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I got a heartbreaking note yesterday, from a lady I have never met, who was a beneficiary of the 2011 round of scholarships.

I knew Godwin a long time ago. He was a brilliant and fearless journalist, and active pro-democracy voice during the darkest days of military dictatorship. Tragically he died in 2006, shot by unknown gunmen on his way home from the office.

Back then, all I could do was to help his family in the best way I could, by including his daughter in that year’s scholarship list for her postgraduate studies in Scotland. Back then I was mostly focused on helping young Nigerians go to study abroad, because we were all on the edge of exile anyway, and we thought it was best to send young people out to go see how freedom and democracy works, so they could come home and help make the country better.

I can vaguely remember one of my close staff and friend talking about Godwin’s other daughter applying for a scholarship in 2011, but because the scholarships were awarded on merit, all I remember was asking “Is she qualified”. I didn’t know she had been awarded the scholarship by the office. Not until yesterday.

My son sent me this note written by Godwin’s daughter, Ruona, and I was really touched by it. For very many reasons I cannot put down in words. I have given thousands of scholarships over the years, and read many “Thank You” notes, but this one stands out – not only because it thoroughly embarrassed me as Ruona intended, but because she has in her own decided to pay that gratitude into the lives of others by offering free journalism training.

Yes Ruona, I got to read your piece, and I’m truly touched. I also visited your twitter timeline, and saw someone’s testimony as being one of the beneficiaries of your training.

So I would tell you now that you owe me nothing. Instead I should say thank you. Thank you for being a great example to your generation, by offering voluntary service without compulsion. By investing in the lives of other people, you have laid a foundation for greatness in the future.

I wish you well in all you do, and pray that the sacrifice of your father and many other heroes never be in vain.

Yours,

Atiku

PS: Ruona’s note can be read here

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