British Council Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Creating Opportunities, Urged to Reach More People
As the British Council celebrates its 75th Anniversary in Nigeria while revving up for the next 75 years, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has challenged the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, to reach more people and help to strengthen the glorious partnership between the UK and Nigeria.
The governor who was represented by Mrs. Abosede Adelaja, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Culture, made this plea in his goodwill message as the British Council launched its 75th anniversary of creating opportunities in Nigeria with a special dinner event as a precursor to a chain of events planned to span a whole year, said that he looks forward to the British Council next 75 years in Nigeria with great hope.
The governor optimistically aligns with the Teresa May, the British Prime Minister’s key message for a “refreshed partnership between the UK and Nigeria based on opportunities that will benefit both of our esteemed nations”, when she visited Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu gives a thumb up to the British Council’s support and interventions programmes in education, Sports and the Creative sector. “The Nigerian creative industry has been identified as one of the fastest growing globally. In 2016 growth hit 15.7% and the creative industries were worth US$3.8 billion to the economy”, he observes.
The governor also commends the British Councils series of interventions on security, media and development; and justice and security. “The Justice for All programme which lasted from 2010 – 2017 improved safety and security for all Nigerians by raising the capability, accountability and responsiveness of the key organisations in the sector”.
While welcoming guests and associates to the event, Country Director Nigeria and West Africa Director, British Council Lucy Pearson says, “75 years for the British Council means a lot to us and we are delighted you are joining us to be a part of this great milestone”.
Lucy, who excitedly declared that she is “immensely proud and privileged to do what I do”, having been in Nigeria for the last 5 years directing the affairs of the organisation that recently clocked 75 years in Nigeria, declares that the British Council promotes friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries.
“We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust”.
Lucy highlights that in Nigeria, through the British Council’s programmes, “we have created life-changing opportunities for millions of people and last year alone we touched the lives of over 50 million Nigerians”.
Swayed by the “can do” spirit of three young Nigerians that have been mentored and supported to excel as entrepreneurs, she said “I have met many amazing people and seen what I would like to call the true Nigerian spirit”, adding that this anniversary celebration will be used as a platform to further showcase the Nigerian spirit – the creativity and passion, resilience and innovation, energy and entrepreneurship – and tell the many inspiring stories through the eyes of the participants of our programmes”.
She gave a few examples of the British Council’s millions of success stories and interventions in Nigeria. One of such is Nasir Yammama, founder of Verdant, an Agric-tech social enterprise that supports smallholder rural farmers to use their mobile phones for sustainable farming and improved production. Nasir applied for the British Council’s enterprise challenge in 2014 and won the competition, he was mentored by business magnate, Sir Richard Branson. In less than a year, his enterprise grew from 50 farmers in Katsina to 25,000 farmers. He was featured in Forbes 30 under 30 list of 2017 and in the same year the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award in England.
She also cited the example Itoro Eze Anaba a lawyer and Founder of the Mirabel Centre, who had been actively involved in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Nigeria. In 2003, the British Council sponsored her on a trip to Manchester to attend a seminar on Violence Against Women. In 2013, the Mirabel Centre was open to provide free medical and psychosocial support to survivors of rape and sexual assault. To date, the centre had provided services to over 6,000 clients from different parts of Lagos State. This has led to the establishment of 11 additional Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) nationwide to reach more people.
Another success story is Doofan Kwaghool, an artist and art teacher. She was a participant at the British Council’s Go Woman Go! The project, a collaboration between British Artist Laura Aldridge and women in Abuja, designed to help rekindle her love for textile and crafts. “She was taught new methods, expanded her network to reach more people and generated a new source of income. Today, she wears and sells her tie and dye fabric and offers training to people who are interested in the craft”, Lucy reveals.
Lucy promises that the British Council will reach more people, do “even bigger” things working in partnership with people in Nigeria – institutions, civil society organizations, young entrepreneurs and building connections and rev up the impact beyond the current level.
Efe, a poet delivered his “Spoken Words” with the theme “the Audacity of Hope” to entertain and inspire the audience about the uniqueness, rare quality, and ingenuity of the Nigerian spirit of resilience and enterprise.