This week brought the usual UK-Nigeria meeting at which a number of issues were discussed. But at this juncture I would like to take a moment to highlight another part of the two groups’ work together - namely how our network can be utilised for good.
On January 9th, Dadamac in the UK received a message from Peoples-uni (Australia), an organisation which is building public health capacity using internet based e-learning. In this message, staff there informed us that they had received a message from one of their Nigerian students, who was clearly distressed. This student had informed them that he was in the process of being evacuated to safe ground after enduring a set of very unpleasant experiences, which saw him trapped amid Nigeria’s ongoing unrest.
An urgent text message was quickly sent to John Dada in Northern Nigeria to ascertain that the student (as well as himself and Fantsuam Foundation) were safe. John responded quickly to say that he wasn’t aware of any specific incident but would investigate.
He immediately did so and was able to tell us via email that the student had in fact left FF a couple of years ago and that he now works with one of their funding partners in the capital city (I believe he had learned of and registered with peoples-uni whilst with John). John had called his number, but couldn't get through, so he instead rang one of his colleagues and asked them to help.
A few hours later we were all very relieved to hear from peoples-uni that the student had been in touch with them. Apparently he was most grateful for the concern and assured them that he was now back in Abuja and that an extension for his assignment submission had been agreed. As Dick from the peoples uni quipped: “As excuses go, it certainly beats, 'The dog ate my homework'!”
John went on to explain: “It was in the north eastern parts where the extreme Islamic sect had been creating terrible mayhem and, although these are indeed perilous times in some parts of Nigeria, all it requires to stay safe and well most times is plain common sense.
But an interesting outcome of this incident is the readines of the Peoples Open Uni and Dadamac networks to be mobilised for a common concern.”
Dick also explained via emails that many of Peoples-uni students, IT support and some tutors are Nigerian. As a result, Peoples-uni takes a keen interest in the situation in Nigeria and Dick expressed the hope that there will be future, less stressful, opportunities for collaboration!
Note: The photo above was sent by Fola ( Dadamac’s outpost in Ago-Are) yesterday and shows the real impact of the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy on everyday Nigerians. The usually busy junction is eerily empty of cars and we were also sent photos of people playing football on the deserted roads which would usually be busy with traffic.