2020 NHEF Scholars Program Now Open

Applications for the 2020 Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) Scholars Program are now open!

The NHEF Scholars Program provides talented Nigerian students with a broad range of opportunities from critical on-the-job training to hands-on-learning skills required in the employment process and in overall career development.

Each year, the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation identifies talented young Nigerians from our Partner Universities that have demonstrated excellence in both professional and extracurricular pursuits and provides them with the intensive career training needed to aid long-term career development.

NHEF Scholars possess a strong commitment to leadership, community service, philanthropy and making a lasting impact in their communities. Eligible applicants are penultimate students at our Partner Universities (i.e. 300-level students studying a 4-year course or 400-level students studying a 5-year course.)

NHEF Partner Universities are:

  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • Bayero University, Kano
  • Kwara State University
  • University of Ibadan
  • University of Lagos
  • University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • University of Port Harcourt

We advise eligible students to apply early as admissions are rolling and close on March 15, 2020 by 11:59 PM WAT.

Click here to apply!

5th Annual Scholarship Essay Competition

The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) is pleased to announce the 5th Annual Scholarship Essay Competition. We are challenging students to think critically and strategically about change and how they can effect change in Nigeria.

The 2019 Essay Topic theme is Human Capital Development.


To anchor the economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. People without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports, and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.

 – Bill Gates, Co-Founder & Technology Adviser, Microsoft Inc.

Using a case study or example, provide a solution(s) to address the challenges of human capital development in Nigeria.



  • All students at any NHEF Partner University are qualified to participate in the essay contest.
  • NHEF Partner Universities include Ahmadu Bello University, Bayero University (Kano), University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Nigeria (Nsukka), and University of Port Harcourt.
  • Class of 2019 NHEF Scholars are not eligible to participate in this competition.
  • Students enrolled in their penultimate year are third-year undergraduates of a 4-year degree program or fourth-year undergraduates of a 5-year degree program. NHEF will verify enrolment of each contestant with the University Registrar.


  • Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Essay Competition will be awarded a 100,000, Laptop with a year of paid tuition.
  • The First Runner-up will be awarded a cash prize of ₦75,000 plus tuition fee.
  • The Second Runner-up will be awarded ₦50,000 plus tuition fee.


All essays must comply with the following contest rules before submission:

  • Only one essay may be submitted per student;
  • No literary form other than an essay will be accepted;
  • The essay must reflect the contestant’s ability to explore and discuss ideas and ethical concepts;
  • The essay must demonstrate the conduct of research and a sufficiently detailed summary;
  • The essay must be 2000 words maximum, double-spaced, (12pt Times New Roman), and numbered pages with one-inch margins excluding bibliography & title page;
  • Submitted essay must include a Title Page, a Bibliography and a scanned copy of the contestant’s current student ID;
  • The essay title should be saved as 2019 NHEF Essay Competition – Name Of Applicant
  • The student’s name, university, and registration ID# must appear in the header section of each page;
  • References in the essay should be included and clearly identified;
  • Entries must be submitted in PDF format;
  • All entries must be submitted via e-mail to essay@thenhef.org by 11:59 p.m. (WAT) on December 2, 2019.

Students are encouraged to study rules on how to avoid plagiarism, as the essays will be checked for intellectual authenticity. **This link contains a helpful guide.


Scholarship and Award prizes will be permanently lost if the student: Does not attend an eligible NHEF Partner University; Winners will be announced via media channels (NHEF Facebook account, NHEF Instagram account, NHEF Twitter account, and NHEF Website); Winners will be contacted via communication method provided during application submission; The NHEF will make reasonable attempts to contact winners following announcements via media channels; Failure to claim prizes within 30 DAYS of announcement date, will automatically forfeit winnings; The student is found to have provided false or misleading information in claiming the award; The student fails to provide documentation to clarify an error or contradiction regarding his or her claim information that is discovered after the being selected; Unsatisfactory academic standing /Academic Probation will result in immediate forfeiture.
DISCLAIMER: Submitted essays will become the property of the NHEF. The NHEF may reprint the essays in its mediums and publications. Appropriate citations will be given to all the writers.
NOTE: Enrollment will be verified with the University’s registrar.
NHEF CodeBack Challenge Winner Announced

In an effort to create a continuous development community for the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) Scholars, the NHEF Code-Back Challenge was rolled out as a crowdsourcing initiative for and by NHEF Scholars to create their ideal NHEF App.

The challenge was opened to past and present Scholars as well as students from the six partner universities of the Foundation to ideate, code and develop the ideal NHEF app that will ensure continuous Scholar engagement across all cohorts. The Challenge which ran from September 2, 2019 – September 30, 2019, was well received by our student community with participation across universities and cohorts.

The submissions received were adjudged by C-level Professional Mobile App Developers in the Tech industry using the UI & UX (Technology and Design) features of the App submissions as core evaluation criteria. In addition, the creativity of the team, their grasp of the challenge scope and comprehensiveness of the submission (i.e. detailed documentation, presentation and idea pitch – typical hackathon style) were also used to select the winning team.

We are pleased to announce that Team Panther comprising of Rasheedat Abdulazeez (NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, Bayero University, Kano), Emmanuel Olu-Flourish (NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, University of Ibadan), Timothy Olaleke (NHEF Scholars Class of 2017, Bayero University, Kano) and Temilade Adelakun (NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, University of Ibadan) scored the highest points after the evaluation of the qualified submissions by our esteemed judges.

According to one of our esteemed judges,

“It is a thing of joy to see young students develop an amazing Mobile App for social good with ingenious creativity, little supervision and a complete understanding of project management as seen in the evaluated submissions”.

The judges also applauded the initiative and were elated that theory is being merged with solid practical.

The winning team will collaborate further with a professional mobile app developer to further develop the NHEF App while ensuring all necessary security and architecture compliance.

Without doubt, this initiative once again demonstrates that Nigerian youths possess the necessary skills and capabilities to impact the world in social, economic and political development. Congratulations to the winning team and indeed all participants!


Name: Rasheedat Abdulazeez

NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, Bayero University, Kano.

Role: Project Manager / System Analyst

Role Description: Supervision of project, making sure each member is up to head and in line with the project and ensuring that mobile app conforms with everything included in the outline of the IDEAL NHEF APPLICATION.



Name: Emmanuel Olu-Flourish

NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, University of Ibadan.

Role: Software Developer

Role Description: Responsible for the development of the mobile application, UI/UX design and implementation, consuming of Restful APIs for the app, testing and maintenance of application software.



Name: Timothy Olaleke

NHEF Scholars Class of 2017, Bayero University, Kano.

Role: Software Developer

Role Description: Responsible for the development of the admin dashboard, development of Restful APIs, hosting and deployment of backend and database system, writing of programs installation, testing and maintenance of application software.




Name: Temilade Adelakun

NHEF Scholars Class of 2018, University of Ibadan.

Role: Data Analyst

Role Description: Responsible for data collection, analysis and verification. Inserting of the collected and analyzed data into database via the admin dashboard.

2019 NHEF 15th Anniversary Benefit Gala

On Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) held its biennial Benefit Gala & Awards Ceremony at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The event honored remarkable individuals who have contributed to Nigeria’s prosperity both at home and abroad and commemorated the Foundation’s 15th Anniversary.

Gala Co-Chairs included His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria, Jide Zeitlin, Chairman and CEO of Tapestry, Inc, and Teresa Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Africa.com. Dr. Fayemi highlighted the significance of higher education in Nigeria and how the NHEF is paving the way for Nigerian youth by granting them opportunities to assume positions of leadership at prestigious institutions around the world. As sitting Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, Fayemi also indicated that the major focus of all stakeholders is to ensure that all Nigerians have access to quality education. He then implored the audience to actively support the Foundation’s programs.

The NHEF also honored three incredible individuals who affirmed the narrative of what it means to be Nigerian through their irrefutable impact on their respective fields.

Oscar N. Onyema, OON, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was granted the Jonathan F. Fanton Leadership in Business Award. In his acceptance speech, he commended the NHEF’s work and encouraged the audience to contribute to its programs because “no country has been lifted out of poverty without education.”

Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, Chairman of Aluko & Oyebode – Barristers & Solicitors, and Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Founder and CEO of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, were both honored with the Jonathan F. Fanton Leadership in Education Award. In their acceptance speech, Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode stated that their passion for education reflects the exceptional privilege they had in Nigerian public schools and their vision of seeing every child compete on the world stage while rising above negative economic circumstances. Mrs. Oyebode concluded her speech with, “an educated mind can think hard, resist much, express itself, can imagine, can self-determine; it can cope, seek opportunities and make the best of it all. Nothing can stop an educated mind!”

The Chairman of the NHEF, Mr. Wale Adeosun, and the Executive Director, Faridah Usman, both gave closing remarks where they appreciated all the event sponsors and thanked the attendees for their continuous support of the foundation.

The NHEF continues to make significant contributions to the advancement of higher education in Nigeria since its inception in 2004. The NHEF currently focuses on three distinct program areas (Scholars, Faculty and Administration) at each of its six partner universities, all to ensure a future in which Nigeria’s higher education ranks among the best in the world—one where Nigerian institutions develop global scholars and leaders of the 21st century that can make a lasting impact in Nigeria and throughout Africa.

Click here to view the event pictures.

The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) is a 501(c)(3) organization. To comply with the IRS requirements regarding charitable donations, we affirm that no goods or services have been provided to you, in whole or in part, in consideration for your contribution. This letter will serve as confirmation of your donation for income tax purposes. Our Tax ID number is 20-1507726.

Meet Our 2019 Honorees: Oscar N. Onyema

Oscar N. Onyema, OON

NHEF Leadership in Business Award


Oscar has been CEO and member of the National Council of The Nigerian Stock Exchange since April 2011. In this role, he is responsible for superintending the general working of The Exchange. He is Chairman of Central Securities Clearing System Plc (CSCS), the clearing, settlement and depository for the Nigerian capital market; and Chairman of NG Clearing, which is in the process of developing a CCP.

He is a member of several advisory boards including London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) Africa Advisory Group (LAAG) and Thomson Reuters Africa Advisory Network.

Prior to relocating to Nigeria, Mr. Onyema served as Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at American Stock Exchange (Amex). He also ran the NYSE Amex equity business after the merger of NYSE Euronext and Amex in 2008.

Oscar completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program (AMP) in 2015. He got his MBA from Baruch College, New York in 1998; and BSc degree from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 1991.


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Meet Our 2019 Honorees: Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode

Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode

Jonathan F. Fanton Leadership in Education Award


Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode is a development specialist, international NGO expert and human rights activist specializing in women and girls’ initiatives. Aisha founded and serves as CEO of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), a non-governmental organization that promotes good governance and is dedicated to engendering socio-economic change on the African continent. On the Foundation’s platform are stakeholder driven interventions and advocacy activities that have impacted education and capacity building, with a focus on the girl child, women empowerment, disaster risk reduction and management. The MMF is one of the organizations driving the reconstruction of the northeast of Nigeria devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency and is in the fore of advising the Government on the policy of humanitarian response.

Aisha is a co-founder of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) activist group formed in the aftermath of the abduction of over 200 girls from their school premises in the Chibok village of Borno State, Nigeria. She is a member of the Northern Nigeria Governor’s Committee on Boko Haram. Aisha is a member of the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School – Women and Public Policy Program, and an Advisor and Country Expert to the University of Pennsylvania Law Global Women’s Leadership Project. She is an advisor to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), as a Member of its Senior Working Group on Northern Nigeria.

Aisha is also the Group CEO of Asset Management Group Limited (AMG), a company founded in 1991, specializing in real estate development and management, a non-Executive Director of Lekoil Limited, an AIM listed Company of the London Stock Exchange, with a focus on oil and gas exploration in the African region. She is also Director of Cambridge Growth Partners, an African focused investment company, co-owner of Bo-Concept Nigeria, Pandora Nigeria, and several International retail brands. Aisha has an LLM in Public International Law from King’s College, University of London and an MBA in Finance from Imperial College, University of London and is currently a PHD researcher in Law with a focus on gender in conflict at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.


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Meet Our 2019 Honorees: Gbenga Oyebode

Gbenga Oyebode, MFR

Jonathan F. Fanton Leadership in Education Award


Gbenga Oyebode is the Chairman of Aluko & Oyebode, (Barristers & Solicitors) one of the largest integrated law firms in Nigeria, with offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt.

Gbenga was an Associate with White & Case, New York between 1982 and 1983.

Gbenga was educated at the University of Ife (LL.B Honours), and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (LL.M) graduating in 1979 and 1982, respectively. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (admitted June 1980) and an attorney-at-law of the Supreme Court of New York State (admitted November 1983). He was conferred Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), by the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti (2016) and Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State, Nigeria (2017). He is the Chancellor of Elizade University, Ilara Mokin, Ondo State, Nigeria.

Gbenga is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) (FCIArb) and the Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI). He is also a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the International Bar Association (IBA). Gbenga is the past Chairman of the Section of Business Law of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Gbenga was conferred with one of Nigeria’s highest honours, the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) in the year 2000. He was also conferred with the Belgian Royal Honour of ‘Knight of the Order of Leopold’ in 2007. He was conferred with an award for Lifetime Contribution to Law at the Law Digest Africa Awards 2015.

He was Chairman, Access Bank Plc (2005-2015) and the Chairman of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc (both listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange NSE) and serves on the Boards of Nestle Nigeria Plc and Socfinaf S.A (listed on the Luxemburg Stock Exchange). He is the Chairman of CFAO Nigeria Plc.

Gbenga sits on the Africa Advisory Committee of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), is the Chairman of Teach for Nigeria, Director Teach for All, New York, Member of the Global Advisory Council of the Africa Leadership Academy, Johannesburg, Director Jazz at the Lincoln Centre, New York and Director African Philanthropy Forum. Member Board of Trustees Carnegie Hall, New York, and Member Board of Trustees Ford Foundation, New York and Director International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA), London.

Gbenga was the cover story of the Forbes Africa magazine July 2018 publication headlined: “Lawyer – Investor. Gbenga Oyebode, the new face of business in Africa.”


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2019 Nigeria Higher Education Forum

It is our pleasure to invite you to the 2019 Nigeria Higher Education Forum!

The forum will focus on “Building the Capacity in Nigeria through the Career Development of Young Faculty”. In collaboration with CAReH Africa, the forum will bring thought-leaders from various disciplines across the US and Vice Chancellors of NHEF-affiliated universities together to engage in an in-depth discussion on the role of academics in Africa, and their responsibility in strengthening and sustaining African economies.

This year’s forum, we will take a deeper dive into developing action-oriented next steps to build the capacity of early career academics within STEM fields in Nigeria, its subsequent positive impact on the Nigerian economy, and improvement of the African landscape.

We are delighted to host distinguished panelists and speakers with insights on opportunities to increase the potential of junior academics in Africa. Through our forum we aim to catalyze the understanding and development of academia in Africa and its impact in improving African economies. We look forward to your attendance and the opportunity to collectively enhance the capacity of junior academics in STEM fields in Nigeria.




The Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) code-back challenge is a crowd sourcing initiative for and by NHEF Scholars to create their ideal NHEF App.

The NHEF seeks to create a continuous development community to stay engaged with its Scholars across all cohorts. We believe that no one knows our impact better than our Scholars themselves. Hence, we are challenging them to develop their ideal NHEF Mobile App.

The winning team will be awarded a cash prize of N250,000 with the opportunity to collaborate and develop the Application further with a professional Mobile Application Developer.


  • The challenge is open to NHEF Scholars Program Alumni and the Class of 2019
  • To compete, teams must consist of 2-4 members and may include individuals across all NHEF partner universities and program cohorts.
  • Teams can be formed across any of our partner universities
  • Both APK and Source Code of the submitted App should be uploaded on GitHub
  • Source code of the App should be written by the team and not copied from available resources online; therefore, we recommend that each team have one scholar with substantial coding experience.
  • The mobile App should have Cross-Platform functionality
  • Proposals should be submitted to programs@thenhef.org on or before the deadline along with a profile of team members.


Qualified entries will be evaluated based on App features (Technology) and User Experience / User Interface (Design).

The App should have but not be limited to the following features:

  • Community for Scholars and Mentors
  • Events Calendar
  • Program Resource Library
  • Surveys and Testimonials
  • Job and Internship Postings
  • Other Opportunities

Terms & Conditions:

Submissions open on September 2, 2019 and close on September 30, 2019. The winning team will be contacted via email and announced on our social media.

By entering a Submission and consenting to the terms, the Participants agree that the NHEF reserves an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, distribute to the public, and publicly display Submission starting on the date of the announcement of contest winners.

Click here to download application form.



2019 NHEF Benefit Gala & Awards Ceremony


The NHEF Gala commemorates the efforts of trailblazing Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, who have contributed to the country’s prosperity both at home and abroad. We believe that in recognizing these outstanding achievements we are reshaping Nigeria’s image on the global stage and changing the narrative on what it means to be Nigerian. Through this, we hope to inspire and motivate the next generation of Nigerian leaders.