Perpetua Egesimba, Lagos
The Lebanese community through its empowerment initiative, Lebanese Nigeria Initiative (LNI), a non-profit organisation established by Lebanese business leaders in Nigeria, is set to award full MBA scholarships to two young Nigerians every year in perpetuity at the American University Beirut (AUB).
Speaking at the media presentation of Mr Ajibola Olubando as the first beneficiary of the LNI MBA scholarship in Lagos, the Consul General of Lebanon in Nigeria Mr Elias Nicolas, said the scholarship scheme, which adds ‘’to other economic and social development contributions of the Lebanese community in Nigeria’, is aimed at further strengthening the existing friendly relations between the two countries.
Nicolas stated that the Lebanese community has always seen itself as part of the social fabric of Nigeria, noting that the current programme is a sign of its commitment towards the educational upliftment of young Nigerians.
“Lebanon at the crossroads of three continents and many civilizations along history accommodates several internationally recognized higher institutions, including the AUB, that have produced several high caliber scientists, heads of states and prime ministers around the Middle East and beyond.”
LNI Vice Chairman Mr Ali Safieddine said the endowment was conceived to identify young Nigerians who can acquire requisite knowledge from global institutions, who would be willing to come back and invest the same in Nigeria for the benefit of the country.
Mr Safieddine, who traced the history of first Lebanese to settle in Nigeria to 1880, appreciated Nigeria for giving the Lebanese an opportunity to live peacefully within their communities and to do business, adding that this spirit of unity was part of what contributed to the establishment of the endowment fund at the American University of Beirut.
“The beneficiaries while at the American University of Beirut would be ambassadors of Nigeria in Lebanon, and when they are back would be ambassadors of Lebanon in Nigeria as they would be sufficiency immersed in the two cultures,” he said.
On the criteria for selection, Mr Safieddine said the candidate emerged out of numerous applicants who must satisfy the stringent admission requirement of the AUB and also be ready and willing to return to Nigeria to use his or her education to impact society.
According to him, a lot of rigour went into the selection process of the candidates who were interviewed by a panel of the LNI and the AUB before it was narrowed to four, who were further interviewed by the LNI board, a stage from which the winner was selected.
The LNI-AUB MBA endowment fund scholarship awardee, Mr. Ajibola Olubando, a Petroleum and Gas Engineering graduate of University of Lagos, appreciated the LNI for the opportunity to study at the AUB.
He said he will use his global education to impact Nigerian society upon returning to the country after graduation.