U.S. govt. immortalises late Nigerian student

The United States embassy in Nigeria has instituted a $20,000 grant in memory of Usman John-Paul, a final-year student of the University of Ilorin who died during a visit to the U.S.

Mr. John-Paul drowned in a water fall on June 25, 2016 while on Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.

The U.S embassy also donated books worth about $20,000 to the university’s library.

The embassy’s counselor on public affairs, Aruna Amirthanayagam, who disclosed this during a visit to the university, said the books and the prize were for young Nigerians working in the areas of Mr. John-Paul’s interest, namely Peace, Child Rights and Sustainable Development.

The diplomat described Mr. John-Paul as a young man who spent a short but meaningful life having been a child parliamentarian, a UNESCO prize winner and model student, who was on the Mandela fellowship at the time of his demise.

The U.S Fellowship, he disclosed, is awarded annually to 1,000 students in Africa, including 100 Nigerian Students.

Mr. Amirthanayagam, who was accompanied by the embassy’s coordinator of the Mandela Fellowship, Diran Adegoke, condoled with the family of Mr. John-Paul and the university.

He said the late Mr. John-Paul epitomised multiple talents and leadership qualities and advised students to join the Young African Leaders Initiative Network online for several benefits that await them.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University, AbdulGaniyu Ambali, said the university community believed that the demise of Mr. John-Paul was a divine call, which every soul has to answer at the appointed time.

He, however, maintained that the sad occurrence would not dampen the spirit behind the relationship between the university and the United States.

He said that staff and students of the university were endeared to the Fulbright programme of the United States and often apply for it.

Receiving the cheque and the book donation at the Auditorium Basement later on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovations), G. Olatunji, congratulated the United States for its contributions to the advancement of humanity and also commiserated with Mr. John-Paul’s father, Usman Paul, over the death of his beloved son.

While reacting to the honour accorded the late Mr. John-Paul, his father, Mr. Usman, who was also present on the occasion, recalled that it was exactly 11 months since he drove his son to the airport on his way to the United States.

Mr. Usman, an alumnus of the University of Ilorin, said as they made the journey to the airport, his son told him he would set up an NGO to cater for the less privileged.

He disclosed that the Usman family had set up John-Paul inspired Organisation in fulfillment of the dream.

The late Mr. John-Paul was a student of Information and Communication, ICS, department in the Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences. He was in 400 level when he died.

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Oladeinde Olawoyin reports Business & Economy, Development and Lagos Metro at PREMIUM TIMES. A First Class graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, he was nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2017. Aside maintaining a column titled ‘SATURDAY SATIRE’, he also writes art and culture pieces on weekends. Twitter: @Ola_deinde

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