President Margee Ensign has assured visiting participants in the Executive Intelligence Management Course of the National Institute for Security Studies of opportunities for collaboration between the two institutions.
During a briefing on Monday, April 25, 2022, President Ensign told the visitors that AUN is creating awareness about the dangers posed by insecurity and climate change on the environment and food security in the region.
President Ensign stated that the American University of Nigeria launched the Global Center for Out of School Children and the Center for Conflict Analysis, Early Warning, and Peacebuilding primarily to respond to these challenges. The intent is to build the data for a better understanding of the destabilizing interactions between insecurity, illiteracy, climate change, weakened governing institutions, and extremist violence in northern Nigeria and in the West African Sahel region.
She said it is vital to have early warning systems in place, not just for conflict but also for issues like food security which can lead to conflict.
The President also explained to the visiting Executive Course participants that the long history of involvement of the American University of Nigeria in Peacebuilding and service to the local community stems from its mission as a Development University.
"Our founder said there is one thing I want you to do out there - be a development university, make sure every young person graduating from AUN has the knowledge, skill, and confidence to solve problems like conflict, poverty, malnutrition, or insecurity.”
The President explained further that, "Every student at AUN works on one of our community projects, including teaching kids right outside this gate, the Almajiri children, who never had the opportunity to go to School. We have educational programs throughout the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.”
The President urged the course participants to have open minds, and to think deeply about global solutions to local problems, adding that the World Bank argues that the most pressing problems facing humanity at this point are Covid-19, conflict, and climate change. All three problems are interwoven; it is important to develop a multidisciplinary approach to addressing them.
President Ensign informed the visitors that the decision of former Commandant of the United States War College, General John Dem, to join the Advisory Board of the AUN Center for Conflict Analysis, Early Warning and Peacebuilding is an indication of the seriousness the University's attaches to a multidisciplinary approach to issues like climate change, conflict, and hunger.
"I learned a great deal about what the US army and the military infrastructure does in the US, and that partnership helped everyone. So, we are very serious. With our new Center for Conflict Analysis, Early Warning and Peacebuilding, I think that we could support each other.”
She charged the course participants with finding solutions to Nigeria's population explosion, and to its challenge to security and the environment.
"Can a country really thrive with that many young people out of school? We believe that it cannot. Education is the foundation of every society. That is why we are doing our part here with these kids on the street. It is not only an individual problem for them; it also contributes to conflict.
"Just to keep pace with where we are right now, we will have to double the number of schools, hospitals, and universities--and right now that number itself is not adequate. There are a lot of solutions here, and many of them are digital. We would be happy to partner with you on coming up with some really important solutions to these issues.”
The President assured them that AUN is committed to its mission as a solution provider. "At AUN, we are working hard on these issues, not just to make sure that our students are prepared, but also to make sure that our community is improving.
"We have a project that is called Waste to Wealth and another called Creating with Thread. People from this community pick up plastic and weave it into beautiful products that are sold in Abuja and Lagos. In Creating with Threads discarded fabric is recycled for tailoring within the community. So, we are working really hard on sustainable solutions.”
The delegation leader, Mrs. E. E. Oyeleye, expressed appreciation to the AUN management for receiving them and sharing ideas with the course participants. President Ensign and the Syndicate (course) leader later exchanged gifts on behalf of their institutions. Senior AUN Management, including the Provost/VPAA, Professor Attahir Yusuf, were present at the presentation.
Reported by Tina Bitrus