“I Believe That After Our Service To God And Family, Public Service Is The Highest Form Of Service” – H.E (Dr) Eniola Ajayi

By Anna Popper

I believe that after our service to God and family, public service is the highest form of service”

 

Interview with H.E. Dr Eniola Ajayi, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Hungary

 

 

Your Excellency, it is a great pleasure to have another Lady Ambassador in the diplomatic corps in Budapest. Since You started Your term in Hungary in 2017 did You get used to live and work here?

 

It is a great pleasure to be in Hungary and to have this opportunity to represent my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I had no contact with Hungary prior to my arrival as an Ambassador here. I think that the experiences met my expectations and it has been quite easy navigating the Diplomatic Corps especially with the support and camaraderie that exists within the Lady Ambassadors group and the various programs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that provides a platform for us to interact.

9af4eb57-1741-4248-a96b-f23c622ba394H.E Dr Eniola Ajayi

With its strategy of opening to the southern hemisphere, Hungary has entered the global competition for pole position in economic ties with Africa. How can the growing relationship between Nigeria and Hungary be further strengthened? In which areas do You think there is a possibility and potential to develop the cooperation?

 

It is quite commendable that Hungary thought it fit to develop a strategy on how they wish to engage with countries in Africa. It is also commendable that Hungary seeks to impact most of our countries using education. The Stipendium Hungaricum and Young Christian Scholarship Programmes are worthy of mention. I believe Nigeria and Hungary can collaborate in the areas of agriculture and water management.

 

Would You share the results of the recent elections? How do You see the evolution of Nigeria in terms of democratic process and social development since its declaration as an independent state in 1960?

 

The results of the elections in the Federal Republic of Nigeria this year was free and fair and quite satisfactory. We are also encouraged that our democracy in Nigeria would have experienced an unbroken run of 20 years by the time President Mohammed Buhari gets sworn in again on the 29th May 2019. It’s worth noting that we have enjoyed a smooth transition of power within that period.

It is also heart-warming that we have had economic growth once we bounced out of the economic recession that we experienced at the beginning of the current administration. There are a lot of social safety nets being provided for our vulnerable citizens. The school feeding programme in elementary schools has reduced the number of out of school children, the N-Power employment scheme has reduced the number of unemployed undergraduates while Trader-Moni is providing loans for petty traders amongst other social development schemes.

 

Nigeria is often looked as a giant of Africa, being the largest economy of the continent. Which are the main pillars and strategic sectors, and top export products of the Nigerian economy and how do You see its prospects for the coming years?

 

Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth and the largest in Africa. We also currently have the largest economy in Africa. The strategic sectors in Nigeria are: oil and gas, agriculture, solid minerals, entertainment and tourism. Our top export product is crude oil. With the current focus on agriculture, Nigeria is almost self-sufficient in rice production and we hope to be able to export substantially in the near future. The future is truly bright for us economically especially with many of our younger generation excelling across the world in all walks of life.

 

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country, with a very young population. What are the key issues and challenges of the domestic politics of Your country currently?

 

In Nigeria, our diversity has always been a way of life for us. A country with over 250 ethnic nationalities, speaking over 500 languages has had a lifelong lesson in tolerance and coexistence with people across a population of over 201 million. 76% of Nigerians are within the age distribution 0-24 years. The challenges we surmounted in the past were insurgents from the Niger-Delta, clamour for Secession from the Eastern part of Nigeria and we are currently battling Boko-Haram (jihadist organization) based especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. Politics for us is evolving and maturing. There is a true separation of powers with the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. Corruption is another albatross that we are fighting with the institutions that have been set up to tackle them. I have to say it is not business as usual.

 

Tell us please about Your professional-diplomatic career. What was Your inspiration for joining the foreign service? What do You aim to achieve as Ambassador to Hungary? According to You, what are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of the Foreign Service?

 

My professional life has been quite interesting. I graduated and trained as an optometrist and ocular pathologist, and I started work as a civilian doctor in the Nigerian Air Force. Then I proceeded into private practice establishing my own Eye Clinics before I was invited to serve as my State’s Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology and later as Commissioner for Environment. In 2017 I was nominated as a non-career Ambassador by Ekiti State, my home state in Nigeria and appointed to Hungary. My experience on my current posting has been fair and I hope it becomes fantastic. I believe that after our service to God and family, public service is the highest form of service.

My inspiration in service to my country rests on three ‘I’s: Inclusion for Nigerian Citizens and my host country, Image building for Nigeria and a deliberate drive for foreign direct Investments for Nigeria.

The main challenge for an ambassador is to be able to balance your time and efforts to satisfy the country and people you represent, as well as ensuring that your host nation is understood.

The most rewarding aspect of foreign service is being able to give your citizens a sense of belonging and support while being in a foreign land and the opportunity to take tangible investments back home for the advancement of your people.

3cb0f53a-f51b-43dd-84cc-d7d298be1f80

What are the priorities of the foreign policy of Your country?

 

Our priorities are to uphold our sovereignty and the right to govern ourselves and respect other countries’ right to do the same. We also hope to leverage on our 114 embassies across the world to develop our economic diplomacy to harness foreign direct investments.

 

In Your experience, how do the Hungarian people perceive Nigeria?

 

I believe it depends on who you are talking to. Those who have had close interactions with Nigerians have very good impressions of our openness, hospitality and generosity. Those who have not had the benefit to interact with us may sometimes treat Nigerians with suspicion because of some of the narratives they are sometimes exposed to.

 

After celebrating the 52nd Africa Day what is Your message to send?

 

My message is that Nigerians are one of the most hospitable, fiercely loyal and truly jovial people you could ever know. We have so many experts in different fields that could be beneficial to the growth of any country. We shall all make the world a better place by making our individual spaces better than we met them. We must give the best of ourselves especially in service to our fellow men.

 

Being far, what do You miss from Your homeland? How do You spend Your leisure time if there is any?

 

What I miss the most being far away from Nigeria is the company of my family and friends because we all live across three continents and it is sometimes difficult getting together. I spend my leisure time visiting sights in Hungary and writing poems and on various subjects that are dear to my heart.

My hobbies include listening to music, photography and reading. The fact that I used to play basketball and volleyball is now history.

 

Thank you for the opportunity of this interview. It has been an honour and a privilege to see the commitment that goes into the production of the Diplomatic Magazine in Hungary.

 

-Anna Popper

Source: Diplomatic Magazine

Sign up for Updates

One Response to “I Believe That After Our Service To God And Family, Public Service Is The Highest Form Of Service” – H.E (Dr) Eniola Ajayi

  1. DSEED June 22, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Congratulations to your new post Dr Eniola Ajayi.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.