French Ambassador to Nigeria, Gauer Makes Historic Visit to FUNAI
As part of the landmark collaboration between the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State and the French Government, the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Dennys Gauer, was in the University yesterday in an official visit.
The partnership, a first of its kind in the Nigerian University system is providing post-graduate scholarship opportunities to qualified academic staff of the institution in celebrated French Universities.
Welcoming the envoy to the University during a colourful event organized in his honour, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, noted that the visit was highly valued and would also be recorded as a significant event in the history of the young university.
“Your Excellency, we are proud that we have been offered this opportunity by the country you represent; a major player in world affairs with an old history of sustaining partnerships”, he stated.
He also appreciated the role France played in nurturing the Paris Agreement on Climate change, noting that he was a negotiator for Nigeria at the COP21 in France in 2015 where the Paris Agreement was delivered. In that line, he added that FUNAI was laying the foundation for a Green Campus that is able to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“In the last year FUNAI planted over 5000 trees, and currently all street lights on the FUNAI Campus are solar-powered.
“We have also decided that all new developments in FUNAI will be Green-compliant. These are aimed at contributing to achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement on reducing carbon footprints and ensuring average world temperature of not more than 2 degrees Celsius above Pre-industrial levels”, the Vice Chancellor stressed.
Nwajiuba further thanked the French government for partnering the University to build the capacities of its academic staff, stressing that it provides opportunity to raise a new generation of quality academics who will determine the character of the university.
He maintained that FUNAI plans to be a renowned University, known for its diversity, saying that “A world-class university must not only have diversity of faculty, but also of students.”
“We believe that a critical number of staff trained in France will support our internationalization plans”, the Vice Chancellor concluded.
The professor of Agricultural economics vowed to work towards expanding the frontiers of the partnership in order to make FUNAI the university in Nigeria with the strongest identity, character, and linkage with France.
Delivering a lecture on “The Influence of French and Francophone Policies on Nigeria”, the French envoy, Gauer said Africa was a priority of France’s foreign policy, noting that in coming years there would be increase in the development efforts of the country in Africa in order to help the continent achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“37% of France’s 8.6 billion euros aid goes to sub-Saharan African, making it the first recipient of our funding. The French development agency has been active in Nigeria for ten years only, but its activity has been expanding rapidly”, he stated.
Highlighting the benefits of the FUNAI – French government collaboration, Gauer said: “Through an agreement signed in January 2016, FUNAI, TETFUND and the French government have delivered or are about to deliver 35 scholarships, enabling as many trainees to pursue Master or PhD studies in the best French universities in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Dijon or Grenoble.”
He described FUNAI as an enterprising young University that is expanding rapidly, adding that in a few years the post-graduate scholars would come back from France to contribute to the development and success of the university.
The French envoy further acknowledged the hard work and dedication of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nwajiuba, which made the partnership possible, adding that the embassy of France in Nigeria and Campus France were proud of the accomplishments of the relationship. He also stressed the importance of education in laying foundations for a better future and the mutual enrichment that comes from the sharing of knowledge and experiences through exchange programs, promising to expand the collaborative efforts to other areas.
The official visit provided the French ambassador the opportunity to visit not just the University but also Ebonyi State for the first time. The event was witnessed by many dignitaries that included the governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Dave Umahi represented by the Commissioner of Education, Prof. John Ekeh, wife of the first President of Nigeria, Prof. (Mrs.) Uche Azikiwe, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, former Ministers, some members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, notable academics, traditional rulers, and the clergy as well as staff and students of the University.