By Aaron Ossai
People sometimes wonder why an institution like the American University of Nigeria, AUN was established in the small town of Yola, Adamawa state. Many would have preferred to establish it in Abuja, the Federal Capital and center of political power, or in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub.
But the founder of this university, the former Vice President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar has built his life and his enormous success on not doing the conventional thing. He has taken risks and followed his own vision. In locating the American University of Nigeria in his home town far from the Nigerian centers of power, influence and money, he sought to create an institution with a unique mission. “The university must see itself”, he said “as a Developing University.”
“Development” means different things to different people. To His Excellency, it means “The effort to increase the productive capacity of a society, improve the people’s wellbeing and expand the frontiers of freedom while protecting the ecosystem for current and future generation.” To achieve this in Nigeria was his primary purpose for establishing the AUN. And where better than in his home town a region ripe for such development?
His Excellency’s career in public service, in politics and in business has given him a unique insight into the requirements and challenges of development in Nigerian setting. One of the greatest philanthropists in Africa, he has made it his life’s calling to use his resources where they will do the most good. He believes in Nigeria and Africa, in the future of Nigeria and Africa. And he knows that tomorrow’s peace, prosperity and justice will depend upon today’s youth, the future leaders being educated right now.
Today, the American University of Nigeria, the first to be envisioned as “Development University” is in the twelfth year. It is living out its mission, impacting many lives within its community and beyond. AUN has rooted its development mission deeply in its curriculum, encouraging both its faculty and students to undertake community centered research and activities.
His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar has always believed that his university must be a force for good in the world. It must be a place where new ideas are generated. It must be a place where young people can discover the best in themselves, can hone their minds and their spirits in service to their society, can create meaningful future for themselves and their families. It must be a place that transforms lives.
AUN is unique in Nigeria in incorporating many development projects into its teaching and research mission. Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TElA). Peace Through Sports, Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative, Waste-to-Wealth, Creating-With-Threads, Poverty-Spotlight, Feed and Read and AUN STEM Wizkids all coordinated through the Atiku Abubakar Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Development. The University has sought and continues to seek ways to realize its Founder’s dream.
The AUN community therefore felicitates a national icon and great benefactor, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Nigeria’s former Vice President and founder of the American University of Nigeria as he celebrates his 79th birthday. The people of AUN, the people of Yola and Adamawa state and the people of Nigeria are all greatly in his debt.
May we be worthy of his generosity and the keepers of his flame.
By Aaron Ossai