Safiya Demola Seriki’s Brain & Brawn Unleashed …Untold Story of the woman who created BPE website

Safiya Demola Seriki making a point to the GDA

The Resume

Safiya Demola Seriki
(formerly Omosholape
Safiya Shaba
, a lawyer and IT expert) is not your ordinary day Nigerian
beauty. She is many things rolled into one; a technocrat, a business woman, a
motivational speaker, an Information Technology Consultant and a very religious

The former Deputy Director at the Bureau of Public Enterprise under the
reflective regime of Ex FCT Minister, Nasir
Ahmad El-Rufai
is one of the first brains to import internet technology
into Nigeria during the beginning of the new millennium. Blessed with an
extra-ordinary brain coupled with a British diction, Omosholape who became a Director at the BPE at a very young age of twenty six is a walking encyclopedia of
innovative wisdom. In one sculptured quantity, Omosholape is gifted with brain, beauty, innocence, charm, humility
and warmth. Apart from her angelic look which stand her out and led your
Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog asabeafrika
to discover her at her new office on Allen
, Lagos where she has taken over her mother’s general provision business—Bisket Stores
to another level; the Niger
Northern Nigeria born
beauty’s brain is not cast here in Nigeria. Her curriculum vitae will prove us
right. Blessed with a first degree in Business
from London Guildhall University (1995-1998)
Omosholape later capped her legal excellence with a master degree in
Information Technology from  Middlesex University, United Kingdom
between 1998 and millennium year 2000. She was called to the Nigerian law school and became a
barrister at law in the following year. Apart from having career experience at Goldmansach the leading global economic
investment company after her degree program in the UK Sholape’s curriculum vitae was already filled up with great
exposures before Nasir El-Rufai
caught her for Nigeria in year 2001.
She worked as a project manager for LLOYDS
TSB of London
as project manager (Business System) between December 1998
and October 2000. 

Safiya….’An innovative technocrat
turn business woman’

She later moved to EGG
Banking of London
as project manager (Banking Online Wireless Application
Protocol) between November 2000 and March 2001. Between March 2001 and June
2001 she was at Scottish Widow’s
, UK as Project
Manager (Change Control) and that ended her promising career in the United Kingdom as an IT Consultant and
business development expert of repute. During a holiday to Nigeria in the
summer of year 2001, the then enfant terrible of the Nigerian Bureau of Public
Enterprise Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai came
in contact with Omosholape in Abuja
through a contact and that marked the beginning of a splendid career line for
father’s land for close to a decade. After an encounter with Shafiya, Nasir declared there and then that the new British returnee was the
brand of candidate he needed among his revolution brimming team at the BPE of

She was quickly fast tracked into the World Bank Diaspora Elite Project and was appointed Deputy Director/ IT Adviser to the DG.
She was there from 2001 to 2004 when she moved to the Federal Ministry of
Information under Minister Emeka Chikelu.
But before leaving BPE, she achieved
the greatest mark of being the first Nigerian to build the BPE’s website which
stands tall till date. At the Federal Ministry of Information, she recorded
great achievements as SA/ IT Adviser to
the Honorable Minister
and achieved so much under a World bank/UNDPI
contract that saw her creating a new website that disseminated information to
Nigerians in Diaspora and created a new image for the country abroad.  Today, Barrister
Omosholape Safiya Demola Seriki
is the Chief
Executive officer
of Demani Bisket
Stores Ltd
which is into whole sale of Swiss Voil, French lace, Polish lace
for men, Atiku, Oganza, Aso-Oke, Chantilly lace, Egyptian Cotton, Guinea
Brocade, Ankara, Satin, Chiffon, Jewelries, Gele, and other accessories of
fashion and style.
This very elegant woman is equally
the second daughter of famous Lagos business woman of repute and philanthropist
extra-ordinary, Lady Evangelist Bisi Dan
aka Bisket has turned
around her mum’s Allen Avenue, Ikeja Bisket
into a new business haven with conglomerate of small scale businesses  under
a new innovation tagged Demani Bisket
(A Combination of her mum’s old name and her company name)  This Beautiful woman of style and charisma
opened her doors to asabeafrika in a
recent encounter in the city of Lagos. Enjoy the excerpts.
Safiya..’Dad and Mum both agreed i should read law even
though I wanted something else’
My First Love/Passion
London trained lawyer and IT expert opened up with an appreciation to God and
why God comes first in her endeavors. “First and foremost I thank God and I
believe everything I can ever be is as a result of His compassion. I strongly
believe that we are here first and foremost to worship God and give Him the
entire honor. Secondly, to care for our family; with God first you can never go
wrong with any other thing. I enjoy serving God because I believe He is phenomenal
and a lot of people are not really inclined with His awesomeness. They don’t
understand how powerful God is because once you understand how powerful God is;
then it closes the barrier that hinders you from achieving your goals. Because
people don’t know who God is, they go and seek the support of other people to
try and help them accomplish what they could ask God for. 

Mrs. Omosholape Demola Seriki….My BPE experience was a great deal..

They do it the wrong
way round, then things are delayed. So, I think first and foremost everything
is only achievable through God; then I believe in hard work. I believe in
learning and I believe in always trying to impact my knowledge to other people.
And I like people that I can talk with who can stimulate my mind and I can
learn from them too. I like reading books that has to do with the personal
history of people; autobiographies, profiles and biographies of great people
because i find it really interesting. I also like sitting with older people too
because I feel that you can learn a lot from their experiences because that
gives you an understanding of what they have gone through and what life is
really about. So, I enjoy the company of people like that as well and again, if
I see someone that I find that has achieved certain things, I try to understand
their minds and imbibe their knowledge. It is not about their money but the
peculiarity of their success which is much greater than any interest. God built
people in a particular way and if you can understand that, you can actually
copy it and it helps drives your success in life. Some people are given that
gift naturally, some people work on it like a mirror and it helps them achieve
their goals. So, in sitting with people I try to understand them, to get where
they are coming from”.

“What I love with government of that
era is that you come up with an idea that you think is nothing; and you seeing
it build into something else. They will garnish it and turn it into something
else, you see your baby grow and come of age that is something that I enjoyed
about being in government. And then, when you also have good leadership. A
leader that truly wants change. I will not work with anyone that doesn’t want
change because when you work with people that don’t want change, your intention
to reform would always be misinterpreted”

My Life of Re-invention
Safiya…’My ideas in government had
far reaching effects’.

career, Shafiya said “I want to be the best in my endeavor; if I am in IT, I
want to be the best, even when I was in the law school, I was very motivated
and I put my heart in everything, even when we had debates I will make sure I
put in my best even though I was a bit trying to get out of the crowd but I
said to myself I must make an impact and I went out for the debate and I won.
So, it is basically about challenging yourself, once you challenge yourself,
you develop a muscle. And that muscle makes you to be able to withstand other
things. So, life is all about challenges. I enjoy challenges because I have
always been a contractor in the IT sector. Apart from being a lawyer, I am an
IT consultant.  In IT, you have a lot of
challenges. Ten, fifteen years ago, IT was a very new sector even in the UK and
in Nigeria. There were very few people that had the knowledge then. So, you
have to keep learning and you have to keep re-inventing yourself, then I was a
consultant. So, anywhere you went to talk business, they expected that anything
they throw at your table, you must deliver. And don’t you say you are a
consultant, if you are a consultant you must deliver. 

You don’t say you are a
consultant and you have nothing to say, as a consultant you must deliver, so at
night you have to go and read, you have to consult your books and talk to other
consultants to find out to say ‘oh, this problem, how do you go about it’. It
was during that era that I became ready and prepared; it took me away from
being scared to read, from being scared to develop myself. I had to constantly
develop myself; so I had to spend a lot of money on training courses. I spent a
lot of money on books. And if i see a book that I find interesting, even if I
meet the person on the train, I will make enquiries and say ‘Sir or Ma, I can
see this book? It is interesting, please, who is the author?’ and I go out to
get a copy, curiosity. I always enjoy things like that, so, therefore I have
always stuffed up my knowledge with books. And even with motivational spiritual
books as well, I make sure I understand things from the spiritual realm as well
because there is so much there about human existence and there is nothing new
in this world. So, God has a framework for which the world operates and we
could see it from Christians, from Muslims. And even the so called
traditionalists, there are certain things between Christianity and Islam that
they follow. So, I like listening to sermons. I listen to Islamic channels but
at the same time, I listen to Christian channels as well. I have certain
passages that I listen and I follow because the prophet said wherever you get
wisdom and knowledge, just know that that knowledge is coming from God. So far
it says something to you and you feel something inside, God is passing a
message to you and you must make use of it”.
Safiya Demola Seriki…..’It is hard to change people’.
Why I studied Law and IT
you peruse Shafiya’s CV, you will marvel at two things; her extra-ordinary
phase of achieving career success within such a short time and her gift of
making law a first degree and IT a second degree at the master level, how did
she achieved from the two extremes—arts and science? “Well, my going to study
law was actually my mother. From when I was young, I would argue about almost
everything and she is like ‘Oh, you have to be a lawyer’. And I was like ‘No, I
want to go and study business admin’. Because I wanted to be a business woman
and my mother will say to me ‘Why are you going to study business admin? We
Yoruba don’t respect such a discipline. It is not a profession. Business
Administration is not a profession; so, it is very impressive that you dump
that and go and study law. And before I knew it, in my application form at the
university, because I came back from England to sit for my exams in Nigeria; so
in my application to ABU (Ahmadu Bello University) I noticed that my dad
(Alhaji Mohammed Shaba) had filled in law and I got into ABU to study law.
Then, reluctantly I started sitting for class. And before I knew it there were sporadic
strike actions, I had to go back to England because there were too much strikes
in the Nigerian education sector. 

Safiya Demola Seriki…’You can’t change people, you can only lead them’

At England, I had the option to actually
change it. When I enrolled in England I was asked what I specifically wanted to
do, so I said ‘okay I can actually do business admin because law would be
challenging but since I have started studying law in Nigeria and I actually
found it interesting, I enrolled to study law in England. So I studied law as
my first degree but towards the end when I was finishing, IT was becoming
famous in Europe. There was a boom in IT in the UK and technology generally
became the currency of career development and I was curious and meeting so many
people that were into IT and everything. I was supposed to go into patent law
and I said ‘ok, fine, the world is going to need lawyers that needs to
understand IT in order to be able to protect a lot of patent and infringements’.
And I studied infringement law at
the university. So, I said ‘ok, fine’. I now went to do a curse on oracle that
was data base development. I said ‘let me just do this three months course, if
it makes sense, then I will probably do my masters in IT’. But while doing the
course for few months I found it very interesting. So, I now said, ‘ok, you
know what, this is interesting’. But then at that stage, because not many
people had studied IT, there were jobs going for like three, four hundred to
five hundred pounds a day. So, I now said ‘Ok if I studied this, it will make a
whole lot of difference. 
Then, I was getting offers to come and work and I met
a lot of other people in IT and they were making a lot of good money but then I
looked at it and I said ‘Well, the problem now is that this particular industry
is booming and there is going to be a period when there is going to be
competition. And it is going to be a completion that not just anybody can enter
the market. They will start looking at people that has degrees. And have
qualifications in it, so I just said ‘you know what? Let me go and do masters
in IT’. So I now went to go and do my in IT instead of just going into the
job market”. “After that I immediately returned home (Nigeria) and my mum was
like “Ah, you have to go to law school, go to law school”. So, I was pressured
into that and then I went to law school before returning to the UK for jobs
waiting for me. My first job was giving me thirty thousand pounds per annum
before I joined the Scottish Widows organization”.
Safiya Demola Seriki with her former boss Mallam Nasir El-Rufai while at BPE
How I met Nasir El-Rufai.
Shafiya reeled out her working experience in
the UK before fate brought her back to Nigeria where she had her first
appointment at the BPE “My first job in England was at EGG Banking (England). The Scottish
Widows Investment
was my second job. So, immediately I just applied and
then I started contracting. I became a contractor because there were lots of
men in the industry and they used to laugh at me because these guys were just
too serious and were like a monopoly to the emerging IT industry. They will sit
down on Saturdays when everybody was partying and they will hold strategy
meetings on what next for the industry; where are we going to? What skill do
you have? What can we do together? What did you learn in your office? What can
you bring on the table? These guys were really braining and the way they were
thinking was really interesting. But then, they will make fun of me; they will
say what are you doing here? And I will just keep wondering but I found it
interesting you know. So, at that time I was contracting and my mum was like
‘you can’t stay in London forever, you have to come back to Nigeria’. She kept
saying that to me and I was like ‘okay, when I get a break, I will come’ and
then, I got a break. That was in 2002 or thereabout.

Then I came home and my
mother was like ‘listen, you have to get a job’ and I was like ‘I am not going
to get a job for the sake of getting a job’ I don’t believe in it, If I am
going to do something, I want to deliver. Do something that is very impactful,
because down there in the UK, I never thought I could survive it and I
conquered, so what next? So, she tried to convince me that ‘oh, Nigeria is not
like that; you just keep your mind crossed’. I said okay and believe me, I got
offers but I insisted that I was not going to take a job for the sake of taking
a job. Then I had a meeting with someone because my mum will always say to
people ‘oh, this is my daughter, she is good at this and that, and someone will
come and say ‘There is an opening for you in that bank’ and I will say ‘ok,
don’t bother. I want a job that will really challenge me’. That was when
someone heard about me and the person now said ‘Oh, come to the Presidency, we
can get you a job’. And I am like ‘No, I don’t want to work for the sake of
working’. Then someone else was passing and the person heard and said ‘Oh, we
know the kind of person that will be looking for someone like you—Nasiru El-Rufai. He said you need to
have a meeting with Nasiru, before then I have never heard of Nasir El-Rufai. I was asked to go see him and i said no. So, they
called me and said ‘we told you to go’ and I said yes, but you didn’t book an
appointment, I can’t just go somewhere without proper information. And they
said ‘Ah, ah, why are you so English?’. It was Dr. (Aliyu) Modibbo then. 

He was then SA to President Obasanjo
and he eventually became minister (FCT) twice after then. So, he was like ‘you
are too English, what is wrong with you? That they are waiting for you, Ok, now
can you go? They are waiting for you”. So, I said “Fine”. So, I went. Then Nasiru said ‘sit down’ and we chatted
and did everything; and he said ‘Ok, I am looking for people like you
bla-bla-bla. And I said ‘ok, I can come and do some things. He said “No, you can’t
come and go. You have to work here Nine-to-Five. He said ‘I want commitment, I
am not looking for consultants, I want in-house people. I want to build
in-house capacity.  That is what I want”.
He now said ‘the only problem now is that you people from London, you want to
get paid the way you are paid in the UK’ and I said ‘Yes, sir, I have built
that reputation and I have an on-going career over there’. And he was like ‘ok,
we have a program with World Bank
and with UNDP and USAID. And because they engage a lot of Nigerians in
Diaspora, so, you would fit in’ and I was like ‘Okay, Fine!’ But he now said
‘it could take some time’ and I was like for how long? And he was like it could
take few weeks and I was like ‘Listen, I booked my ticket, it is going to
expire and I need to get back to the UK. And he was like let me see what I can
do but please, let’s talk from time to time. But why don’t you come and work
and then, eventually, your salary would be sorted out?’ And I was like but… and
he said ‘If I see you everyday, I will remember’. But if you go back to the UK,
that is it’. I said, ‘Ok, I will think about it’ and he was like ‘Ok, give me
two weeks we are still in talks with World Bank’.  So, I kept faith with him. It was almost the
weekend before my ticket expired, and I had several meetings and people were
like it is not possible, there is going to be Nigerian factor, you might not
get it after all’. Then I now called Nasiru
and I said ‘Excuse me, my ticket is going to expire’. And he said ‘oh, I am in
Lagos, if you can wait I will see you when I return and I was like ‘sir, my
ticket is about to expire, I have to go back to the UK and he said ‘You know
what? Can you trust me?’, and he said ‘Go and start work, we would be able to
sort something out’, that ‘you just got to trust, because if you go, that is
it’. He said ‘we have already had talks with them but whatever we can afford,
even if it is just to pay for your food and things like that, don’t worry. We
would sort it out’. So, that was how, basically, I started working with Nasiru El-Rufai at the BPE”.
Safiya Demola Seriki with her former boss Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and colleagues at BPE
Why I dumped London for El-Rufai
the reason behind her conviction that working with Nasir El-Rufai at the expense of her London career was the best, Shafiya went like this “I think my mum
didn’t want me to go back, and then I spoke to other like minds and they were
like ‘well, it is a growing opportunity’. The Nigeria thing doesn’t just work
out that way, you can not just look at it from one side. That yes, you can make
money in the UK, you can end up with a two million pounds portfolio but you are
still a second class citizen but at home, it may take a slower space but the
fact remains that you are at home. You are part of the system and that is what
is most important. Because if you are not part of the system and you leave, you
wont be able to get back. So, don’t look at the money. Just be focus and then
you are even lucky to be a candidate of such an organized agency like BPE, so
many people want to get in there. Nasiru
(el-Rufai) doesn’t hire anybody. So, you are very lucky”. They were like “you
are lucky, you are lucky, you know”. 

And I remembered then, we all used to meet
at British Council (Abuja) Roof top.
There we would have different lectures, discussions and some people would be
like ‘oh, what are your doing, are you staying here now? and I will be like
yes’ and someone will be like ‘yeah, she has gotten a job with El-Rufai’ and they will be like ‘Oh, it
is somebody like her he hires, once they can speak English, and they have
diction with a heavy resume (Laughter). That he just want people like that,
that once he sees their resume, that they have delivered this, delivered that,
he would steal the person’. So there was that joke always passed around about
me and people were like ‘you are just lucky, you shouldn’t miss this
opportunity’. And my mum also put a lot of pressure on me; so, I had no reason
to leave for London any more, I had to get my sister to get all my (English)
Suits and send them down home and I eventually resumed work at the BPE”.
Safiya Demola Seriki with her former boss Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and colleagues at BPE
How El-Rufai’s leadership style
killed “Culture Shock”
someone who had the professional opportunity of working with a multi-racial
crowd in the Diaspora, what was the culture shock like for Shafiya? “The culture
shock was not too pronounced. First of all, the environment was very good. BPE under Nasiru, Mrs. Irene Chigbue
and Bala Mohammed was a fantastic
experience altogether. BPE under Nasiru’s predecessors, when you were in there,
you won’t know you are in Nigeria. Not that Nigeria is bad but these guys made
sure that the money that was set aside to make staff comfortable was really
spent on what it was meant for. The whole place was comfortable; from the
driveway, everywhere was neat, everywhere was clean. Everybody had their own
computer. And in terms of commitment from management, the dedication was hundred
percent. From Nasiru through to the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar supported all that was done in BPE.  There was that support
that flowed all the way through. So, anything we needed was given immediately. 

For instance if you needed something to be done, when you ask Malam Nasiru, immediately he will say ‘is
this your need? Ok, fine’.  BPE was a country away from Nigeria
under Nasir El-Rufai. They even said
BPE did not reflect what other
government bodies were. Because everything was so different, everybody had to
become computer literate.  Because I
remembered some of the Directors, Nasiru
gave them a few months to all go and learn how to use their tablets, that
if they didn’t he was going to get rid of them or something like that. So, he
made sure everybody was computer literate. Everybody was communicating through
e-mail. Everything was working; so it was left for you to work. You didn’t have
an excuse not to work. I would come up with an idea and I will have a meeting
with him (Nasir), have a meeting with my boss, Mrs. Irene Chigbue because I was directly under her, she was my
Senior Director and she supported everything I did.  So, I was always lucky with her coupled with
other Directors I worked with. They were always supportive of whatever I
wanted. So, if I came up with a vision, they were ever ready to promote it”.
Safiya Demola Seriki with her former boss Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and colleagues at BPE
How I created BPE Portal + El-Rufai’s
dynamic leadership
Shafiya told asabeafrika the story of her success at the BPE and how her genuine
intention led to the creation of the first portal for the Federal Government
agency “There were so many other projects that I initiated and I said ‘ok, why
don’t we use IT to incorporate how
people are going to communicate, let’s have an external portal where people can
reach us. The African Privatization
event became a platform; we had a conference where other countries in Africa
brought their privatization agencies to Abuja and the whole point was to learn
from each other, share knowledge and move on. 
How do we do that after the conference? So we had to create a website whereby everyone basically, in
the continent could see what is going on in Nigeria. 

Safiya..’Dad and Mum both agreed i should read
law even though i wanted something else’

Then we now had the back-up
side (Of the Internet) where other DGs, Directors could all communicate and you
could put up information on all the latest things you are doing. So we could
learn from each other; so that was one of the things that I introduced there.
And they were like ‘fine, fine, fine, come on board’. And we did that and they
provided the funding for the transformation. That was excellent. What I love with
government of that era is that you come up with an idea that you think is
nothing; and you seeing it build into something else. They will garnish it and
turn it into something else, you see your baby grow and come of age that is
something that I enjoyed about being in government. And then, when you also
have good leadership. A leader that truly wants change. I will not work with
anyone that doesn’t want change because when you work with people that don’t
want change, your intention to reform would always be misinterpreted. For
instance, there are times that people were very reluctant passing information
for the BPE portal because people
are used to a culture where they see information as something people get as a
favor but information is meant to be free. So, what we did with the BPE Portal was to ensure that every
basic information that you need to know about every ministry in Nigeria was
available for you on that portal. We got different departments, people you
could contact and things they were doing in such departments. We made sure we
provided information for people and it was because we had the kind of boss we
had (Nasir El-Rufai) he was someone that was outgoing; so he could sit with a
minister during council meetings and say ‘Listen, some of our guys are coming
from BPE, they need information, provide it for them’. 

So the minister will
give a directive to his staff and say ‘pass so-so information to the BPE and
they will write to us and they will give us information about their ministries.
And you know in privatization, we have a lot of foreign investors who need to
understand about a particular ministry before they relate with the ministry and
enterprises under it and as well, what it takes to transact business with the
ministry. They could carry out a transaction on-line; they will follow the
process from the bid all through and reach the advanced stage on-line. So, what
we did was to ensure that Nasiru (El-Rufai) or any Director didn’t need to
carry any document with them. Even during presentation, every presentation the
BPE gave or any staff gave, we upload them from our site. So, all you have to
do is go on the site in any part of the world and click away. And we also
assisted people with information that directed them to the right places as
well, if they have enquiries concerning Nigeria. But we made sure that we were
so dynamic that the portal runs for twenty four hours and we answer any
question at any given time and we would direct you to the right place and the
right department within three to twenty four hours. And if they don’t get back
to you, you get back to us; and then the DG (Nasir El-Rufai) made it a
corporate culture to be copied on every mail that was going out from any
department or Director. 

The CEO, Demani Bisket Stores Ltd thought over an issue
while chatting with asabeafrika

Any mail going out from me, Nasir is copied. So, if I send a message to a director that ‘we
need this’, he knows he has to respond because Nasiru knows. Then if I do it sometimes and there is no immediate
reply and I send a reminder and Nasiru sees
the reminder, they (Bearers) know that it could lead to an act of dereliction
on their own part. And you know what? Nasiru
was the one that suggested that idea as well, in order to drive proficiency
and kill bureaucratic bottle neck. So any agency that send in a mail or any
enquiry from any part of the world, Nasiru
has to be copied in and out in order to drive proficiency. We also have to
meet with every department once a week to get an update and then we work
closely with the marketing unit as well, because everything that is going on
internally and externally, we needed to be updated; so that particular site
carried everything, everything that was going on even if a department coughs,
if the DG has a meeting with the VP, everything they have with Directors,  external and internal encounters that relates
to information that we needed the public to find out about us are downloaded on
the portal. I had to sit in all those meetings as well, I had to sit in every
management meetings as well in order to determine which information needs to go
out for public consumption. I learnt a lot from all the experiences as well and
it helped me a lot in understanding how Government works at that level”.
Why BPE website became famous  

Safiya on phone with a customer

IT Skill and intelligence was the reason behind the success of the BPE Website
(portal) during her tenure as Deputy Director in charge of IT, she told asabeafrika why “I think first and
foremost, what happened was that there was an IT department at BPE and they
said ‘ok, we are waiting for World Bank, but this is a little area that no one
has touched, what can you do with it?’. So, I did a lot of research and said
‘ok, this little thing can be so much more’ that was how it became more like a
little mini-department on its own. Everyone was shocked and they said ‘oh, they
are still part of IT, why are they having their own department? They saw the
relevant of the site that it was now an information portal for not just BPE but
for Nigeria because there was no website then that you can get up-to-date information
on anything going on in the country; all the ministries and government departments
were on that website. I have had some situations where someone from the
American consulate said to me ‘Oh, My God, you guys are great. I love your site;
I got in so much information bla-bla-bla’. Because nobody had anywhere they
could get such information. Even we had flight information. All the schedules
of flights going into Abuja and the International Flights were streamed on-line
for our guests and visitors; we did that for foreigners coming in so that they
don’t miss their flights. Then we also had list of schools in Abuja as well, so
if you wanted to relocate to Nigeria, you have all that information to aide you
in your decision. It was just something that became a proper guide to make you
understand how things work in Nigeria. If you just wanted a guide for anything,
you could get it there. And another aim was to make the office paper-less. We
wanted to make everything transparent; if we are transparent, then 90% of
information should be on-line. So, all resolutions made were put on-line
immediately. They knew that they had to send it to the Web department to be

Safiya tells the GDA something about her lovely days
in government at the center

We also look at the aesthetics to make sure the information was
laid in a way everybody can understand. You can give people a lot of
information but if you don’t let people know how to make use of it, then, there
is a problem. So, the design took us quite a while. I had to seat down with
directors; sit down with different DGs and
to understand their departments and understand what they do. That enabled us to
be able to put it in a proper way. Your ability to break down the information
makes it easy for the person looking for the information to know how to access
the information. They can say, ‘this is what I am looking for’. But if you
don’t use the right word, then, they are lost. And that information is lost and
it is of no use to anybody. We had weather forecast, capital market and all the
trade transactions in BPE; everything was there as well. So, it was something
everybody within the organization found useful and the visits were phenomenal because
we were actually helping people. 

Barrister Safiya Demola Seriki….’We made BPE website popular
 because we offered multi-tasking services’

And people were happy because the kind of
information we were providing was up-to-date because our USP (Unique Selling
Point) was making sure that the information was up-to-date; and also giving
them more than what they wanted. Even people looking for jobs were given a
chance; if you say ‘oh, I am looking for a job in this discipline’ we will say
‘ok, go and speak to this ministry’. And we would equally try to connect you
with the ministry. We went beyond our role and that made sure our site was
hitting traffic. People will say ‘oh, I am about to travel, what time is
British Airways or Virgin Atlantic Air?’ And they will just quickly click and
the information hits them. At the same time, people know what is going on within
government. So, it was a lovely experience” 

(Watch out
for Part 2 of Safiya Demola Seriki’s interview
titled “WHY
48 hours from now on this