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What my years as an ambassador taught me —Awolowo Dosumu

What my years as an ambassador taught me —Awolowo Dosumu

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FORMER Ambassador of Nigeria to The Netherlands, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, says her tenure as ambassador provided her the rare opportunity to learn new things that have continued to serve as a guide in her life’s journey.

She made the disclosure on Wednesday in Lagos at the CVL LWT Leadership Colloquium held to honour her and two other former female Nigerian ambassadors, Hadiza Mustapha, former High Commissioner of Nigeria to Cameroon, and Adenike Ukinga, former High Commissioner of Nigeria to Jamaica.

While expressing her delight at the recognition, Dr Awolowo Dosumu described it as significant since it represented the first time reference was being made to her tenure as a former ambassador.

Going down memory lane, the chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria PIc stated that the ambassadorship in The Netherlands gave her the opportunity to reposition the reputation of Nigeria, and promote Nigeria’s culture profile before the world.

She said: “I knew that I had to do something, so I had to spend most of my time making sure that I repositioned the reputation of Nigeria.

“Interestingly, Year 2000 was the 40th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, so 1 seized that opportunity to organise a week-long activities which included economic forum, cultural events, featuring the likes of King Sunny Ade, Nike Arts Gallery and a host of others.

“Frankly, I went with a name, because even though I’m a medical doctor, even though I did the course on my own and built a career on my own, people still believe my greatest reputation is that I’m the daughter of Chief Awolowo, as if I never did anything for myself. But, I don’t mind.

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“So, I knew I was going there with a name; a name that millions of people claim and fight me on. They fight anybody that tries to tarnish that name. So, I knew I had no right to disappoint millions of people out there. Then I had myself to report to. At the end of the day, I would look myself in the mirror and ask: what did vou do today? Did you achieve anything? What did you do right? What did you do wrong? At the end of each day, I wanted to say ‘Ok, you got it mostly right’ and be able to sleep at night.

“Since I left, I could look back and then sleep at night, in the knowledge that I gave everything I had to the job absolutely everything. Those were my landmarks.”

Ambassador Tokunbo Dosumu stated further that her tenure as ambassador also provided her the opportunity to form a strong group with some female ambassadors around the globe, to push the cause of female ambassadors.

She, however, stated that though she was never a career diplomat, she was able to give the job her all, and left the office fulfilled.

“it was a lot of work. It was fun, but there were challenges. As an outsider, I brought new ideas, and new methods of doing things. I just tried my best to make sure that life was easier for the Nigerians that lived there.

It was a great deal of work; a learning curve, a very steep one; but I enjoyed it, and it has stood me well for the rest of my life, “she stated.

Another honouree, Hadiza Mustapha, former High Commissioner of Nigeria to Cameroon, called for a change of strategy among women, since, according to her, women have been adopting a strategy that has not been working.

She stressed the need for women to build smart partnership with men, to enable them achieve their obectives.

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“Women have been taking a strategy that is not winning.

We can’t continue to lock ourselves up and be com-plaining. We need to form a smart partnership with the men to enable us achieve our objectives,” she stated.

Ms Mustapha also charged women in positions of authority to ensure they make good use of such offices, and leave good legacies for pos-

While thanking the organisers for the recognition, she stated that women have come of age in diplomacy, noting that efforts should be made to mentor young female professionals wishing to make a career in the field.

Also speaking at the event the former High Commissioner of Nigeria to Jamaica said she believed the recognition would go a long way in inspiring the younger ones desirous of making a career in diplomacy.

Explaining the rationale for the recognitions, the CEO/ Founder of Centre for Values in Leadership, Professor Pat Utomi, stated that the three honorees were being celebrated as a way of demonstrating to younger women that the glass ceiling can be shattered.

“Our country definitely needs role models, especially women. Today’s event therefore continues something we started few years ago. We expect the honorees to inspire the younger ones.
“We believe the honorees are people of merit that the country desperately needs at this time,” he stated.

Panel of discussants comprising Ambassador Maria Oyeyinka Laose, Ambassador Gladys Modupeola Quist-Adebiyi and Dr. Abiola Salami, with moderator being Omotola Adeyanju, charged women to stand up, develop and believe in themselves “and when the opportunity comes, they should grab it.” According to them, the popular saying that it is a man’s and not woman’s world should be discarded as mere mindset that cripples women’s capacity, declaring that women in today’s world “have come to be at advantage” and that such notion should no longer be projected to enable the country move forward.

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One of the panelists, Dr. Salami, insisted that moving the country forward requires that the mindset that it is a man’s world should no more be sowed in women’s minds, saying that the more women of excellence were honoured the better to advance the country.

“Who says it is a man’s world? I would say it is a mindset. If we continue to sow such seed in women’s mind, it would continue to cripple their capacity. If you want progress, you don’t project such.

“The more we honour women of excellence and integrity the better for the country. It is our world and everybody’s world to deliver excellence. So,the message is: develop yourselves, believe in yourselves and when opportunity comes, make sure you seize it,” Salami said.

In her submission, Ambassador Laose noted that the situation regarding gender discrimination was changing the world over, with the United Nations (UN) policy promulgation on gender balancing, declaring that women should look up as they have come to be at an advantage.

“Young women should look up, women have come to be at advantage. The UN is aware of the discrimination; that’s why it introduced gender balancing. Now the situation is changing,” she said.

The event, which later witnessed the presentation of awards to the three honourees, was immediately followed by cutting of the cake and presentation of a book, entitled ‘The People Performing Woman’s Companion’ to each of them.


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