The American University of Nigeria president and members of the Adamawa Peace Initiative (API) met with members of the U.S. Congress and government officials to discuss the precarious situation in Nigeria’s northeast.
The delegation was in Washington, DC last week at the invitation of members of the House of Representatives Black Caucus, including Sheila Jackson Lee, Karen Bass and Frederica Wilson. University and API officials also met with Congressman Steve Chabot.
The University’s President Margee Ensign said that while members of Congress are well aware of the Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, there is less awareness about the immediate and long-term humanitarian and other needs of the region, especially food security.
“We came to Washington to share the story of people who have suffered a lot and will need help from the international community to rebuild their lives,” Ms. Ensign said.
“The people we met are very interested in the model and the programs we’ve developed to feed displaced people, promote food security, prevent young people from joining radical groups, and educating out of school children.”
Congresswoman Bass welcomed the group telling them one of the main reasons she serves in Congress is to help Africa, especially Nigeria, thrive. Americans, she said, tend to see a continent when they think about Africa, not individual countries that have very different needs and contributions to make.
An official representing the main U.S. development assistance agency praised the work of the University, saying that what has been accomplished is “magical.” He said his agency is especially pleased with the support provided to a University pilot program that teaches reading and writing to more than 20,000 out-of-school children using tablet computers and radio broadcasts.
The U.S. government has so far provided more humanitarian assistance to Nigeria than any other country.
Dr. Ensign was interviewed about the visit by National Public Radio. She was also asked to brief staff members of both U.S. presidential candidates as they prepare their positions on U.S. foreign policy.
Joining Dr. Ensign in Washington were AUN-API members Dauda Bello, Turai Abdulkadir and Stephen Ransom—all from Yola, Adamawa state. In addition to private meetings, the delegation made a formal public presentation, which included members of Congress and former U.S: Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell, who praised Nigerians’ energy and entrepreneurial spirit.
“Despite the current challenges,” he said, “the long-term odds are in Nigeria’s favour.”