Nigeria is poised to be one of the most important nations in the world. It has the resources, the population, the creative and entrepreneurial power, and the geopolitical presence to lead Africa and the world through some of the great global challenges of this century.
Bill Gates, along with Warren Buffet, are investing heavily in Nigeria’s future. The Gates Foundation has programmed $1.6 billion towards helping solve major social and economic problems in the country. Gates, an objective and reasoned observer of the potential of Nigeria, clearly identifies the problems that stand in the way of reaching the country’s potential. I share his view, which is why I strongly support giving Atiku Abubakar a chance to lead Nigeria into its rightful position of world leadership.
Gate’s said in a recent trip to Nigeria:
“If you invest in their health, education, and opportunities — the “human capital” we are talking about today — then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognize that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.”
Education, particularly girls’ early education, and primary health care, with a strong emphasis on early childhood nutrition, are sadly lacking in Nigeria’s investment plan. These areas are where prior Nigerian politicians have failed. The results of this systematic neglect of the basics are that millions of poorly educated and poorly nourished Nigerians are left without the capacity or the tools to face the future.
In 2010, at the request of the then newly appointed president of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), I joined the governing board of that Institution. I continue to serve as vice chairman of the Board, dedicating my time and effort without compensation. During this time, I have had the opportunity to observe and interact with AUN’s founder and chief benefactor, Atiku Abubakar, on a personal and professional level.
I have worked and lived in Africa since 1968 and have been part of developing several institutions of higher education on the continent. In no other country have I encountered a person who has dedicated so much of his personal fortune to supporting an American-styled University. I have dedicated my professional career to that approach and to the use of education as a fulcrum to improve the world we live in. The opportunity to assist in this pioneering effort to create a University in impoverished rural North-Eastern Nigeria has been an honor and a privilege.