• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Nigerian human rights lawyer bags Mandela Washington Fellowship


A Nigerian human rights lawyer and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers’ Forum, Ikeja Branch, Yusuf Nurudeen has been selected by the United States government to participate in the 2023 cohort of its flagship exchange programme, Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Nurudeen was awarded the fellowship in recognition of the positive impacts of his non-profit organization, Foundation for Public Interest Law and Development, in providing free legal services for and securing the release of several awaiting trial inmates.

Recently, the Foundation secured the release of a 44-year-old man, Muideen Bilau who was held at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre for almost 10 years without trial.

Launched in 2014 by the administration of President Barack Obama, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a US-sponsored programme that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training and networking.

Every year, the fellowship provides hundreds of outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills as they participate in a six-week intensive academic and leadership programme at US colleges and universities, with focus on Business & Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management, and Renewable Energy.

Upon conclusion of the Leadership Institutes, the fellows will attend the annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit where they will engage in high-level workshops and dialogues with top US government officials, representatives from businesses and organisations with interest in Africa.

Speaking on his selection for the fellowship, Nurudeen who is a former Students’ Union President at the Lagos State University (LASU), said he was excited to be selected for the programme and considered it a great opportunity.

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He said: “I feel so excited to be selected for the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, and I consider it a great opportunity which I will forever cherish. For the 2023 application cycle, of the 14,000 young Nigerians that applied, less than 200 applicants made it to the semi-final stage and only 56 of us were eventually awarded the fellowship. I am happy to be amongst the selected changemakers.

“In June, I will be heading to the Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts to study Leadership and Public Management. I look forward to learning new things and creating meaningful and long-lasting relationships and partnerships that will enhance the growth of my non-profit foundation and expand the scope and impacts of our works.

“I believe the fellowship will also provide me plethora of opportunities in the International Development space, helping me forge strategic alliances with colleagues across Africa and the United States. It will also empower me with the requisite skills to work in a multicultural and global environment.”

Nurudeen appreciated 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, 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 organisation is dedicated to using the full strength of the law to help those in need find trust and solace 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.