Two bright Nigerians who are beneficiaries of the Lebanese-Nigeria Initiatives (LNI) annual full MBA scholarship, to study at the prestigious American University of Beirut (AUB), one of the iconic universities in the world, have pledged to use the knowledge and leadership training acquired to impact the lives of youths in Nigeria. At a meet and greet in Lagos Nigeria, Ajibola Olubando and Johnson Nwazuruahu said they are fired up to help young Nigerians through mentoring programmes to navigate their career paths.
According to both beneficiaries, this is especially for those undergoing the mandatory NYSC scheme and wondering “what next” after the service year. They said a majority of young graduates in Nigeria need guidance and inspiration at this critical stage of their lives.
Recounting their respective experiences from the American University of Beirut, both scholars said the academic and leadership training they went through at AUB has given them a new optimistic perspective on life, which they intend to bring to bear in a bid to impact the social and economic landscape of Nigeria.
“The programme was helpful because it opened my eyes to other aspects of business beyond Engineering”, said Olubando.
For Nwazuruoha, “AUB is a fantastic university with very experienced and accessible lecturers. Lebanon is a country of people with great business acumen, I have learnt a lot from them”.
Speaking at the meet and greet in Lagos, Faysal El Khalil, Chairman of the Lebanese-Nigeria Initiatives, said LNI was established by business leaders of the Lebanese community in Nigeria to strengthen the good relationship between Nigerians and Lebanese living and working in Nigeria.
El Khalil said the MBA scholarship at AUB is one of several socio-economic projects by the Lebanese community in Nigeria aimed at giving back to the Nigerian society that has provided the enabling environment for Lebanese to live, work and thrive since the 18th century when the first Lebanese settlers came to Nigeria.
Furthermore, he said LNI has endowed the sum of US $1.5m with the American University of Beirut to ensure that the MBA scholarship for one young Nigerian every year is in perpetuity.
“As far as AUB continues to exist, the opportunity for LNI to send one young Nigerian for the MBA programme on full scholarship will continue”, said El Khalil.
The scholarship will add to the pool of highly skilled and knowledgeable Nigerians who are willing and able to come back to the country and contribute to building a more prosperous and egalitarian society.
Speaking at the event also, Ali Safieddine, Vice-Chairman Lebanese Nigerian Initiatives said Nigeria has become a home to second and third-generation Lebanese people, who have socially and culturally integrated into the fabric of the Nigerian society. Safieddine charged the LNI MBA AUB scholars to be good ambassadors of their school, Lebanon and Nigeria having experienced the people and culture during their stay.
He said Lebanon has a rich history which the LNI MBA scholars would have discovered, noting that AUB boosts of a multicultural environment and has produced great scientists, literary icons, Presidents, and heads of governments around the globe.
Explaining the criteria for the selection of the LNI MBA scholarship winners at AUB, Safieddine said the candidates are chosen out of numerous applicants who must satisfy the stringent admission requirements of AUB and also be ready and willing to return to Nigeria to use their education to impact the society. The search for the next set of awardees will happen in 2022.
Prospective applicants who must be Nigerians resident in the country are enjoined to visit the Lebanese-Nigeria Initiatives website for details on how to apply.