Maimuna Kolo is the First Female Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Niger State. She worked as a newscaster, presenter and producer before she was called to serve.
Even though she enjoys her job as a Press Secretary, Maimuna has not had it easy working with 13 men under her, especially as a woman who is married and from the North, where women are expected to be seen only in ‘submissive’ positions.
In this interview with Sola Abe for Woman.NG, Maimuna talks about her experience as the First Female Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Niger State.
My name is Maimuna Kolo. I grew up in Jos but marriage brought me to Niger State where I started work with the state television. But before I started work, I’ve had this passion for news. I would sit in front of the mirror when I was younger, take my story book and practise how to read news.
When I wrote JAMB, I registered Mass Communication and because they say that women in the media are loose, my dad didn’t like it. I wish he was alive to see how far I’ve gone, he would have been really proud of me and I know he is proud of me wherever he is.
When She Started Her Job
I started with this administration but before then, I was with the state television as a presenter, producer, newscaster before the appointment came.
How She Got The Appointment
I will say it’s luck because I didn’t lobby for it. I didn’t go to beg for it because I never even knew the deputy governor before now. I just mentioned it in the right place that I would love to be the press secretary to the deputy governor and then, I was just called to come and collect my appointment letter.
Experience As The First Female
It has not really been easy because when I got my appointment, the men were not ready to accept me as their boss. Being the first female to get to that position since the creation of Niger state, no woman has ever been the press secretary to the governor or the deputy, so I was the first female and it would interest you to know that I am the chairperson of the union in my chapter.
The men were not ready to accept me and I have 13 men under me, including the driver. So, there was a lot of difficult challenges especially in the office. The protocol department was not ready to give me my dues.
Sometimes, if we have an assignment, they don’t really tell me on time, they tell me almost close to the programme time. The men couldn’t believe that a woman and a married one for that matter would be given that kind of position.
A man walked up to me and said, “Madam, congratulations. We heard you’ve been given the press secretary to the wife of the deputy governor.” I said, “No, I’m not the press secretary to the wife of the deputy governor but to the deputy governor.”
The man said, “no, a woman?” and I said “yes, a woman.” But then, I thank God for everything. Other press secretaries have been changed during these three years but I have been here. Even the state governor had to commend my effort because his own press people were not doing too good and he asks why a woman is doing better than them.
On overcoming challenges
When we travel outside the country and sometimes within the country, I’ll be the only woman in the convoy. When we go for programmes, sometimes, I find out that I’m the only woman in that programme.
Normally, I have to sit behind my principal because he reads speeches and sometimes he needs to ask me some questions. Anywhere he goes, I’m behind him.
There was a time we went to this programme in Kaduna and we had the Emirs there, the Sultan was there too. All these religious leaders were there and it happened that I was the only female there. When I went in, people were like, “what is a woman doing here?”
I wasn’t really comfortable because of the religious leaders and being a muslim and married woman, some would have expected me to put a veil on my head but I didn’t do that.
With time, I was able to overcome that, I had more confidence. I can go anywhere, interact with anybody and I can say anything.
What her position means for Northern woman
It shows that there is no job for a man. Women can do all jobs. If I can do it, I don’t see any reasons why any other woman can’t do it. I have four kids, I’m married, I know how I balance it. I don’t have holidays, I can leave home as early as 5:30am. Sometimes, my husband has gone to the mosque, my kids are going to the mosque as well and I tell them my schedule.
Sometimes, I say my prayers at the deputy governor’s house and sometimes I come home as late as 1am so if I can do it, I don’t see the reason why any woman cannot do it.
How she spends time with her family
I thank God for my husband. He’s a broadcast journalist, so he knows what the job entails. He knows how it is, so he gives me his full support. When I get back home, no matter how late it is, I just don’t go back to my room to lay down and sleep, I sit with my children.
We chat, we play, even if it is for an hour, I sit with them before I go into my room. I try to make time for them when we don’t have a programme or activities.
I love to cook. I think if I am not in media, I will have opened a restaurant. I love reading too. I also use my spare time to visit friends and families and go around to see what is happening.
Reactions Of Women To Her Position
Some of them look at me with admiration, some look at me with envy and some, like I must have slept my way up there. Some look at me like a loose woman, “its not a job for a woman, so what is she doing there?” Some men also think like that.
There was a man that told me that if I were you, I wouldn’t do this kind of job. But I keep on telling them that I love my job. It depends on how you parade yourself, how you show yourself. if you show them that you have dignity and you respect yourself, they will respect you, but if you are loose, then they take you for granted.
What Her Job Has Taught Her
The deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Muhammad Ketso is the best boss I’ve worked with. I can’t ask for a better boss. He cares so much about his staff. He knows all my children’s name. He’s an understanding man, he’s gentle and he carries everybody along.
He always tell me that “whenever you’re doing anything, make sure you carry everybody along so that they can trust you. Be truthful in everything you do and don’t try to legalise illegality and you’ll be successful in whatever you do.”
I’ve learnt a lot from working with the deputy governor. It has broaden my horizon. I’ve met so many people-the good, bad and ugly. Sometimes, you meet people that will walk up straight to you and insult you or your principal but I don’t really get angry at that. It has been a good experience and I’m enjoying it and I love what I’m doing.”