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Nigerian VCs meet Chinese ambassador in preparation for World University Games in China


The Nigeria University Games (NUGA) executive body on Friday was hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Cui Jianchun in Abuja.

The visit was led by the leadership of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) to the chief envoy to solicit the support of the embassy and the Chinese government to enable the Nigerian team to be part of the global event.

It would be hosted in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in South West China in July.

The team led by Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) also used the occasion to table requests for inter-university exchanges and partnerships between Nigerian universities and counterparts in China.

Ochefu while addressing the ambassador urged him to use his good offices to help the CVCNU to work out modalities for education, cultural and other relevant exchanges with the  Chinese university system, especially with its advancement in tech-based education which he argued would be of much assistance to the growth of the Nigerian university system the vice-chancellors supervise.

The university don who heads the CVCNU asked Ambassador Cui to assist create the possibility for exchanges that would enable Nigerian universities to tap into the benefits of the growth and advancement of agriculture, ICT, sports, medicine, communication, etc, in Chinese university education.

He challenged the chief diplomat that his group is ready for such a positive move as soon as possible and would want results that will enhance the better relationships between the two worlds. He also vouched for the readiness of Nigerian universities to lay the right foundation that would facilitate a fruitful relationship between the two systems.

In his opening remarks to introduce the CVCNU to the ambassador, Nigerian journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Africa China Economy Magazine, Ikenna Emewu who took the university CEOs to the embassy urged Ambassador Cui to, as usual, do his best to link up the Nigerian university system with China.

Emewu who is also an alumnus of two Chinese universities recalled to the ambassador that he was sure it is the Chinese university system that championed, incubated, and facilitated the manpower growth of China in every facet to where it is today at the top of global acclaim.

Ambassador Cui with the Vice Chancellors

He urged that such a good relationship will assist in so many positive ways to deepen and better the cordial 52 years of diplomatic ties between Nigeria and China.

He also reminded him that in the agenda of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), education is a key component that has received adequate attention with so many visible results.

Emewu, an expert in Africa-China relations and the Chinese economy, reminded the ambassador how Nigeria and Africa value the quality of education in Chinese universities, the reason the pool of African scholars in their universities has grown by 285 percent in the past 12 years and quickly placed China as hosting the second largest pool of African students.

Presently, China has about 78,011 African students in its universities, second only to France whose rate of intake has been shrinking by 2 percent in 12 years also, and also ahead of the US where the African students’ growth rate has been 30 percent within the period.

He noted that it is the faith in the quality of Chinese universities that made Nigerian scholars in China be about 10 percent of the pool of African students.

In his response to the requests and mission of the university leaders, Ambassador Cui expressed his appreciation to them for considering Chinese universities as worthy partners.

He assured them that the embassy will willingly create the possibilities for such partnerships and very likely initiate moves in Nigeria where a possible forum would be hosted in conjunction with the embassy to create a platform for the two university systems to meet once in a while.

He told the VCs that their requests were so important for the growth of Nigeria and the diplomatic accord between the two countries. He stated that there would never be any meaningful growth or development in Nigeria until the education system is put at its competitive best on the global scale.

Cui noted that the requests of the vice-chancellors were in conformity with the original agenda he has pursued in the past two years he has been in Nigeria.

The visit was also necessitated by the upcoming World University Games (WUG) this year that would be hosted in China, and Nigerian universities plan to send a contingent of 100 athletes to participate.

However, with less than 150 days until the start of the WUG to be hosted in Chengdu China, Nigeria is preparing to send its best athletes to the competition.

A statement from Chidiebere Ezeani, Acting Secretary General of Nigeria University Games (NUGA) who was also part of the team that visited the Chinese ambassador, noted that “this is indeed a great opportunity for Nigerian students to show their talents on a global stage and bring glory to the country.”

The WUG, also known as the Universiade, is a multi-sport event that takes place every two years, bringing together student-athletes from around the world to compete for honours in a variety of sporting events.

The 2023 edition of the event is expected to attract over 10,000 participants from more than 170 countries.

Nigeria has a proud sporting heritage and has produced world-class athletes in various disciplines such as football, athletics, basketball, and table tennis, among others.

Cui with more of the delegates

With 150 days until the start of the WUG, the Nigerian University Games Association, and university leaders are working to select the best athletes to represent Nigeria.

To achieve this, rigorous training programs and trials will be conducted to identify potential athletes who will fly Nigeria’s flag and win medals.

Nigeria is expected to compete for honours in seven events, including track and field, swimming, badminton, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, and lawn tennis.

The selection process is highly competitive, with only the best athletes expected to make the cut. Those who will eventually make it will be given the opportunity to compete against the best student-athletes from around the world.

The hope is that Nigeria will not only participate but will also excel at the 2023 WUG, bringing pride and joy to the nation. Ezeani is “therefore appealing to the government, sports authorities, corporate bodies, and well-meaning individuals to support our teams, as they represent Nigeria with honor, dignity, and sportsmanship”

NUGA has regularly produced world-class athletes from Nigerian universities including Clement Chukwu (Athletics), Olumide Oyedeji (Basketball), Santos Ahkilele (Taekwondo), etc.

The 2022/23 WUG will take place from July 27 to August 8.

The team that visited the embassy included Mr. Onor K. Akpe, CEO of Red Sapphire Limited, consultants to the CVCNU, vice chancellors of universities such as Profs Tanko Ishaya (University of Jos), Olayemi Akinwunmi (Federal University, Lokoja), Nicholas Etubu (Bayelsa Medical University, Yenagoa), Georgewill Owunari (University of Port Harcourt), Isaac Itodo (Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi)

Others were Mr. Stanley Nkwazema, Red Sapphire’s marketing consultant, Ms. Chidiebere Ezeani, Nigerian University Games acting secretary, and Ms. Karen Daor, Communications Officer, CVCNU


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