Remarks by U.S. Embassy Country Public Affairs Officer Aruna Amirthanayagam – Book Donation in Honor of John Paul Usman

CPAO Aruna Amirthanayagam speaking at the book donation event

University of Ilorin
May 16, 2017

John Paul Usman was a 2016 Mandela Washington fellow and final year student Information and Communication Science at University of Ilorin. (Note: he was studying Information and Communication Science) Unfortunately, he died during his fellowship at Virginia Tech University while on a site visit to Cascade Falls on June 25, 2016; he slipped as he was taking a picture by the waterfall and was drowned by the undertow.

John Paul was a promising young Nigerian, he served as a Child Parliamentarian, and member of the Child Rights Implementation Committee in his home State, Kogi State. He was also a UNESCO prize winner, and President of the Federation of UNESCO Clubs in Nigeria in 2009, a position he held till his death. John Paul was also a model student in the university and his final examination was accelerated to enable him participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

To honor his memory, the Embassy is here to donate books worth $2,000 to the University library, and has already announced an award worth $20,000 on the YALI Network. This award will be issued as small grants for young Nigerians working in areas John Paul Usman supported – peace building, children’s rights issues, and sustainable development goals. We working with the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association to review about 300 applications and would be announcing the winners of his award very soon.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, represented here by his father; words cannot express how sorry we are for your loss. It is our hope that you will find solace in the continuation of his work.

I also commiserate with the university and nation at large on the loss of such a promising young man. Please accept this token donation in honor of John Paul.