Jibikeoluwa Faborode

Chevening Programme Officer

Guest blogger for UK in Nigeria

Part of Chevening Conversations Digital Diplomacy FCDO Outreach UK in Nigeria

7th September 2017 Abuja, Nigeria

Chevening in Nigeria – A Programme Officer’s Perspective

I took up the Chevening portfolio in September 2015, a decision I have never regretted making. My passion for Chevening is so intense; I’m often asked if I’m an alumnus. Saddled with the task of administering and promoting this programme year-round in Nigeria, I find myself selling an opportunity that I know is absolutely priceless but off limits for me (ethical reasons). However, I derive great satisfaction from co-ordinating application reviews and interviews – though stressful, with a great need for planning, organisation and attention to details; it is indeed a greatly inspiring and interesting process. Interviews are by far my best part of this portfolio, providing an opportunity to listen and learn from exceptional young Nigerians spanning various fields, which inspires me to continuously challenge myself and discover new possibilities.

I recently got a chance to meet with the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP; during his recent visit to Nigeria – and the most memorable thing was how much he gushed about Chevening and its impact. The fact that a senior minister in London recognises the work I and colleagues collectively do to push Chevening in Nigeria is enough motivation to continue to strive for excellence in the advocacy for quality education and global citizenship, through Chevening.

During a joint visit in Abuja with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

High application numbers have not really been a problem for Nigeria; in fact, since 2015, Nigeria has consecutively recorded the highest number of applications globally – from 3,665 to 6,000 eligible applications for 2017/18. Instead, the focus is on the quality of applications – majority of which I must confess, hasn’t been too great. Nigerians are highly intelligent, very creative and innovative and a high number meet the eligibility requirements; however, for a global competition, writing and presentation skills have been fairly poor. A number of deserving candidates have missed the Chevening opportunity solely because of poorly written applications others were unable to make it past the interview stage due to poor communication skills. Perhaps this is as a result of limited exposure to soft skills, such as writing and effective communications skills, required to excel in the application and interviewing process. But, one thing is certain, there is a strong need to educate young Nigerians on essay writing, compelling story-telling and answering competency-based questions at interviews. In the last two years, I have focused more on hosting workshops for target groups to address these areas of need. Results have been quite positive and I intend to take it a step further this year by collaborating with relevant organisations and influencers; using a combination live workshops, traditional and social media channels to spread the word on Chevening.

Every year, I organise pre-departure briefings and award presentations for new scholars in Lagos and Abuja. These events are always quite memorable and this year’s was not an exception. Symbolising the beginning and end of Chevening cycles; they are an opportunity for staff and alumni to merry with successful scholars, who once sat nervously on the opposite side of our interview tables. Personally, I often feel like these new scholars are my babies – as I regularly receive daily enquiries from anxiety-filled adults, ranging from visa to travel concerns. The numerous calls and long emails can be quite draining, but like a mama-bear at the 2017 pre-departure events; I felt very fulfilled seeing the happy faces of 2017-18 scholars, expectant and filled with excitement about new life-changing experiences in the UK. Who wouldn’t be? Out of 6000 Nigerians who started the race in 2016, these 43 exceptional individuals made it to the finish line and are finally about to live their dreams of a UK graduate study and a truly global experience.

Chevening pre-departure reception

After such an intense phase of sifting and reviewing applications, co-ordinating interviews and preparing new scholars for the UK, I wish there would be a one-month cool-off period to catch my breath. Unfortunately, they say rest is for the weak! – Promotions for the 2018/19 application cycle start even before the new scholars depart Nigeria. This year, I’m working to promote Chevening as an inclusive and fair competition for rising young Nigerian leaders – with an aim to increase the number of awards to women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and other disadvantaged groups. For effective life-long engagement with alumni, I’m also keen to align majority of Chevening awards with the priority areas of Chevening in Nigeria (Security, Prosperity, Good Governance, Science & Innovation and Energy/Power Generation).

Are you yearning for world-class education, global citizenship values, and passionate about leading developmental change in Nigeria? Do you know someone deserving of the Chevening opportunity? Please visit and share – www.chevening.org/nigeria

15 comments on “Chevening in Nigeria – A Programme Officer’s Perspective

  1. What a remarkable piece Jibike! Indeed your passion to promote Chevening in Nigeria is incontestable, welldone for the good work you do. You forgot to mention how you also help new alunmi gain back traction, settling into the system when they return, as most of us discovered how difficult that can be. As a testament to that effort, I look forward to working with you alongside Laure to achieve the next phase of training intending applicants, especially women, to attain the scholarship, as well as helping new alums settle back in.


  2. Please I need help. I’m Cynthia, a 20year old graduate of a notable university in Nigeria. I will be done with my national youth service by next year April. I started my chevening application but I couldn’t complete it before the deadline. Am I eligible? Can you help with next year’s apllication?

  3. A lot of inspiration! Thanks a lot for this great piece. I’m currently applying and very optimistic about the outcome because I’m giving in my best.

  4. Very well written Jibike. Indeed your relationship with awardees since you took over the Chevening brief bears strong semblance to that storng ‘mother -child’ bond as your rightly summed up above. Well done for your hardwork ramping up Chevening visibility in Nigeria. And hey; who wouldn’t be thrilled by your crisp writing skills?

  5. That’s a very Useful write up
    Am 2018/2019 Applicant, please I need someone to help proof read my essay and give me corrections. I can’t wait to be the next Chevening Scholar

    God bless you

  6. I read through your article/report- not sure the right terminology to apply here. To be honest, I am quite impressed and inspired by your commitment to the job, your excellent writing skills, good presentation skills and your desire to raise the level of chevening awareness in Nigeria.

    In one of your presentations, I remembered asking about the eligibility of polytechnic graduates. It does appear from your response that these group of candidates are not considered graduates from chevening eligibity requirements but that such candidates need to complete additional post graduate diploma or certificate to be considered.

    Now, if such candidates secure admission into a UK university can they be considered?

    Is there any thing you can do to raise this issue with the governing authority of chevening to address this concern? Moreso, that these candidates are considered graduates with the same level as Nigerian University students.

    That being said…Weldone!!

  7. Jibike,

    The support you provide to scholars is invaluable. Your patience and calm demeanor is also worth coveting.
    This blog is on point!I’ll also add that it is quite timely because you have stated the key reasons for poor performance of Nigerian applicants at a time the information is most needed. Hopefully,Nigerian applicants will take advantage of this additional information to turn in better essays.

    In my opinion, you’re doing an excellent job with scholars in Nigeria. Keep up the good job!!

    1. Thanks Tolulope, i appreciate. Congratulations again on your award and please do share within your networks.

  8. What a great article, thanks Jibike. Your passion for Chevening is evident – and the impact you have had on the programme is great. I’ve found myself equally enthused about Chevening since I joined the Nigeria team – so much so, as you know, that I get quite emotional whenever I speak at Chevening receptions as there is so much talent, joy, passion, hope and excitement in the air. Chevening is a great programme indeed for our soft power – so many of the talented Nigerians I meet across the country tell me with huge pride that they are alumni. But we can still do better. In a country that is so patriarchal, we should aim to have 50% of scholars be women. We should aim to do better on diversity in general and disability in particular. We can be creative to make this happen. And that is the next boundary for Chevening. I think Nigeria would be a great place to innovate on this and I look forward to working with you on this.

    1. Wow, thanks for the kind words Laure. I’m eager to work with you on this mandate to make Chevening for inclusive; starting with the push for more female scholars from Nigeria (50% is a great benchmark).

      1. Great ideas and thoughtful mindset. But as budding leader, I’d rather prefer reorientation of ladies to allow for more participation instead of installing a paradigm of equality. I think merits bring out the best not equality.

  9. I just returned from the ACU summer school in the UK. We had some Chevening Scholars share their experience with us and it was mind blowing. Thanks for your thought with us Jibike. I wish all prospective scholars the very best of luck in their application.

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