Lancaster University

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Nigerian students' network launched at Lancaster

02/09/2007 11:39:10

from left: John McGovern, Akanimo Odon, Adeola Obileye, Dr Mark Abani and Prof Kevin Jones
from left: John McGovern, Akanimo Odon, Adeola Obileye, Dr Mark Abani and Prof Kevin Jones

Over a hundred people have attended the first ever International Conference of Nigerian Students organised by an award-winning Lancaster postgraduate.

Akanimo Odon, who won the British Council International Students Award 2006, aims to create a network of expatriates among the estimated 8,000 Nigerian students in the UK. He urged the students to see themselves as ambassadors of their country since they are the future leaders of Nigeria.

The two day conference in the Great Hall on campus was used to launch the Nigerian International Students Agenda (NISA) which aims to represent the interests of Nigerian students worldwide. One of NISA’s projects is a web-based chatroom and it will also act as a focus for career development and job placements.

The conference was attended by guest speakers including Councillor Afolasade Bright of Hackney Council, Dr Mark Abani the Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK, Mrs Adeola Obileye Minister of the Consular and Welfare Department at the Nigerian High Commission, the Chief Executive of Lancaster City Council Mark Cullinan and the Lancaster and Wyre MP Ben Wallace.

Mr Wallace told the delegates that: “Given the size of the country and the resources you have, Nigeria can become the true giant of Africa. It can become a powerful economic force to reckon with in the continent if strategic participation is employed to tap into the benefits of globalisation.”

Prof Kevin Jones of the Environmental Science Department at Lancaster University gave a presentation on the collaborative network of his environmental research group and the potentials for Nigerian partnerships, while John McGovern, Director of the University’s International Office, spoke about Higher Education and the role of Nigeria.

There were also representatives from the British Council, the National Union of Students and the London Academy for Higher Education.

The speeches were followed by a networking session while delegates enjoyed music and poetry at an evening buffet.

Akanimo is 26 and studying for a PhD in the environmental sciences. He won the title of International Student of the Year 2006 at the British Council’s annual Shine awards and acts as a postgraduate ambassador for the University. He has also co-founded the Xn Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which organised the conference.