On Friday 28 October, the Nigeria High Commission in the United Kingdom held a presentation and networking event for Nigerian Commonwealth Scholars studying in the UK. Hosted by His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, this historic occasion was the first time that Nigerian Commonwealth Scholars had been invited to visit the Nigeria High Commission in the UK since the inception of Commonwealth Scholarship scheme in 1959.
Following the visit, the event co-organiser Olamide Eso, 2019 Commonwealth PhD Scholar and former CSC Regional Network Coordinator, shared her report on the talks and discussions that took place during this momentous day.
The Nigeria High Commission meeting for Commonwealth Scholars: A report by Olamide Eso
As a former Regional Network Coordinator for the Midlands region, I am used to organising events and activities for Scholars to support their work, but this event was particularly special. Coming from Nigeria myself, it was a privilege to work with the Nigeria High Commission in organising this event, which I hope can pave the way for future engagement between Nigerian Scholars and policymakers to support sustainable development initiatives.
Through stronger partnerships and synergy between the Nigeria High Commission, the CSC, and Nigerian Scholars, I believe that post-scholarship development projects can be successfully implemented and provide benefits for all parties.
About the event
This event provided a unique opportunity for Nigerian Commonwealth Scholars to meet the Nigeria High Commissioner, His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, and hear from a range of special guests including Emma Green, Deputy Head of the Scholarships, Tertiary Education and Partnerships Department (STEP) at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO); Professor Kevin Ibeh, CSC Commissioner and Pro Vice Chancellor at Birkbeck, University of London; Annabel Boud, Head of Commonwealth Scholarships at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU); and Patricia Aboyeji, Chair of the Nigerian Yoruba Community in Nottingham.
Why Commonwealth Scholarships matter for sustainable development
The event opened with words by Bukar Alkali Abdulsalam, Consular Education and Welfare at the Nigeria High Commission, who welcomed guests and outlined the event programme.
The first address was delivered by Emma Green, Deputy Head of the Scholarships, Tertiary Education and Partnerships Department (STEP), who highlighted the UK Government’s longstanding commitment to supporting students from Nigeria through Commonwealth Scholarships as well as the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the CSC.
Following on from this, CSC Commissioner Professor Kevin Ibeh talked about the lifechanging significance of a Commonwealth Scholarship award and the global recognition it afforded Scholars, supporting them to make a difference in their country and local communities.
After this, a select group of Scholars spoke about the research undertaken during their Commonwealth Scholarship and how it would make an impact on their return home. Chisom Soremekun talked about the significance of her research into diabetes for those with the condition; Mirian Ementu-Maxwell discussed how her conservation research would influence Nigeria’s educational curriculum; and Peter Komiti spoke about his work on human rights and how climate change policies can be designed to better protect vulnerable people. All three Scholars discussed the impact of their research on sustainable development in Nigeria and what was needed to close the knowledge gaps in their respective fields.
Strengthening relations between Nigeria and the UK
After the Scholars presentations, His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola delivered his address to guests. Thanking Scholars for their ongoing research efforts, he urged them to consider their work within the broader governance framework for public policy and how they could bridge the gap between research and policy implementation.
His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola praised the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office team in their ongoing collaboration with the Nigeria High Commission. He also stated his commitment towards delivering an annual welcome event for Nigerian Scholars at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK to promote future engagement.
The Ambassador’s address was followed by a presentation of Nigerian handmade souvenirs for guests and a congratulatory card for His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola to mark his recent conferment of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) national honour.
A thank you to all involved
The event concluded with an address by Annabel Boud, Head of Commonwealth Scholarships at the Association of Commonwealth Universities, who thanked the High Commissioner for generously hosting the event and attendees for taking the time to join.
Commending the hard work and initiative displayed by Olamide Eso in co-organising the event, Annabel expressed optimism about productive, long-term relations between the CSC, FCDO and the Nigeria High Commission which an annual engagement event would bring.
The talks were followed by light refreshments and a chance for participants to talk informally about their work and research.