The U.S. Embassy has selected 40 Nigerians to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for Young African Leaders in 20 top U.S. universities, for a period of six weeks.
Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle, congratulated the beneficiaries on their selection.
Entwistle explained that the 40 Nigerian fellows were selected amongst 7,000 Nigerian applicants and tens of thousands of others throughout Africa.
“ I congratulate the newly selected 2015 Mandela Washington fellows. As you may know, you competed with more than 7,000 applicants from Nigeria alone.
“You all should be proud of your accomplishment.
“Your selection says a lot about who you are as young leaders, and the level of impact you are having on your communities as entrepreneurs, civic leaders and public servants,” he said.
The envoy explained that the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, is an integral part of President Barack Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa.
“The White House created this initiative in recognition of the critical and increasing role that young Africans play in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security.”
Entwistle said 45 fellows from Nigeria were among the 500 young people selected from across Africa in 2014 to participate in the fellowship.
According to him, the fellows engage in an intensive, six-week fellowship at 20 top U.S. universities.
“They also had the opportunity to participate in a presidential summit, hosted by President Obama in Washington, D.C.
“Some fellows also completed internships with prestigious U.S. organisations like the Smithsonian Institution, the Brookings Institution, and Deloitte Consulting,” he said.
Entwistle said fellows from the programme were using their knowledge and experiences to scale up their businesses and initiate projects that would have a tremendous impact on society.
The U.S. envoy advised the fellows to be good ambassadors, saying that they would have the opportunity to meet hundreds of bright and inspiring minds from other parts of Africa.
He admonished them to take advantage of the opportunity to learn, share, and expand their network.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), one of the fellows, Mr Hassan Rilwan, said he looked forward to learning how to build a generationally-sustainable business model.
“Most Nigerian businesses do not grow beyond the first generation. In America, you see businesses that are beyond a century or 200 years.
Another fellow, Mrs Grace Jerry, who is physically-challenged, said she hoped to learn about mainstreaming disability in development efforts in Nigeria.