Editor’s Note: Rhoda and I were classmates in the university. We both graduated from law school in 2008. This week, I reconnected with her to see what she’s been up to. In this interview that is both revealing and inspiring, Rhoda shares her work as a Lawyer, Banker, Luxury Consultant, and Gospel Music Artiste. Rhoda can communicate in five languages, including sign language. If you consider that she graduated as one of the best students from my Law class at the university, then you may understand how this mother of two is able to excel in so many things, a versatility that is comparable to that of ivy leaguers. From this in-depth interview, I learned more about my friend than I did in the six years we were in school together. I hope this interview inspires you, like it inspired me.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am Rhoda Ameh Ajodoh. I love Jesus and I am not ashamed to say it. I got a degree in Law from Madonna University Okija, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2008. I spent three years in a very renowned law firm in Kaduna and then joined a Bank in November 2012 where I work as a Relationship Manager for Business/SME customers. I have been blessed with a loving Husband, Peter, and two amazing boys, Alvin and Allan.
I see you have done well for yourself. Congratulations. A bank job is one of the coveted jobs in Nigeria. May we learn more about banking in Nigeria. Besides depositing and withdrawing money, what other products and services can customers get from banks?
The last time I was at my sons’ school for a career talk, I had to speak as a Banker and I explained to them that banks were formerly known for deposits and withdrawal of monies saved but that banking in this present day has changed a great deal. We offer loan facilities to grow businesses and assist customers perform contracts, purchase assets and property and meet other short term needs. We offer investments to assist customers grow their funds by investing in stocks, bonds, etc. We offer retirement savings (what most people know as pension). We offer opportunities for customers to write their Wills, we assist customers repatriate funds off the shores off Nigeria, we offer insurance on assets and persons, the list goes on. So you see that Banking is not only about saving monies and withdrawing them.
Thank you for helping us see banking differently. I wonder if better knowledge of banking practices would have helped a young woman I interviewed recently. She married at 17, but her husband died when she was 24. After her husband’s death, her husband’s relatives took away her only child and left her without a dime. Do you think she would have fared better if she had a joint bank account with her husband?
Really sad. I doubt she would have been left without anything if she had a joint account with her husband. Although it is one thing to have a joint account and another to have money in it. So even if she had a joint account with her husband, if there was no money in it, she would still be left with nothing. I advocate joint investments more than I do joint accounts, although most times people who have the former incidentally have the latter.
I once heard that old generation banks like Union Bank and First Bank of Nigeria have unclaimed money of deceased persons and that the deceased persons’ surviving family members do not know of the existence of such money. Do banks have an obligation to contact a next-of-kin when an account becomes inactive for a long time, since that may be an indication that the account holder is deceased?
Well, I may not be able to say for sure if these mentioned banks have such monies but coming from a system as such, I can say it is true. People die everyday and many of them have families who do not even know about what they are worth financially, not to talk of having knowledge of the existence of such accounts. Ordinarily, a bank is not under any obligation to contact a customer’s next-of-Kin because the bank has an obligation to maintain the deceased person’s privacy because the relationship between a bank and its customer is confidential.
However, banks are mandated to contact an account holder three months after his or her account becomes dormant. If he /she cannot be reached either through phone calls, sms, email or visit, the next-of-kin will be contacted to assist reach the customer. If the customer is deceased, then the next-of-kin being now aware of the existence of such account should do the needful to claim such funds. If the money is unclaimed after six months of its being dormant, it will be moved into a suspense account till it is claimed. Please note that this is in accordance with the CBN Guidelines on the management of dormant accounts and other unclaimed funds by Banks and other financial institution. It is also note worthy that this does not apply to a.) Savings accounts that are not hybrid accounts. b) Government-owned accounts .c) All individual accounts that are subject of litigation and/or fraud.
What should people do to ensure that all their assets go to their loved ones upon their death?
In my own opinion, people should write a Will. For those who have no Will, they should let their loved ones know, in the presence of relatives and others, from time to time, what they are leaving them as inheritance. I also advise to buy assets in the name of loved ones. Get someone you can trust, your spouse, pastor, lawyer etc and tell them how you want your assets distributed, put it in writing. This may not often work but it does sometimes. Again for some one with so many assets, it’s best to write a Will.
Your bank offers life insurance policies. Nigerians are averse to them. What’s your advice for those who think that, for example, a life insurance policy puts one at risk of being killed by the beneficiaries? Can one have a life insurance policy without necessarily informing the beneficiaries?
Getting insurance is like saving for your day of adversity. Yes, a person can have a life insurance policy without necessarily informing the beneficiaries especially where they are from a family where some people cannot be trusted. The insurance company, like the banks, has an obligation to contact beneficiaries.
What should Nigerian importers know about letters of credits in international commercial transactions?
The letter of credit is the most secure form of payment in international trade as it provides protection to both parties, that is, the importer and the exporter involved in international transactions. Some of the advantages to the buyer and seller include: The seller has assurance from the buyer’s bank that they will pay for the shipped goods. That means payment is guaranteed by buyer’s bank. For the buyer, the bank will only pay the seller for the goods, on condition that the latter presents to the bank the determined documents in line with the terms of the letter of credit
You live in Kaduna. Do you also manage bank accounts for people living in the other 35 states?
Not really, I am only meant to manage accounts domiciled in my Branch in Kaduna State. However, I have a lot of customers living or doing business in other states who for one reason or the other have accounts in my Branch. Managing their accounts from Kaduna is not difficult because they can access their accounts from any part of the country and with the aid of technology I can reach out to them when the need arises.
When were in the university, you were an active member of the choir. I understand your love for music is still strong. How have you been able to keep up with this interest given your tight schedule?
My interest in music dates back to when I was really little, my late dad was a music lover and he did well raising us in a music environment. Keeping up has not really been that difficult because it’s something I love to do and you just have a way of making time for what you love. Most Saturdays I attend rehearsals, sometimes all night rehearsals and when I have invitations to minister, I prepare to be ready two hours ahead of time so that I can put finishing touches to my work before rendition. My husband’s support cannot be overlooked; his encouragement and support is just awesome.
Are you working on any music project at the moment?
Yes. I am working on something I call ‘my big break’ right now. With the support of ROY Foundation (an NGO that supports youths with talents in music) I am working on my very first album which will be out hopefully before Christmas this year.
Congratulations, that sounds good. I will be buying your album. What type of music are you into?
I basically do Gospel but I’m concentrating on genres like RnB, Rock and Soul for now.
If given the opportunity, which music artistes will you love to collaborate with?
I have an endless list but for now I’d love to work with —SamSong, Tim Godfrey, Donnie Mirklurkin, Kirk Franklin , and Cece Winnas
Where do you hope to take your music to within the next five years?
Beyond the shores of Nigeria dear. (Laughs). A few weeks back I told some very dear friends, Rev and Mrs Joshua Nathan, ‘I am ready to come out this year’ I’ve been in the incubator all these while, but now I am bold enough to let the would hear me (Laughs).
Nigeria’s economy has been in a bad place since the depreciation of the naira. Some have argued that as the naira can purchase less and less of foreign products, Nigeria will be forced us to manufacture its own goods. In your opinion, will the present economic crisis help the average Nigerian in the long run?
The government’s motives might be good, but I personally believe the procedure is erroneous. The nation does not yet have in place enough companies to manufacture/ produce and meet our needs. Devaluing the Naira and at the speed without putting in place a fall back plan is risking the lives of many. In the long run, we could only hope the present situation helps the average Nigerian as the present situation is disheartening. The average Nigerian is suffering and the masses cannot understand this.
Besides your job as a banker, you are also a luxury consultant at Global Wealth Trade. How did you get the idea to get into the business?
I got the GWT idea from an old class mate. I took the chance because at that time I desired so much to make residual income.
GWT in Brief
Global Wealth Trade (GWT) is a Luxury Fashion Designer company in direct competition with other similar companies in the high end luxury designer industry. GWT are the owners of Feri, Feri Mosh and Posh designer brands. They grant individuals a FRANCHISE (exclusive distribution rights) to wear and promote these brands worldwide. The SIGNIFICANT difference is that unlike Gucci, Prada, D&G, e.t.c. Feri, Feri Mosh & Posh are NOT displayed on shelves in high street shops and hotels worldwide. The company has adopted Direct Sales, otherwise known as Word of Mouth Marketing to distribute their products because it is the MOST POWERFUL method to distribute any product or service. Therefore, GWT can pay you $500 and up to $10000 for wearing and promoting Feri, Feri Mosh and Posh. For details, I invite you to attend a live or online GWT tour. You can also visit my mall: http://www.gwtcorp.com/rhela
What products do you offer through Global Wealth Trade?
GWT is a Canadian luxury designer company . Our products include jewelry (gold, diamond, silver, plangsten and tugsten), shoes, bags, purses, opticles, sun shades, perfumes etc.
It’s not easy to land a good job in Nigeria. How did you get your banking job? And what’s your advice to job seekers?
I got mine through my brother’s friend. I left my old job for about a month then I got a call from a Branch manager who was a friend of my brother’s. My advice- search online, talk to people, grow yourself, attend trainings and read, have your updated CV always handy, most of all pray and trust God for the best.
You are open about your faith as a Christian. What’s your advice to young people about the role God has to play in their lives if they must succeed?
(Laughing) I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I love God and He is the one keeping me. He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and so it makes my life easier. Whether things go well or not, I know there is a better end for me. I tell youths that a life outside God is hopeless. Who do you turn to when things go wrong, your maker or a fellow creation? If you must succeed then you must trust God who knows all things, sees all things and has dominion over all things to show you the path to walk in.
As a wife and mother of two, with a demanding job and side hustles, how do you maintain work-life balance?
Have I been able to maintain work-life balance? (Laughs). Anyway, I must say I’m trying my best. God has been faithful to draw my attention to whatever is suffering at any point in time. He also has a way of showing me a way around.
Do you miss being a litigation lawyer?
Oh yes. I do dear. Since the beginning of this year, I have been considering going back. I will next year but I am not really going to do litigation, I intend to focus on corporate legal practice, drafting and corporate registration.
I know you to be an avid reader; you introduced me to Max Lucado. What’s the last book you read?
Last book? (Smiling) I am reading one now ‘Max on life’ the book answers questions with scriptural backing on life in general: relationships, parenting, death, eternity, marriage etc. It’s a beautiful one. You should get it.
Thank you. I will look it up. I’ve always known you to be an active member of any community you find yourself, seeking ways to leave people better than you found them. One of your projects was a youth ministry. Do you still work with youths?
Oh yes. My husband and I presently reach out to youths around us, home, church, work etc through music, talk, concerts etc.
Your versatility is outstanding. You speak Yoruba, Hausa, Igala, and English. How did you come to know so many languages?
I am more fluent in Hausa and Igala (my mother tongue). I learnt Hausa probably because I was born and brought up in the North (Kaduna state). I learnt Yoruba in secondary school from my friends and then I had more Yoruba friends in the university. I understand it better than I speak it but I can at least communicate with it.
You also know sign language. How did you learn it and has it ever come handy?
I learnt sign language in my church, All Nations Christian Assembly, (ANCA) Sabon Tasha Branch, Kaduna. My husband who was then a friend was one of my teachers. He taught and encouraged me to interpret for the hearing impaired in my church.
It has come in handy a lot of times. Sometimes I attend weekly activities in church and then I come in to find some hearing impaired brethren and no one to interpret. I just take up the responsibility. I presently have a customer who is impaired too. Whenever she comes into the Bank, she is directed straight to me (laughing). I have so many of them as friends and it’s beautiful.
You lost your dad recently and I read your touching tribute to him. You hinted that he may have prepared for his death. What has helped you most in dealing with your grief? And what is your dad’s greatest legacy?
It’s about five weeks since my dad passed on to Glory. It has been a difficult time but my heart is at rest because his testimonies have just been flooding in and it’s overwhelming. Why I say he was ready is because he was a Christian; he showed my mum and brother where he wanted to be buried about a year ago. He prayed for all his children, grand children, his wife and some friends before he stopped talking. He did a lot more that I don’t want to mention. It’s been emotional but in all God is glorified.
What has kept me going is the life he lived: he was humble, content, and brave. He feared God and lived a legacy that has put me on my toes. He always said he desired that we (his children) exceed the standard he has set for us. He was an Engineer, author, and a song writer. His life and the family he left behind, I believe, is his greatest legacy.
Looks like you are a chip off the old block, you excel in so many things just like him. Please what’s your dad’s name and the title of some of the books he authored?
My dad’s name is Raphael Ken Ajodoh. His books are: Grass, Grace and Glory; Air Chaser; Fear Wears Out Your Peace; The Positive and Progressive Leadership; and Queen Ayaya.
Where do you see yourself in the next seven years?
Beyond my expectations. I believe my expectations are too small compared to where God wants me to get, though my expectations are really big. In seven years, I will be where God wants me to be and I cannot imagine it. I’m certain it’s really big and bright.
After this interview, people may have further questions for you. How may they contact you?
They can email me at email@example.com, or call me at 08059262700. They can also check my mall via http://www.gwtcorp.com/rhela
Thank you very much for granting this interview, Rhoda.
Sincerely, it’s my pleasure.