Some 17 young Nigerians are now graduants of the 2021 cohort of the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative (CYFI) at the instance of the United States Consulate.
Addressing the fellows at a graduation ceremony at the US Consulate on Victoria Island, Lagos, the Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Seun Fakorede urged the young men and women not to allow their immediate environment to stop them from exploring their potentials.
Mr Fakorede who was appointed a Commissioner at the age of 27, and recently clocked 30, told the Carrington Fellows and other Nigerian youths to see the World as their playing-field.
“Whatever we do, let’s us ensure that we place it side by side with what is obtainable outside of our nation, outside of our continent, because the competition is global,” he admonished the graduants.
“Value in Nigeria will definitely [be] value anywhere else if truly it is value. Don’t let our environment limit us; challenge yourself, go the extra mile, and do more. The truth is; the paradigm has shifted and you have to be able to recognise it. If not, you are going to end up playing catch-up.”
The 17 young Nigerians who were selected through a very competitive process, had, during the 12-month long fellowship, designed and implemented five community projects that have directly reached over 300 beneficiaries across five communities in Lagos State.
Their projects were focused on promoting civic engagement, economic empowerment, education, health care delivery and environmental conservation.
In a goodwill message, a member of the CYFI board of trustees, Dr Arese Carrington advised the Fellows not to be enticed by corruption, but instead to continue to be of service to humanity.
“Your class is the first graduating class since the passing of Ambassador Carrington,” she said.
“As you now continue in your chosen careers, do not be enticed by corruption instead be of service to humanity. You will be part of a growing critical mass of a new generation of Nigerians devoted to promoting social justice. The values you have gained through this fellowship are what are required for democracy, good governance, human rights, peace and security.
“Never stop dreaming or daring to effect the needed change because you are the hope for the future of the country and the world. If you dare, your dreams are realized eventually.”
Earlier, the US Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Stephen Ibelli, who estimated the current number of CYFI Fellows at 174, said the Fellowship further affirmed the US government’s commitment to the development of Nigeria.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of certificates to the Fellows, as a number of them also received “outstanding performance” awards.
Inspired by Walter Carrington, US Ambassador to Nigeria from 1993- 1997, CYFI brings together young Nigerians of exceptional vision, skills and experience to design and implement projects that will have a positive impact on the society.
The CYFI was launched in 2011 by the US Consulate in Lagos, 14 years after the departure of Ambassador Carrington, who was a champion of civil liberties, democracy and closer ties between the US and Nigeria.
Application for the next Cohort opens on June 3, 2022.
Reporting by Omolara Omosanya; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor