‘Spearhead birth of a ‘new Nigeria’
• School graduates 1, 300 since inception
• Churns out first set of MBA graduands in 2015
Having been drilled in what she chose to call “the finest university in Nigeria,” and “Africa’s premier development university, and on a day they were handed their degree scrolls in the presence of loved ones, President of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola, Adamawa State, Dr. Margie Ensign, and National Chairman of the All Progressives Party (APC) Mr. John Odigie-Oyegun, have tasked the Class of 2015 of the institution to unleash their potentials and contribute their quota to the emergence of “a new Nigeria.”
The fresh graduates were also tasked to manifest all the virtues of hard work, dedication to duty, love for fatherland and other great ideals, which they have been imbued with in the course of their academic sojourn.
Ensign speaking at the 7th Commencement Ceremony of the school, told the graduating students that, “Now is the time to create a new Nigeria, a new world, a free world.
You the class of 2015, graduates of the finest university in Nigeria, are about to enter that world as competent and educated adults.
“Going forth to take your place in Nigeria’s national life in commerce, in education, in science, in politics and any career you choose. You go forth to be citizens and leaders of a free democratic Nigeria.
The challenges facing your country, facing Africa, facing the world, are huge. The responsibilities that lay on your shoulders are weighty indeed but the opportunities to change the world for the better are there; they are all around us. You have seen that for yourself.
You already have changed the world one person at a time; teaching those children to read, feeding and clothing the hungry and desperate refugees.
But now, in a free society, you know you can make a difference. In a free society, you can make a difference. We expect no less of you.
The hopes of us here are in your hands and the hands of a new generation taking its place in a democratic Nigeria; a Nigeria whose freedom has given you the opportunity to succeed, to flourish, and to forge a better society and a better world,” the American academic stated.
She said that the recently held general elections have opened a “window of hope for all of you, for all of us. In fact, the peaceful transfer of power in Nigeria is nothing less than a revolution.
It is a revolution of hope, and promise in a continent, most important country and economy. Odigie-Oyegun, a former civilian governor of Edo State called out the graduands to join forces with the party to rebuild Nigeria, stressing that upon coming into office on May 29, opportunities will be created for them to excel.
“I want to say and urge you to leave this place, leave this university and become agents of a new Nigeria. You’re most welcome to the real world. I am sure and certain you’ve been adequately prepared.
I want to assure you, the fresh graduands that Nigeria is waiting for you, and the APC is going to from the very minute it comes into office, start opening the doors of opportunity for you all,” the party chief said.
Though he observed that the country was passing through difficult times, he urged the graduating students to be tough and utilise the specialised knowledge gained from schooling in such a unique institution to proffer solutions to the problems. “Let me just put a caveat.
We as a people, as a nation, are going through very difficult times. The economy of this nation is near a state of collapse. The treasury of this nation is very near exhausted.
These are hard times. And when the times are hard, the tough gets going. You are going to join us in proffering solution to the new direction, the new trajectory on which this nation is going to embark from May 29, 2015.” He continued, “I want to specially congratulate the female gender in this university because both the class speaker and the valedictorian are both female.
And to cap it all, the representative of the alumni association also turned out to be a female. There must be something special about the chemistry of this university.
Today, I look at you and I don’t see a large crowd of graduands and I listen very carefully to the various specialisations of the best graduands.
You do not find a situation where there are 20, 30, 40, 50 with identical qualification, which goes to show and tell quite clearly that this is an institution that is imparting specialised knowledge to very special students. Which also means that the class size here must be something unique.
And that each and every one of you during your stay here has had the privilege of having personal and personalised attention. I want to say and urge you to leave this place, leave this university and become agents of the new Nigeria.
You’re most welcome to the real world. I am sure and certain you’ve been adequately prepared.” A total of 210 students graduated from the institution. Of this number, 184 were undergraduates and 24 of them finished in First Class Division.
Nineteen persons bagged master’s degrees, 11 of which were Master of Business Administration (MBA); four Master of Technology (Information Technology); four Master of Technology (Telecommunications) and seven Postgraduate Diploma in Management.
Since it started churning out graduates in 2009, the school has produced over 1, 300 graduates and postgraduates from its four schools, which are the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Enterprenuership, School of Information Technology and Computing and School of Graduate Studies.
Miss Hephzeber Obiorah, the valedictorian, who finished with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.99 (on a 4.00 scale) in English, Literature and Language, urged her fellow graduands to pursue their passions to be successful in life. On her secret of success, she said, “You have to love what you do.
I will give you the secret of success: passion. You know why? Because passion drives you.” “In AUN, there is a chance to explore, and that is not part of the regular Nigerian university. Here, you are allowed to explore. And in the process, when you make mistakes, you are picked up and corrected by those who are here to guide and teach you.
“The quality of education one gets in this school is awesome because there are so many things that you have to deal with in the average Nigerian university that are not just here.
With these distractions taken care of, you just have to sit down and read your books, which is the main reason we came here,” said the best graduating student.
One of the graduating students, who was considered by many as being too lucky to adorn the mortarboard and the school’s red and blue gown is Abubakar Umar, a 26-year-old petroleum chemistry major. The stout graduate, an embodiment of AUN’s commitment to scholarship and service to community, exudes courage and a very strong sense of determination.
Little wonder he had a minute-long standing ovation, and an award for courage at a dinner for the graduating class at the behest of the school. In November 2014, as he drove home to Kano, (a city 400 miles away from Yola), he ran into Boko Haram insurgents.
The religious bigots opened fire twice on his car. On both occasions, they hit him on different arms. “I think I should have died on that day, I could have died on that day.
I lost so much blood, there wasn’t any medication. But somehow I think the Lord kept me alive for a special reason and one of those reasons was to complete my degree,” a grateful Umar told reporters shortly after being bestowed with the maiden award for courage.
Despite being warned by fellow drivers on the dangers of taking the route he did, Umar launched his vehicle into the route, where military checkpoints were unmanned. As he approached Potiskum, a regular attack location for Boko Haram in Yobe State, on his homeward journey, he slowed to avoid potholes only to be saluted with a barrage of gunshots from the insurgents. “I just saw these people coming out of the bush. They were screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) and shooting at my car.
At first I stopped because some of them had military trousers and boots, but then I noticed their headbands and what they were saying, I realised they were insurgents. “They shot me in my right arm. I continued (driving). I didn’t know where I was going.
I just kept on driving. I thought I would reach a checkpoint and report the case. I never met any checkpoint. I slowed down again because of the road and they shot me for the second time. I fractured my arm.” With blood flowing from his wounds and a broken bone shooting out, he abandoned his car and made it to a village, where he was taken in by locals, even at their own peril.
There, he was quartered in a dirty toilet, where he passed out. On coming around, he was provided with salt and water mixture to stem the profuse bleeding. And after hiding all-day, he called for help via a borrowed mobile phone before proceeding to spend the night in the same village.
He was picked up the following day by friends and had to disguise in case he ran into the insurgents. “I put mud and chicken dung on my head to look like a madman.
I removed my shoes and put them in my pocket… (but) I didn’t see Boko Haram.” The then petroleum chemistry student returned to school in January with immense scars after undergoing surgical operations. Expectedly, he could not use his arms, especially the right one effectively for over 14 weeks.
“I couldn’t write, I couldn’t press (keys on) the computer. When the cast was removed, I was OK,” he submitted. For Umar, his family, friends and indeed the school, only plenty of good luck and providence kept him alive to graduate alongside his peers. “I’ve made it and I’ve graduated, so I’m very happy,” Umar concluded.