Encouraging Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Nigeria (AE-FUNAI) Staff and Students currently outside Nigeria in this period of COVID-19
A message by the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba
Dear Colleagues and friends,
As we deal with the challenge of COVID-19, an unexpected pandemic, that has befallen the world, we remember all our staff and students currently outside Nigeria. I strongly suspect that of all Nigeria institutions, including universities and others, we are probably the most exposed to the challenge of COVID-19. As a university that has become very internationalized, I count over seventy of our staff and students outside Nigeria. They are in places such as Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Japan, and others.
These include not only about forty staff currently under the Franco-FUNAI collaboration studying for the Masters and Doctoral degrees, and residing in virtually all parts of France, but also others involved with other programmes in France and other countries on the PTDF and other sponsorships. They include our students currently in Sweden under the Erasmus programme and student exchange programmes. They include colleagues on fellowships in the United States, Canada, Italy, China, Japan, and others. Like I stated earlier, we are likely the most exposed, and if not, we certainly rank among the most exposed institutions in Nigeria
This message is in solidarity, and to let them know we are thinking about them. We rely on our strong national culture of prayers and remember them in our prayers. I ask all of us to bear them all up in prayers.
As we know, we must back our prayers with efforts. I therefore issue this message through the Public Relations Office, the Directorate of Internationalization, the Coordinator of the Franco-FUNAI collaboration, the Desk Officer TETFund AST+D, and indeed all colleagues, to ensure that each of them receives this message of encouragement.
We will be glad to receive their feedbacks, responses, replies and assurances of their well-being and health.
As many countries shut down, we ask them to stock food items, find available means of boosting immunity, and most critically, obey all directives issued by their host countries.
We expect their regular updates, and possibly daily communication, we can in solidarity, have peace of mind, when we know they are well.
We ask them to be in contact with each other, especially those residing in the same country, and be familiar with available opportunities if anyone of them feels at risk.
We know that Nigerians are often comfortable with self-medication, but we plead that this is a period not to try that. Any feeling of unwellness, especially along the announced signs of this disease, should be reported immediately to medical institutions in the host countries. Please no self-medication. When you return home, please obey the University position of reporting to the designated officers, using the phone number earlier communicated. Also please observe the advised period for self-isolation.
The world is obviously traumatized and passing through very difficult times. The beauty and the paraphernalia of the world, which man seeks to recreate in his human image, and often over-focused on the satiation of the body, and which man has often arrogantly celebrated as achievement, has become accomplice in what the French Prime Minister Macron, has described as akin to a war, confronted with the forces of COVID-19, and the world is evidently shutting down. Leading in this shutdown are the worldly strong, often trusting in what she believes she has achieved. Shakespeare in AS YOU LIKE stated that sweet are the uses of adversity (Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. – As You Like It Act 2, scene 1, 12–17).
The irony of the states of strength calling for prayers. What lessons are in these? Man, in the arrogance of his strength is rattled by an unexpected army of a virus, responds with deaths and tears, and then closing shops, cafes, cinemas, air travel, and indeed all travels, and many more. Yet, man in his resilience is not asleep, working tirelessly in the search of vaccines, and cures.
And then, all we have left to encourage everyone is to say, be strong, and know that, even this shall pass away.
2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Thank you all as you pass this message of encouragement to our staff and students.
God bless you,
Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba
Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Nigeria
March 18, 2020.