The Consul General of the United States Mission to Nigeria, John Bray has tasked young Nigerians to be a force for positive change.
He handed down this admonition while giving his opening remarks at the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows of Nigeria alumni conference in Lagos.
The Consul General reminded the over 100 young Nigerians who are part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) of the words of President Obama when he met the class in Washington in August and urged them to justify their selection for the fellowship program.
According to him, “When we selected you for the Fellowship, you were already leaders accomplishing positive change. You have been finding solutions to lack of electricity in your communities. You have been at the forefront of recycling waste sustainably, so that your water and land is cleaner, and you created jobs in the process.
“You have brought education to children at risk of dropping out from school, or at risk of never attending school. You have helped hundreds of people learn how to use a computer for the first time, or how to start a business with a feasible plan.”
He urged them to think in continental and global terms, to create the international partnerships that will benefit Africa and impact the world at large.
Bray also expressed his delight at having some U.S. exchange program alumni – both of Mandela Washington Fellows and the distinguished leaders of the Hubert Humphrey Alumni Association of Nigeria at the event.
He explained further that it was important to pull together the talents across so many U.S. programs, and across so many years. “It’s important that you meet each other, that you share ideas, and that you feed off each other’s energy to accomplish great things”. He noted.
The Consul General assured the fellows of the support of USAID, IREX, and the State Department to attend events, organize events, create networks, and partner with other organizations.
He said, “we will do that in numerous ways. We want your projects this coming year to be the best they can be”.
The 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship had more than 1,000 Fellows from across the continent. One tenth of that number are from Nigeria.