Interview with H.E. Dr. Ms. Eniola Olaitan Ajay, Ambassador of Nigeria to Budapest.
GLOBS: I am very curious about how you feel in Hungary and what you think of our country.
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: I think Hungary is very beautiful, clean and peaceful. Culture here is very important, the landscapes are gorgeous and the countryside is very developed.
GLOBS: As Madam Ambassador know, Nigeria is also called the African giant, because it is a huge country with practically unlimited resources and a dynamic economy. What are the areas where we could cooperate?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: The country is Africa’s most populous country with the largest black population on the Earth. At present, the economy is really strong and we have many natural resources. There are numerous opportunities, such as oil, gas, mineral resources, agriculture and tourism. Agriculture is one of the areas where Nigeria can be a partner of Hungary. In the 1970s, there was an oil boom in the country. However, agriculture used to be one of the most important elements of the Nigerian economy. In recent years, we began to recognize the real value of the sector’s development. I have noticed that the Hungarians have well-developed tools for mechanized agriculture. For example, this is something I hope we can deepen our relationship with your country.
GLOBS: What do you think about the relationship between Hungary and Nigeria?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: Well, I think it could be better. If we pay more attention to one another and understand each other’s philosophy better, our relationship may be much better with a more positive and optimistic attitude.
GLOBS: Nigeria is one of the leaders of African countries south of Sahara. What is Nigeria’s message to other African countries? How can they solve their problems?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: It is true that Nigeria is one of the leading countries in Africa and the country has a leading role in many areas. Nevertheless, the people of Nigeria believe in sovereignty, and of course we can work together with others. We believe that every country can work independently and be able to stand on its own. What we are really trying to do is to gather information from everyone regarding the best ways to be competitive in every corner of the world. Therefore, this is my message to other African countries: everyone should find out what is the best way to be successful. So I think the Africans have to stand up and take their own fate in their own hands.
GLOBS: Nigeria has been in a long and tedious fight against Islamist extremist organizations in its own territory, but the results of the struggle are very promising. Regarding your experience, what is the best way to fight with this and how can we achieve religious peace with success?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: I have to say that in general not only religious fundamentalism is what Nigeria or any other country has to face. For example, there is a crisis in the Niger Delta, which we will soon have to deal with. Actually, at this moment, I would not say that Nigeria is fighting against religious fundamentalists. However, there are a few exceptions, such as Boko Haram. They are trying to build a different Nigeria, and this is what the real problem is. The current government now has three main goals: the security of people, the desire to free Nigeria from corruption, and the creation of an economic environment in which all Nigerians are doing well. We managed to eliminate the majority of the Boko Haram. In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected as president of Nigeria. After his inauguration, he sought help. The president’s activity was aimed at strengthening the army and being able to fight the rebellion. That is why we were successful.
GLOBS: As you know, migration is in the focus of the Hungarian diplomacy. In the perspective of Nigeria, what would be the best way to fight illegal immigration? What do you think?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: Firstly, I would like to point out that Nigeria does not support illegal immigration. We do not help people leave Nigerian territory without legit immigration documents. However, it should also be taken into account that actual circumstances, such as wars, climate change or natural disasters, force legal and illegal immigration as well. Whenever any country takes a stand on immigration – whether legal or illegal – or when making long-term decisions, the other side of the coin should also be looked at. Countries should consider what their decision means to the people to whom the decision is made. In case a country is in war and has neighbours, I think civilians, women and children need a place to go where they can get asylum. At the same time, I feel that nobody should go to a place where one is not welcomed. My father always told me that I should not visit any of my uncles, unless I am being invited. So my country’s position is not to support illegal immigration, but we will not turn our backs on those who need help.
GLOBS: There is an ever-growing and vibrant Nigerian community in Hungary. What is the relationship between them and the embassy? How can this help bridge the gap between Europe and Africa?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: I would say that our relationship is friendly. First of all, we aim to build connections and we follow the principle of open doors. We believe that every Nigerian should have the opportunity to belong somewhere. Some Nigerians have been living here for 20-30 years, yet they have only recently met each other for the first time. The local community is very good and friendly. In Hungary, our fellow-Nigerians perform well in their profession. There is a director in charge at a bank in the city, and many are working at a multinational company. Furthermore, there are consultants, etymologists, etc. They are all working to fit in well.
GLOBS: Let’s talk about culture a bit. What should we know about Nigeria if we want to travel there?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: First of all, Nigeria is a very beautiful and very diverse country. Nigerians are fashion enthusiasts, so their everyday outfit is like a party dress. I feel that Hungary is close to the party mentality that characterizes us. For instance, people have fun until late night. We enjoy music and dance a lot, this is why there are many popular Nigerian musicians. Our gastronomy is rich, and it is worth trying. Hungarians love paprika so they will not be shocked by the spiciness of Nigerian dishes. Moreover, what the visitor will feel immediately is friendliness. The Nigerians are very hospitable. Anyone who visited Nigeria wants to talk about the experiences. Nigeria is a place that makes everyone smile.
GLOBS: What did you know about Hungary before you came here?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: Not Much. When I came here, one of the first things I did was to take a sightseeing-bus to get more information about the city. Since then I have been learning continuously, trying to find out more.
GLOBS: What is your impression on Hungary today?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: What I like is that everything is beautiful, because trees are planted everywhere. The country is so eco-conscious that it impresses me completely. Everywhere I look, I see green. I like the way the country uses its natural waters and how these resources are being utilized. I like that everything is very clean, peaceful and calm.
GLOBS: Do you have any message to the Hungarian people?
Eniola Olaitan Ajay: All I would say is that they should be more open. More open towards everyone we meet because we do not know when we will meet that person again. No matter who we meet during our journey and human existence, we should see one another as human beings, before we consider each other’s color. We should see what people are inside and what their personality is, before we judge them.
Source: by Dávid NÉMETH, Journalist – GLOBS Magazine