Nigerian graduates share experiences of Ireland with new alumni network
2017-10-15 11:20:00 -
Education
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

A new initiative aimed at strengthening the bilateral relationship between Ireland and Nigeria was recently launched at the Irish Embassy in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

 

The Ireland Nigeria Alumni Network brought together more than 40 graduates to share their experiences of studying in Ireland.

 

Among them was Haruna Poloma, a University of Limerick alum who highlighted how the knowledge and experience he acquired led him to write a bestseller on the first regular combatant of the Nigerian Army, Zakariya Maimalari, who was killed during the first military coup in 1966.

 

Poloma said the skills he learned at UL made the writing and launch of The First Regular Combatant a huge success, with plaudits from a who’s-who of serving and former soldiers, including former heads of state Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

Speaking earlier at the launch, which coincided with the Enterprise Ireland’s Education Fair for Nigeria in Abuja and Lagos, Ireland’s Ambassador to Nigeria Sean Hoy said the network can “provide a unique platform whereby the talents of all Irish graduates resident in Nigeria can be harnessed, and channeled towards fostering social, economic, political and cultural relations between Ireland and Nigeria.

 

“Nigeria and Ireland have always enjoyed cordial relations that dates back to well over a century and a half ago,” he added, referencing the “invaluable supporting role” that Irish missionaries played in education and social care services across Nigeria’s religious and ethnic divides.

 

“These stories of selflessness that cannot be quantified in monetary terms still reverberates all over the country today,” he said. “In many ways, the missionaries were our first ‘informal ambassadors’ before the establishment of Ireland’s first diplomatic mission on the African continent in Nigeria in 1960.”

 

The ambassador also noted how “a decent number of Nigerians, who have gone on to shape the socio-economic and political landscape of Nigeria, such as Nigeria’s first Foreign Minister, Jaja Wachuku, and women’s rights activist, Margaret Ekpo, were educated in Ireland.”

 

Another connection many may be unaware of concerns Chinua Achebe’s landmark novel Things Fall Apart, which Ambassador Hoy says was named for a line from ‘The Second Coming’ by Irish poet and Nobel laureate WB Yeats.

 

Since becoming Ireland’s top diplomat in Nigeria, Ambassador Hoy says he has been proactive in efforts fostering strong economic and cultural ties with Nigeria. 

 

During his watch, Ireland organised the largest ever trade mission to Africa, involving representatives from 42 Irish companies, universities and colleges. 

 

A more recent legacy is the Ireland Education Fair, held from 25-30 September. It marked the second this year alone and one of several study-in-Ireland events held since the trade mission two years ago, attracting hundreds of Nigerian students interested in furthering their education in Ireland.

 

Ambassador Hoy said he hoped the positive experiences of Nigerian alumni of Irish universities, whom he described as “worthy ambassadors of Ireland”, would “stir up more interest about education in Ireland in the minds of prospective international students from Nigeria and also build cross-cultural bridges.”

 

For further information or to join the alumni network, email irelandnigerialumni@dfa.ie


TAGS : Ireland Nigeria Alumni Network Irish Embassy in Nigeria Sean Hoy
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