By: michael eli dokosi
Journalist and Nigerian national Ajayi Oluwapelumi Tobi has had his book Nigeria’s Diplomacy in Perspective: Issues, People and Diplomatic Ties in West Africa unveiled in Ghana’s regional capital Accra.
The book, a collection of articles written for Nigerian based Tribune Newspaper seeks to shed light on the challenges and successes chalked by West African nationals in their trade and social dealings with each other.
The event well patronized at the Nigerian Embassy had seasoned journalist Kwesi Pratt in attendance as well as the Managing Director of JA Plant Pool, the president of the Nigerian Students Association in Ghana, veteran journalist and one-time Acting Editor of the Tribune Newspaper in Nigeria Nana Acheampong, Oba Dr. Michael Odunayo Ajayi, Miss Nigeria Ghana, Mrs. Abiola Bawuah as well as journalists from various media houses, relations, friends and well-wishers.
The president of the Nigerian students in Ghana noted that the book serves as a timely guide for Nigerian students and business folks operating in the country stressing that laying hands on a copy of the book can enable one to avoid pitfalls and lead to a stay in the country being memorable. He urged the author to make the book available for sale in all the universities in the country especially the private ones which habour a good number of Nigerians.
Journalist and former Editor of the Sun Newspaper and one-time Acting Editor of the Tribune Nana Acheampong in reviewing the book comprising the writings of the author for the Tribune between 2011-2015 stated the work is long overdue as he couldn’t place a finger on a book which dealt with the Ghanaian-Nigerian experience as Tobi has done.
He said the 400 page collection although has wide themes, retains its core focus on keeping an eye on the Nigerian perspective indicating that when dealing with crime issues in the book, the author handles the issues journalistically without bias.
“The style the author adopts is fluid, prose lucid and content timely” adding that “the book enables one have a leisurely walk through the history of Ghana-Nigeria dealings.” Nana Acheampong observed.
The dread-locked elder was impressed with the resilience of Tobi in exposing the common thread linking not only Ghana-Nigeria but also Senegal, Benin and Cameroun.
Managing Director of JA Plant Pool, Olu Akindele expressed delight at the offering of Tobi Ajayi mentioning that knowing the author to have a knack for incisive questioning he was glad there is some recording of the dealings of fellow African brothers and sisters.
As one who loves history, Mr. Akindele pointed out that when people put in the time to observe and learn they will appreciate the Ghana-Nigeria affair better intimating that the forebears knew better and together wrestled liberty from the oppressor citing the examples of Nkrumah and Nmandi Azikiwe.
Ajayi Oluwapelumi Tobi in his address acknowledged that despite Nigerian being the country with the biggest economy on the continent and being the most populous with some 170 million citizens and a presence all over the globe with some rotting in prisons; the country cannot go it alone without interacting with fellow African states.
He stated that “as one who has dedicated self to report on Nigerian students and business folks, I realized there was a major problem with misconception of who a Nigerian is.
“As one who has travelled a bit on the continent and being in the company of the Nigerian embassy, I realized there was need to document the experiences and with a better understanding of our shared values the AU and ECOWAS can better serve the people without EU intervention.” Mr. Tobi added.
He mentioned as unfortunate, ECOWAS nationals being made to pay same tuition as Europeans in Ghanaian schools.
On how his journey begun, Tobi explained he started his journalism career 7 years ago, reporting in Nigeria but when the excitement was gone, he desired for more challenge, left Nigeria and sought to explore West Africa.
“Upon leaving my parents and country, I found many things strange especially in Ghana as I didn’t know there was a replica of almost everything in Nigeria here. I was curious, learnt a lot, wrote about experiences and tasted Ghana, Benin as well as Togo and here we are today.” the man with his name to a book opined.
He observed that hundreds if not thousands of Ghanaians school and work in Nigeria but little documentation has been done to share the experiences of such people.
He challenged Ghanaian journalists to also specialize in bringing out the stories of Ghanaians in other African states as there is no mouthpiece for such people.
On challenges faced, Tobi Ajayi stated finding self in a new territory is difficult but one needs to learn fast and build contacts especially as a journalist.
According to Tobi, a professional must be objective and often he is accused of being too neutral adding “I do my research about things told before publication as I can’t just take people’s word for it.”
Veteran journalist Kwesi Pratt Jnr commended Tobi for writing the book as it is not easy to author one given his experience. He stated Nigeria being a key economy, with a huge population continues to be an important country adding that whatever happens in Nigerian happens in Ghana in some shape or form.
The first copies of the book were purchased by Oba Dr. Michael Odunayo Ajayi, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Miss Nigeria Ghana and the Nigerian Students in Ghana President for undisclosed sums.