Yusuf Nurudeen, Nigerian human rights lawyer and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers Forum, Ikeja Branch, is among 56 prominent Nigerians selected by the US government to participate in the 2023 cohort of its flagship exchange program, Mandela Washington Scholarship.
Nurudeen received the scholarship in recognition of the positive impacts of his non-profit organization, Foundation for Public Interest Law and Development, in providing free legal services and securing the release of several awaiting trial inmates.
The Foundation recently secured the release of a 44-year-old man, Muideen Bilau, who was held at the Kirikiri Correctional Center for nearly 10 years without trial.
Launched in 2014 by the administration of President Barack Obama, the Mandela Washington Scholarship for Young African Leaders is a US-sponsored program that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.
Each year, the scholarship provides hundreds of outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills while participating in an intensive six-week academic and leadership program at US colleges and universities, with a focus on Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management and Renewable Energies.
Upon completion of the Leadership Institutes, fellows will attend the annual Mandela Washington Scholarship Summit. They will participate in high-level workshops and dialogues with senior US government officials, business representatives, and stakeholder organizations in Africa.
Speaking about his selection for the scholarship, Nurudeen, former president of the Lagos State University (LASU) Students’ Union, said he was excited to be selected for the program and considered it a great opportunity.
“I am very excited to have been selected for the prestigious Mandela Washington Scholarship and consider it a great opportunity that I will treasure forever. For the 2023 application cycle, out of 14,000 young Nigerians who applied, fewer than 200 made it to the semi-final stage and only 56 of us ultimately won the scholarship. I’m happy to be among the selected changemakers.
“In June, I will be heading to Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts to study Leadership and Public Management. I look forward to learning new things and creating meaningful, lasting relationships and partnerships that will enhance the growth of my nonprofit foundation and broaden the reach and impacts of our work.
“I believe the fellowship will also provide me with a wealth of opportunities in the international development space, helping me forge strategic alliances with colleagues from Africa and the United States. It will also give me the necessary skills to work in a multicultural and global environment.”
Nurudeen thanked the United States government for investing in the next generation of young African leaders through the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
The human rights lawyer said his organization, the Foundation for Public Interest Law and Development, would continue to use the instrument of law to help those in need find trust and solace in the justice system.
“Our organization is dedicated to using the full force of the law to help those in need find trust and comfort in the justice system. Our thematic areas are legal research, legal education and advocacy on issues of public interest law, access to justice, rule of law, civil rights and development”, he said.
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