Nigerians win 100 Mandela Washington Fellowship slots

Aliyu Othman, Abuja

Over 100 Nigerian youth have won the 2017 Young African Leaders Initiative organised by the USA for Mandela Washington fellowship.

The US government invited the 101 Nigerians to join other 899 colleagues from 48 other African nations to this year’s programme

The fellowship is the flagship programme of former President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a key part of the US commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

The United States of America Mission in Nigeria says it is amazing that a whooping 101 young Nigerians were invited by the US Mission to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program.

Some of the YALI fellows during the programme, former president Barrack Obama and 40 US participating universities ‘will host the 1,000 young leaders from Africa and train them on public man­agement, business and entrepreneurship and civic leadership.’

In the second year, a special­ised institute on energy would also train the 1,000 participants to prepare them on how to make huge impact on their societies after returning to their countries.

Numerous Nigerians applied
The US Mission in Nigeria Counse­lor for Public Affairs, Mr. Aruna Amirthanayagam said at the Orientation programme in Abuja that numerous Nigerians applied for the fellowship.

 “More than 22,000 Nigerians applied to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship program,’’ he said.

“After the review by our partner NGO, after a reading by members of the Mission and the Nigeria community and af­ter an interview in either Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Ka­duna, Benin, Port Harcourt, or Calabar, you’re here…And your experience in the United States begins in just 39 days,’’  Mr Amirthanayagam said.

YALI fellowship participants
The US Counselor for Public Affairs in Nigeria said the YALI fellowship participants would be on the campus­es of 40 universities, colleges and institutions across the country, from the University of San Diego in California to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and many places in between.

One of the participants says “It’s a huge honor and responsibility placed on me. It reminds me that there is so much that is needed to be done. Someone is taking me there for free and is expecting me to come out and make a huge impact in the society.”

According to him, “Africa is the youngest continent in the world. In Nigeria, 60 per cent of our population are youth and most of these youth are unskilled.”

Another participant said; “the program will groom me as a leader. The selection process was very fair. I thank God am among. Nobody recommended me, I went there with passion and I was able to pass across my message.”

The 2017 Young African Leaders Initiative organised by the US for Mandela Washington fellowship will take off in mid June for a two year programme that would lead to the conferring of the fellowship.

Mercy Chukwudiebere