May 13, (THEWILL) – The US Mission in Nigeria has selected 56 recipients for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for 2022.
The Mission has also selected 16 alumni from the Mandela Washington Fellowship cohort from 2021, to participate in this year’s Alumni Enrichment Institute.
This year, 72 young Nigerians who have demonstrated the capacity to make a positive impact in their societies through projects and programmes were selected out of the many that applied.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which was launched in 2014, is the flagship exchange program of the US government-sponsored Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), created to further the United States’ commitment to investing in the future of Africa.
Commenting on the significance of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard Stated that, “the United States is dedicated to investing in the next generation of young Nigerian leaders, reinforcing the strong partnership between both nations. The vision, courage and drive to innovate of Mandela Washington Fellows will help shape the future of Nigeria for many generations to come.”
Addressing the seventy Nigerian participants in Abuja, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, charged the Fellows to remain as good Ambassadors of their countries, as they journey to the US for the programme and use their time in the United States to learn and interact with their host communities.
“So what I want you to get out of this six weeks programme is this, in America, we believe everybody can make a difference in everybody else’s life.
“All of the things you are doing is going to change somebody else’s life, we are investing in you because you are our first multiplier and when you get back, there’s going to be so many opportunities, so we are hoping also that when you come back, you are not just going to make a difference only at the national level, but also at the state level”, FitzGibbon said.
The Counsellor for Public Affairs, US Embassy, Abuja, Adnan Siddiqi, said the fellowship, which serves as a tool for social interaction, was part of the United States government’s approach to uniting young people around the world.
He charged the fellows to use the opportunity given to them in a positive way.
“Use your opportunity to make friends with Americans, get to know our country a little bit, but also tell Americans, the Nigerians story and tell them about the culture, the society and the economy. Because we need to learn from you as well. It is very much a two way exchange, we look forward to having that exchange, you are not just smart people, you are also people that want to engage with the rest of the world and that is what we are looking for and that’s what Nigeria needs”, he charged.
Some of the Fellows, Zainab Bala, a Journalist, Obi Collins, an Energy Specialist and Olaoluwa Balogun, a Social Entrepreneur, expressed their gratitude to the United States government for the opportunity given to them and promised to use the skills and exposure acquired to impact on the Nigerian society.
Each year, US Missions across Sub-Saharan Africa select accomplished leaders, who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their countries.
During the fellowship, participants engage in six weeks of in-depth academic and leadership training at top American universities across three tracks—business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership/engagement, and public management.
Since 2014, over 5,000 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the MWF with 456 Fellows from Nigeria.