The president of the American University of Nigeria on Saturday likened the founder of the university, Atiku Abubakar, to Thomas Jefferson, a former president of the United States of America.
Dawn Dekle, a professor and the fourth president of AUN, spoke to journalists after the university’s 10th commencement ceremony in Yola, Adamawa State.
“I see our founder, His Excellency, like Thomas Jefferson of the United States who was the third president,” Ms Dekle said.
“He started the University of Virginia and he also was very generous like our founder and so, he planted a seed.
“But then, as the years go on, you don’t think of the University of Virginia as the Thomas Jefferson family supporting it anymore.
“And so, it’s our job, as a learning community to make AUN sustainable for decades to come and it’s because of the generosity of the founder that we’re gonna do that, without his generosity we couldn’t start it and we’ll be forever grateful to him.
Mr Abubakar, who was vice president of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, established the AUN in 2004 as the first development university in sub-Saharan Africa.
Last March, he officially declared his intention to run for president in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
Earlier, during her inauguration, Ms Dekle said the best way to show their gratitude to Mr Abubakar for establishing AUN is to make the university sustainable for generations of students to come.
“Our gift back to our Founder will be a sustainable AUN,” she said.
“Therefore, from this day forward, the day of my inauguration, I wish to be known as the Sustainability President. I understand the challenges involved, as sustainability will require approaches and ideas that are not in place today.
“It will require all of us to have an entrepreneurial and growth mind-set. We can take some guidance from American President and Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, who said, ‘If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.’
“If we are to grow and move forward, we must take risks, and we must step outside of our comfort zones and invent new approaches to building AUN.
“Jointly we are responsible for, and are custodians of, AUN. The decisions that need to be made are in our hands. The policies that govern us point the way ahead. Our shared governance will unlock our imaginations.”