African-American billionaire Robert Smith has offered to sponsor the education of Nigeria’s 21 Chibok girls who were released last October. According to Thisday, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Nigeria’s President, Garba Shehu, has revealed that Smith has offered to educate the girls who were freed by the Boko Haram terror group following negotiations brokered by the Red Cross.
Shehu revealed that Smith, who is presently sponsoring the education of another set of 24 girls from Chibok town who managed to escape from captivity in the days following their abduction in 2014, has again extended a scholarship offer to the recently freed 21 girls.
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“A Black American billionaire, Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram, at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 girls released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free,” Shehu said.
The American University of Nigeria is a privately owned institution that promises its students, world class, American-standard education. The relatively high fees of about $9,000 per session for tuition alone means that many Nigerians are unable to attend the school.
The Billionaire Philanthropist
The 54-year-old Smith is the Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity company he founded in 2000. The company has carved a niche for itself fixing up enterprise software outfits and today has a value of about $28 billion in assets. Forbes magazine puts Smith’s net worth at an estimated $2.5 billion.
Last year he ranked 268th on Forbes list of America’s wealthiest people and he is considered as one of the richest African-Americans of his generation, second only to media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Smith is also a renown philanthropist with a bias for educational and entrepreneurship development. Last year he donated $50 million to his alma mater, Cornell University’s School of Engineering.