First French Alumni gathering in Abuja (25th July 2017)
The Ambassador of France hosted a cocktail reception at his residence on the 25th of July in honour of French Alumni and soon-to-leave new students. The event was an occasion for older alumni to meet with the younger generation and share their experience of France with them. It took place in the presence of Members of Parliament, academics, Total representatives and other distinguished guests.
As HE Denys Gauer put it, the diversity of the gathering proved how vibrant Franco-Nigerian relations are today. He reminded the audience that 250 000 foreign students choose France every year, of whom more than 100 000 hail from Africa. This makes France the 4th largest host country in the world, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. It is the first non-English-speaking host country. 75 000 foreign students benefit from French government scholarships every year. In Nigeria, these are joined scholarships, either with state governments, such as Kano or with universities such as FUNAI or companies like Total. All these sponsors were present at the gathering.
Hon. Mohammed Ibrahim Garba, Member of the House of Representatives, knight in the French Order of the palmes académiques and President of the Franco-Nigerian Parliamentary Friendship Commission stressed the fact that Nigerian students going to France today will go to a France that has undergone profound changes. Indeed, they will be able to take all their courses in English, whereas their elders struggled to learn French at the same time as they were starting their regular programmes. He saluted the present opportunity to reactivate and enrich Franco-Nigerian relations and briefly explained how the Kano government came to launch a joined scholarship programme with the Embassy. 23 advanced students from Kano will go to France in late August 2017 to pursue their Master or PhD studies.
The event had several moving moments as older alumni met again, some of them for the first time in thirty or fourty years. They had gone to France in the late seventies under a Franco-Nigerian programme that aimed at training 1500 middle to higher level technicians. That programme was designed in accordance with Nigeria’s Third National Development Plan (1975-80).
Total scholarship holders (8) exchanged contact details with their counterparts sponsored by Kano and FUNAI (20) and other new students. All of them will be expected to take the floor at next year gathering.