The American University of Nigeria will host its 12th Founder’s Day on Saturday, November 25. Joe Parkinson, of The Wall Street Journal, will give the traditional keynote speech, among other activities lined up to honor the founder and celebrate the values and vision of Africa’s first university to focus on entrepreneurship and development.

The Wall Street Journal, based in New York City, is America’s most circulated newspaper with more than 2 million copies daily (including digital subscriptions).

Announcing the choice of Mr. Parkinson, President Dawn Dekle of AUN said, “The university community is deeply honored to have him on our beautiful campus, and as the twelfth speaker at our annual Founder’s Day.”

Mr. Parkinson is an award-winning journalist who has covered revolutions, conflicts, and economic crises in more than 40 countries. As bureau chief, he leads a team of correspondents chronicling business, policy, and geopolitical trends across the continent from his base in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr. Parkinson and his team cover the political and economic changes sweeping the continent, from elections in Kenya to revolutions in the Gambia, and the war against radical terrorism.

He has a particular passion for Nigeria, coming to the country as often as he can to study the continent’s most exciting nation. In the past year alone, he has written extensively about Nigeria’s economy, the oil industry, and the battle against terrorism.

Before moving to Africa, Mr. Parkinson was WSJ’s Bureau Chief in the Middle East, reporting on the so-called Arab Spring uprisings and the global migration crisis. He was in Libya during the revolution that toppled Colonel Gaddafi and reported extensively on Syria’s uprising and the rise of Islamic State in Iraq. His work covering Syria’s refugee crisis won The European Press Prize in 2015, and his coverage of the failed coup in Turkey was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize.

Most recently, he was on the front lines as Zimbabwe eased out President Mugabe from power, and his coverage of the story was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. His comments were widely re-tweeted and shared on social media worldwide. His passion for journalism goes further back: He started a school newspaper when he was 12. Mr. Parkinson holds two degrees from the London School of Economics.

He is expected to show his Nigerian passion and field experience to the celebration of the founding, development, and remarkable progress of the American University of Nigeria. The day coincides with the November 25 birth anniversary of Nigeria’s former Vice President, HE Atiku Abubakar GCON, whose unparalleled vision, philanthropy and love for education led to AUN’s birth in 2003. Atiku will be 71 on Saturday.

AUN emerged from HE Atiku Abubakar’s response to the yearning for an excellent center of learning in sub-Saharan Africa. He founded AUN in collaboration with other local and international political and academic leaders, with a mission to pioneer service learning and build leaders who will be prepared to tackle societal challenges.

It has become a yearly tradition since 2010 to celebrate the man who believes in education as the mechanism to provide solutions to the numerous economic and social challenges of Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large. Founder’s Day is a tradition of American universities.

“As we count down to this Saturday’s celebration of our Founder and his contributions to higher education in Nigeria,” continued AUN President Dekle, “we deem it a great honor to be associated with a man who received the first Harry Wofford Global Citizen Award in 2011 at the American Peace Corps 50th Anniversary celebration for his uncommon generosity and support to higher education.”

Other side events lined up for the annual celebration include an official graduation ceremony on Thursday, November 23, of the AUN Feed and Read program through which the university prepares street children (almajiri) for formal schooling.

In addition, The Atiku Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship & Development, currently housed at AUN, will hold its eighth lecture in a series starting since the center’s inception in 2013.

The guest lecturer, a distinguished research professor, Paul E. Lovejoy, of York University’s Department of History, will present on “Said Muhammad Ali: A Bornu Slave Who Ended Up A US Civil War Veteran.”

– Dan Okereke, ED, Communications & PR, AUN, Yola


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