TOPE AILERU is one fine young man whose dream is to see African hardworking celebrities honored for their crafts; he is one man who has led the banner of Nigeria so high in Ghana through media. With his media, PR and Management skills, he has over the years pitched top notched names out there. With about twenty solid years doing what he loves best, he is championing a new course of awarding both Ghanaian and Nigerian showbiz personalities, come May 2017 in Nigeria. Ytainment caught up with the man who whatever he touches turn to gold, enjoy these one-on-one excerpts below…
IT HAS BEEN A WHILE YTAINMENT SPOKE WITH YOU, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN AFTER LEAVING CITY PEOPLE?
I have actually been around. I left City People in July 2015 as a staff but I still have a working relationship with the company. City People is like a family thing to me and I share a special relationship with the Publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde. After I disengaged from City People, I set up my own company and I have been doing the only job I know how to do, media.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW YOU?
I have been in the media all my life. I have never tried my hands on any other job. Next year, 2018 will mark 20 years that I started my career in journalism. I started in 1998 as an intern with NewsNow Newpapers then on Ijaye road, Ogba Lagos. I was also at Punch Newspapers between 2000 and 2001. I was a research assistant at the Editorial Board and this was where I got the conviction that journalism was my calling. After this, I joined efforts with my colleagues then at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where I had returned for my HND and we floated an inter-campus magazine that covered the entire Southwest of Nigeria. It was called Campus Horizon. We took the publication to the peak a students’ magazine could reach before it was rested. After this I went into community journalism and was publishing a monthly magazine called IbarapaNow. My uncle, who brought me up was funding the publication. I later joined my friend, Bola Olalere to start another publication called Oyo Herald in 2005, In between this period; I had my youth service in Kaduna. I was the editor of the magazine before joining City People in February 2007 as a Society Reporter. City People changed my career for good and the Publisher gave me the responsibility of starting the operations of the magazine in Ghana in 2009. I was the Ghana Bureau Chief of the magazine for some years. I may not be able to give an exact description of who I am as a person. To some, I am a cool guy, while some may think I am not. I think this should summarize all that people need to know about me.
THE PERSON, TOPE AILERU HAS GRADUALLY GROWN INTO A BRAND CALLED BLUE SYNERGY MEDIA. WHAT HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GROWTH?
We are just about to start, growth is still a far focus, I think. Before I left the employ of City People about 2 years ago, I already got my next moves mapped out, though with a big fear. I was scared because I have seen and read about the experiences of a lot of start-ups in Nigeria. I never had any capital kept somewhere, but I was convinced that the time was right. I set up Blue Synergy Media and we started off with our flagship brand, an online publication. Now, we have moved into other areas; events, media marketing and artiste PR/Management.
Ghana-Naija Showbiz Awards
YOU ARE NOW THE BOSS OF CITYSCOOP, AN ONLINE NEW PORTAL. HOW HAS IT BEEN GOING AS REGARDS THE ACCEPTANCE BY THE PEOPLE?
CityScoop is our flagship brand. It was officially launched in May 2016. So far, it’s been a wonderful experience. We are doing very well, and we are currently working towards expanding our operations. As a new company, we are still struggling with the natural challenges that come with success and I am convinced that soon, CityScoop will become a major force, not only in Nigeria, but in other parts of the world. We have received massive acceptance within a short period.
YOU HAVE AN UPCOMING EVENT, THE GHANA-NAIJA SHOWBIZ AWARDS COMING UP. TELL US MORE ABOUT IT.
The #GhanaNaijaShowbizAward is a concept I have been sitting on for about 3 years now. My experience over the years opened my eyes to the many benefits that exist in the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria. The 2 countries are the eyes through which the rest of the world views West Africa. Entertainment is the biggest tie that binds us and there is a big need to strengthen the tie. The project is to further cement the existing relationship between the entertainment practitioners in the 2 countries, and such bolstering the move to make this part of West Africa the entertainment hub of Africa. The award is to identify, recognize and honour practitioners and players in the entertainment sectors in the two countries who have done exceptionally well, with a view to encouraging them to do more to make the industry bigger. The event is tagged “Celebrating Africa’s Biggest Entertainment Collaboration”. The grand finale, which will see stars from Ghana joining their colleagues in Nigeria coming together on one night, holds in Lagos on May 14, 2017.
WHICH CATEGORIES DO YOU SINCERELY HOLD DEAR TO YOUR HEART?
All the categories are precious to me. This awards event is first of a kind. This is the first time Ghanaians and Nigerians will be going head to head in a major award. It is a straight battle of big talents in all the categories. Anyone who wins this award will be making history; that I can say.
CHIPPING THIS IN; HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY COMPLAIN FROM ANY OTHER COUNTRIES IN REGARDS TO GIVING PIVOTAL ATTENTION TO JUST GHANA AND NIGERIA FOR THIS AWARD?
Not exactly. But we have had people asking why we didn’t make it a West African concept once and for all. The truth is, this is a peculiar concept and we want to first see how this one goes, then we can unveil our plans for the rest of the continent. It is one step at a time.
SOME SECTIONS OF THE GHANAIAN CELEBRITIES AND THE MEDIA HAVE BEEN ASKING ABOUT THEIR WELFARE AT THE MAIN EVENT IN LAGOS. ARE YOU MAKING ANY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS?
It has not been easy putting this event together, being the maiden edition. Our major challenge, expectedly, has been finance. However, we are currently talking to a particular airline to give us reasonable discounts for our nominees and guests who will be flying into Nigeria for the event. Also, in Lagos, we are making similar gestures to nice hotels around VI and Lekki to get good discounts on room rates for them. Asides that, we have a pre-party planned before the awards night to set our guests from Ghana in a right mood for the main event.
IT IS THE MAIDEN EDITION OF THE AWARD. SO FAR, HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE PREPARATIONS THAT HAVE GONE IN?
After the Nominees party in Accra and Lagos, we have been tidying up preparations for the event, in the background. Voting has continued on the official website of the award, www.ghananaijashowbizawards.com, and it is going to end a week to the main event. We are rolling out our next line of publicity from next week, both online, in the traditional media and outdoor. We shall also be announcing the hosts and artistes that will be performing on the awards night next week. One of Nigeria’s biggest event companies, Elizabeth R is in charge of the event. Tickets and invitation cards for nominees will be out from May 1. We have also picked a fantastic venue, where we hope to give everyone that attends the event, an unusual experience. We are hosting the event in a colourful atmosphere where the beauty of Lekki in Lagos could be viewed from the skyline. There is a powerful team in place, and I have so much confidence in the team to put together a wonderful show.
WE WISH YOU AND YOUR TEAM SUCCESS AHEAD OF THE AWARDS; WHAT ARE YOUR LAST WORDS TO PEOPLE OUT THERE FOLLOWING THE EVEN?
Thank you. People should watch out for a wonderful experience on May 14. And on that night, we shall know the best of the stars that have been shining bright as far as entertainment is concerned in both countries. It’s going to be a night to remember.