these ministers distinguished them so much that their successes and contributions to the government often formed part of the major plank and overall assessment as the yardstick for measuring the success and describing the accomplishment of the administration that they served.
The unique policy reforms and trailblazing impacts of a few of these past ministers, at their time, remains inked in the consciousness of many Nigerians who often look out for and desire a repeat of such personalities in every subsequent administration. Prof. Dora Okunyili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, and a few others remain major reference points in understanding what individuals can bring onboard public sector governance and public administration. These individuals, regardless of their gender and the fact that they functioned in a largely male-dominated environment, excelled gallantly and were able to set new paradigms in public policy implementation and public resources management with accountability in their respective areas.

Whereas the national gender policy (NGP) was formulated in 2006 with a 35% affirmative action demanding that all appointive positions should at least reserve 35% for women with the well-thought-out policy advocating that women should be involved in the governance process at every level, it is evident that some individuals have no gender barriers in their capacity to deliver tangible solutions. This policy also mandates every government to necessarily offer women key strategic placement in the governance process so as to ensure that there is systematic inclusion and not exclusive of women from the governance framework.

While many have continued to advocate that the national gender policy should be respected and implemented to the satisfaction of the core principles enshrined in the policy document, it is essential to acknowledge that certain women have high standards with respect to private and public performances that the affirmative action becomes a credible affirmation that is based on competency and accomplishments which, on its own, set a tune for higher responsibilities and higher expectations.

At the commencement of this current administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the recent crucial step in producing a list of ministerial nominees after a careful and painstaking selection process, many Nigerians are eagerly looking forward to discovering new talents and spotting the high-flying members of the cabinet when finally inaugurated and set on motion. With women making up 25% of the ministerial list, it does appear that the administration is mindful of affirmative action; however careful attempt has also been made to include women with a track record of impressive achievements. One such person is the current commissioner of finance in Imo state, a trained medical doctor turned financial guru with long-standing experience in one of Nigeria’s tier-one banks.

Doris Uzoka-Anite presents a new hope for the new administration to birth another super minister. Advantaged by her age, plus record years of high impact and top Level positions in the private sector, she brings onboard enormous strength with multiple capabilities, her record past private sector accomplishments and financial milestones, her education as a medical doctor venturing into financial services, and making a successful of her career until she was headhunted for public sector role as commissioner of finance by Governor Hope Uzodinma speaks volume of her prospect in changing the cause of history and moving the needle significantly higher.

Imbued with exceptional leadership strength and skills, her career trajectory provides a complete dose of satisfaction given the top-rate accomplishments she has recorded over the past two decades and the innovative organizational transformations she has led both in the private and public sector, especially as serving commissioner of finance. With career straddling over 20 years of continuous result-driven performance, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite has dedicated herself to accomplishing giant professional strides in finance and public sector management. Her expertise lies strongly in strategic financial management, process improvement, and innovation, backed by a strong analytical skillset and pragmatic approach to problem-solving.

A Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) with an MBA from the London School of Economics and certifications from Oxford University, New York University Stern School of Business, and high-level training programs at Goldman Sachs and CitiBank London, Doris represents the 1% of the 1% within the financial sector globally.

Her growth trajectory clearly shows that she possesses the unquenchable passion for personal growth and poise to contribute to overall institutional and national development with a view to discovering new ways and adopting smarter processes in accomplishing collective institutional objectives. With a resounding commitment to excellence, she has achieved remarkable successes in both the private banking sector and the public sector, where she currently oversees the finances, revenue, strategic planning, and administration of a very important portfolio of government as the Commissioner of Finance charge with the task of coordinating the economy in Imo State.

Under her leadership as the Group Treasurer at Zenith Bank where she managed FX trades in excess of $4Billion and supervised N10 Trillion worth of transactions, her record performances earned her several novel awards for her astute and unwavering dedication to the bank’s vision and mission as she played significant roles in successfully ensuring an increase in Zenith Bank’s profits by over 200% within a span of two years, which significantly contributed to the bank’s growth and success in the financial market. In her current role as Commissioner of Finance, She has played a pivotal role in enhancing the state’s revenue generation by implementing comprehensive tax administration systems and leveraging technology to drive efficiency and transparency. Her contributions extend to various areas, including education, talent management, and technology where she has championed the use of educational technology in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, as well as spearheaded successful World Bank-funded projects.

Having served on prestigious Presidential committees and being a member of the National Economy Subcommittee, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite actively participated in policy design, economic frameworks, and developmental strategies, working towards higher success on a national and global level. And as Commissioner for Finance charged with the onerous task of co-coordinating the economy in Imo State with a clear mandate to effectively manage and grow the economy and finances of the state, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite has set clear agenda in revenue optimization by identifying all revenue sources and potentials value adds, carried out enumeration and census of properties and businesses to identify taxable assets and project revenue targets. She has also ensured proper revenue retention by blocking all revenue leakages using a combination of talent management and automating the revenue process. In addition, she also developed a proper enforcement team, and internal control mechanisms to enforce and ensure compliance.

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Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite as an outstanding administrator has also instituted a functional HR optimization framework ensuring proper and corresponding human resource sourcing, training, and capacity building across relevant sub-units and agencies within government. She has also automated processes and assembled an IT team to deploy the right technology to solve all tax issues. She ensured that all tax payment channels were automated and that all collections were done centrally. But beyond these core responsibilities, this accomplished relationship builder has developed a cross organizational and cross-cultural cooperation with the various federal government agencies that collects taxes to get data and information and also has ensured relationships and partnership with people who could help and support the state government, including other commissioners, civil servants, and consultants within the framework of public administration.

Beyond the demands of 35% inclusion of women in government, the outstanding record of achievements of Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite presents the new administration with a double accomplishment of fulfilling the affirmative action as recognized and accepted while filling a strategic position with the most accomplished and qualified individual who possesses a sound capability for result driven leadership.

Ikem (Ph.D.) is a public policy analyst and media consultant