“IndyPress Has Given Me Insight That I Could Do Much More” – New Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Tolu Ayeye Comments

Indypress new Deputy Editor-In-Chief, Toluwalope Ayeye, speaks to Maduabuchi Nnamdi and Sonaike Peter, about her experience in campus journalism, her personal life, and her stance on issues of mainstream politics and much more.

Could you please introduce yourself? 

My name is Toluwalope Ayeye, a 300 level student of the Faculty of Law. I am an Awoite. I am a writer. I’m a Campus Journalist. I am the new Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Great Independence Hall Press.

Moving on to your journey as Campus Journalist, why did you choose to be a Campus Journalist?

First off, I joined Indy Press because I wanted to get a place where I could write. I am very much in love with fiction writing. And I wanted to get to a place where I could get better with fiction writing. A friend from my fellowship sent me a link to IndyPress and I thought it was a place where I would just write fiction. However, my perspective changed and I realized that I would not only be writing fiction. My thought was that, okay, probably after the first semester I would leave, because I wanted only fiction writing. I wasn’t really interested in any of the other things. But then I started getting more insights on what journalism was about and I decided that I had to stay. I think I decided to stay after I wrote a couple of feature articles and I realized  that they were impact driven articles, with some changes happening after I wrote these articles.

How do you feel being the only female journalist in IndyPress?

Actually I don’t see it as anything special. I don’t even see it as being the only female press person in Indy Press, I just see it as being a press member in Indy Press, among other great minds basically.

Last session, you won the J6 award, what reinforcement did that give you?

Okay, before I won the J6 award, I was nominated in 100-level. Being nominated in 100-level was all the reinforcement I needed. It wasn’t just winning the J6 awards in 200-level, but the fact that I was nominated, I was in 100-level and I was part of the top three. Apart from the fact that my articles are making changes, people are also recognizing my works and people are noticing that yes this person is doing something good. It has given me the insight that I could do much more and be much better.

Okay, so being in the best press organization, what value has Indy press added to your life and what opportunity has it extended to?

I think I have learnt a lot from Indy Press, I remember Theophilus and John (past Indy Press E-in-C) repeatedly saying something and ringing it in our heads that everybody can write. You are not special. We did not pick you because you can write. We picked you not because you can write, but because you have met the Indy Press standard and we believe that you will be committed.

In fact, for a while I thought that the fact I could write and was competent was enough. But Indy Press has taught me it is not just about competence but also about commitment, putting in my all and sacrificing. I have become a better writer, I won’t say a great writer, I’m not there yet. I think I’ve picked up one or two leadership skills. I mean, if it was me in my first year I would have not taken up the role of the Deputy Editor-in-chief. I happily stayed in Indy Press because I knew that the chances of me ever becoming Editor-in-chief was zero. But staying has given me like one or two leadership skills. It has shown me that I should take responsibilities head on and I should not shy away from them either.

I remember in 100-level, Theophilus called me and he asked me why I did not signify that I wanted to be part of the incoming editorial board, and I told him that I didn’t think I was fit. And he said it wasn’t about you thinking you were fit, it was about you being fit and that was when he made me the General Editor. I think from there, I started realizing that it was not about me thinking I was fit.

Many people would say it is UCJ’s opportunity, because in 100-level there was an internship opportunity. I was scared. I did not want to intern, because I thought the Nation. Why would I want to go there? Why would they want to pick me? And then I met Boluwarin. Boluwarin was a press person before she left IndyPress. She was an Awoite. I asked her, spoke to her about it and she said that she knew I could do it. Even Abdulrahman said the same. The two of them speaking to me sort of opened my eyes, that yes, you can do this and you should just go for it.

I mean, I’ve met people, maybe through interviewing and so on and so forth – but I don’t know if that counts as an opportunity.

What was your reaction when you were handed over to, as Deputy Editor-in-chief?

I had 3 reactions. I was ecstatic, I was happy because wow, the Deputy Editor-in-chief. I mean I remember Kelvin saying that I might think it’s small but that it is actually big. And yes it is actually big. I was scared, because as I had said it is a big role, and with just one snap I could mess everything up. But then I was determined, yeah. I’ve been given a big role. It was okay to be happy and scared, but I had to make a resolve in my heart that I want to do good by it. I don’t want to let anybody down, both the alumni and the people that are currently in Indy Press, and I don’t want to let anybody down.

Apart from campus journalism and public speaking what other activities are you involved in?

I would not say I am a public speaker, because I don’t really do public speaking. I mean it was only at one competition that I spoke, the Professor Egbokhare competition. Yes, Indy Press won, and that’s the only time I’ve ever engaged in any public speaking event or competition.

Apart from campus journalism and public speaking, there are other things I do.Yeah, I am part of Lawliwood. I am a script writer. I am a content writer. I love to volunteer. I don’t know if I can classify what I do as serial volunteering but I tend to hop on any volunteering opportunities. Especially when it has to do with the environment, picking up plastics, saving the greens, climate change, etc. Yeah, I do that. I volunteer for A Pad for Her. I’m currently the – I think it still circles back to journalism – Journalism team head.

How have you been able to strike a balance between your primary assignment and your secondary assignment?

To be honest striking a balance is hard. Every session, I find it harder to strike a balance. 100-level was the easiest because I only had school and journalism and I didn’t really focus on journalism until second semester, so it was easier.

200-level, I did what I did in 100-level, I drew up a timetable for every hour of the day. I am usually not that meticulous but then, I had to come up with this timetable. I know in my head that from this time to this time I’ll do this. And I knew then that on Thursday from 6pm to probably 9:30pm  was Indy Press and then on Fridays I knew that okay, I’m going to interview people. Saturday in the morning, I’m going to do this and this. Sometimes I didn’t follow it through, but most times I did. I hate routines, that’s something I should put out there. I hate routines. But then again, when push comes to shove and you see that you’re in a dilemma and you have to. It’s when I’m in a dilemma that I become meticulous, that I’m like I have to do this and by this time I can’t miss it.

So, in 200-level and100-level I was drawing up a time-table. And to be honest, at 200-level, my academics suffered. It didn’t suffer that much of a blow to anyone looking from outside but for me, I knew that it suffered a large blow. 300-level first semester, getting a routine was easy.

Now, this second semester I am in a big dilemma. In 200-level, it was either school or Indy Press. Now, I have stretched out my branches and I’ve gone to Lawliwood, I’ve gone to IPTLC and I might have chewed more than I can swallow. But the point now is that I have managed to strike a minor or a little bit of balance. For now, I’m not sure.

What makes a distinguished campus journalist?

I think commitment is what makes distinguished journalists – commitment and hard-work. Yes, putting in your hard work. Being ready to sacrifice. Being ready to learn. Standing by the truth always, I think that’s very important. In our press prayer we say that we shy away from the half truth and we hold onto the journalistic truth. The journalistic truth is the whole truth.

And being a distinguished journalist means you also have to be empathetic. I think that one thing that most campus journalists get wrong is that they forget they are human beings and they seem to lose all empathy. We have to be empathetic. As a journalist our goal, in fact our main goal is to help humans and how can you help humans if you cannot feel what humans feel? If you cannot be empathetic.

What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

To be honest, I don’t really like movies. Movies make me feel very sleepy. I know that’s weird. But I’d have to say Rizzoli and Isles. One TV show that I go back to, I won’t say it’s my go to TV show, but one TV show that I go back to every 31st of December is Avatar the Last Airbender.

On that point, what is your opinion on the newly released Netflix Live Action?

I watched the 2010 live action, and I hoped to God that the Netflix Live action would be better. It was better but in fact, I have stopped at episode one and I have not moved further, because I do not know what they did there. A friend of mine told me that it gets better, after episode one it gets better but I have not had the courage to go back. I didn’t even finish watching episode 1 and I stopped, because what was that?

Looking at the UI calendar, what’s your favourite event of the academic year?

I’m an introvert. I don’t go for events. But I went to a particular event last semester, Ibiza. And to be honest, I did not groove and rave like everybody but it was actually very nice.

Considering the state of the economy and current inflation, what do you think is the way out?

I will not say I know the way out. I’m not very conversant with these things. But I think one thing that is stuck in my head, that over the past week somebody has been repeating it, the Editor-in-chief of Indy Press currently. He keeps saying that not one person is the Messiah, not one person can be the Messiah  and not one person has the solution. Everybody is in the solution, not one person, and yes, that’s one idea I buy into. He also said that if you want to know the future of any country, look at their youths. And I think that we should. I actually agree with that statement.

What’s your opinion on your current Editorial Board?

I believe that my current Editorial Board is competent. Finely chosen by the former Editor-in-chief and the deputy Editor-in-chief and they would do great things. We would do great things together.

A number of females are apathetic to politics, so is your case different?

I will not lie, because I will tell you that at some point I was. At some point I didn’t care about politics. But joining the press meant I had to be like, I had to know more about this thing. And then I realized that not being apathetic to politics did not mean I actually had to contest, it meant that I had to know about all of these things. I will not tell you that I moved from a 0 to a 100 but I’m getting better at these things. I’m getting to know more. My knowledge and interest in politics keeps growing day by day.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, who would you like to give a shout out to?

My mother, number one, of course. She doesn’t go a day without calling me, yes. And every time she calls, she has something good to say. Number two my sister, the person I share everything with. Number three, my best friends, Chineye Josephat, Deborah Oludimu and Adedolapo Ojo. Those are the five main ladies. And to be honest, everyday, I see ladies that actually impact my life. I got into reading through Chimamanda’s books. The first big book I carried to read is Purple Hibiscus. Yeah, my aunt! Shout out to her too. A lot of women have contributed to my growth.

Burna Boy or Omah Lay?

Omah Lay.

Are you currently in a relationship with anybody?

No, I am not.

Who is your ideal man?

I can’t say that I have a long list of attributes, because over the years when I have crushes I realize that there is only one thing that connects them and it is that they are nice, they’re kind. And I think that’s it, the fact that they’re kind. Also, that they are handsome.

Who is your man celebrity crush?

I can’t pick between Shawn Mendez and Doctor Kalu from the Good Doctor.

If you were a cartoon character, which one would be and why? 

Daphne Blake! I love Daphne Blake. She’s like…okay, the female characters from Scooby-Doo and she’s like – while Velma is all these smarty pants and everything, I mean, I love being a smarty pant, but Daphne Blake just reinforces the whole femininity.

She loves my favorite colour too, purple. Daphne is smart. There is somebody that said that these Gen Z people, if you give a Gen Z something to do, they will improvise, they will find their way around it, they will find something easier. Daphne is not all bookish like Velma is, but when the right time comes, she knows how to improvise and she does this with this feminine steeze, like, yes, and the whole purple character just has me going.

What do you basically do with your leisure time?

I read. I read books and an interesting fact about me is that I like random information. I read books, and source for random information, history, science, anything random that I like or find interesting. And then I make beads, beaded bags. I like the feel of beads in my hands.

Book recommendations for our readers?

I would not say that I know a lot of genres. I’ll just recommend authors for you. Tess Gerittsen, James Hadley Chase, of course, Dorothy L. Sayer, Chimamanda Adichie, and Iris Johansen.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

It’s hard to pick. It’ll have to be between – as much as I take interest in African literature, I am more grounded in foreign literature because of my dad.  He reads a lot foreign literature; Alexandre Dumas, James Hardy Chase. That’s one of my favourite writers. I’m going to tell you two of my favourite books, The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers and The Surgeon by Tess Gerittsen. Rizzoli and Isles is actually a series based off The Surgeon, and I like The Surgeon because of Rizzoli and Isles. She has a lot of stories about Rizzoli and Isles, that’s the name of the characters. Surgeon, Body Double, Mephisto Club. I think they are about twelve to fifteen.

Who is your role model in the world of journalism?

My role model for the longest of times, and he’s actually my very good friend, is Abdulrahman Adebayo.

Wole Soyinka or Achebe?

The first person I read between the two was Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. My mind was blown. I read it after Purple Hibiscus. Reading Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Trials of Brother Jero’ was out of peer pressure but when I read it, I was like, how have I not discovered this for so long? Picking out of the two of them is going to be so, so, hard. But, Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe, I’ll go for Chinua Achebe.

If you were to travel anywhere in Nigeria, where would you go?

It would probably be my village. I’ve been to my local government but not my village. But my village is on top of water, literally. We were just a bunch of three kids, and my mommy was not ready to lose her children. So we had to stay at a neighboring village. And the delicacies there are top notch. I mean, we eat them in Lagos but they’re not as good as what we got there. It’s probably my village I’ll go to.

Alright. Thank you for having this interview

It was my pleasure.


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