By Maryam Garba Hassan
President of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) has reiterated its founding mission to be part of homegrown solution to developmental challenges in Nigeria and the African Continent.
Addressing the AUN Fall 2014 semester enrollees at a convocation and pledge ceremony in Yola, President Margee Ensign, said, “Guided by the vision of our Founder, Atiku Abubakar, and the AUN Board, this University, unique in Nigeria, and on the continent, has dedicated itself to a very special and vital mission which is solving Africa’s development challenges.”
Among the class of 2018 are the two winners of the inaugural Dr. Enyantu Ifenne scholarship for the highest scoring candidate in this year JAMB examination from Northern Nigeria, the highest scoring female candidate in the country and another two winners of the Dr. Robert Pastor scholarship for the most deserving student (male and female).
Ensign who explained the implications of this mission, said AUN is educating students who understand the challenges related to poverty, illiteracy, conflict, unemployment, poor governance, and environmental degradation, and who will become the leaders dedicated to solving them.
She further said the AUN faculty is generating the new knowledge and applied research that will foster the development of Nigeria, Africa, and their many peoples.
“AUN has decided that what is needed now, in this time and place, is a Development University, a university that will educate future leaders for Nigeria and Africa.” She recalled that the last 10 years has been spent making a difference in furtherance of the founding mission. “AUN is still a young university. We are still building. We are still growing. But already our students, our faculty, and our staff have made a difference in our community, in Adamawa State, and in Nigeria. We are leading the way in community service, a program in which all students work in the community, helping to educate, to mentor, and to foster peace. Our University is very active in peace building in this region, in fostering literacy, in promoting sound ecological practices to protect the local environment, and in fostering economic development. We cooperate with other institutions to share our e-library resources, we teach local youth computer skills. We are determined to be part of the solution to Nigeria’s current challenges.”
The President expressed the hope that the incoming students will build on the hard work, the pioneering and brave work, of those who have come before them. “We expect that you will leave this part of the world a better educated, more prosperous, healthy, and peaceful place than it is today as we all learn together how to forge a better future.”
She reflected on “The Hope for Africa’s Youth,” an anniversary slogan contributed by a student, and said that it should make the entire university community pause to truly understand the responsibility it has taken on.
“I am convinced that this University represents all of our hope for the future of Africa and of its young people. It stands as a gleaming monument to a belief that we can work hard together and create a different and better future for Africa’s youth, she said.
In 25 years Nigeria will be the third largest country in the worldand Africa’s youth will represent 25 percent, one quarter of the world’s population. We can and must build that new and better future. Our hope, students, is based on our faith in your talent, in your ambition, in your hard work. It is you, the youth of Africa, for whom this institution was created. It is you, the youth of Africa, who will lead us into a better world. We are here to help prepare you to shoulder that burden. You are our hope.”
Also reflecting on another slogan, “The Best Is Yet To Come,” she noted that the University has recorded remarkable progress over the years. “Just a few months ago we opened our wonderful new Robert Pastor Library and e-Learning Center, the finest in Africa. In spite of all the many challenges, this University has persevered and this University continues to thrive. The intelligence and dedication of its students, faculty, and staff always move and amaze me. To those who hold out little hope for Nigeria, for those who hold out little hope for Africa, I say: ‘Come visit the American University of Nigeria! Come and see the future of Nigeria, the future of Africa!’ Truly, ‘The Best is Yet to Come.’”
President of the AUN Students Government Association, Mr. Joseph Oladimeji, and the President of the AUN Honor Society, Ms. Hephzber Obiorah, also gave words of encouragement to the new students.
Oladimeji urged them not to fear mistakes but to learn from them and to never forget that their desire to succeed now and in the future is in their hands. Ms. Obiorah assured the students that their decision to come to AUN is one that will make them stand out from the crowd if they are determined and committed to maximize the opportunity.
The Assistant Vice President of Recruitment & Marketing, Mr. Linus Ikyurav, said that students who meet AUN admission requirements were drawn from over 700 applicants.
He said “they come from 17 states from across Nigeria.”
The class, evenly distributed between the male and female genders, also has some students transferring from other universities, including the United States and Canada.