Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth. Each year, Commonwealth Day focuses on a particular theme and for 2021 this coincided with the set theme for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to be held in Rwanda. The Commonwealth Day theme selected for 2021 was ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating and Transforming’.

The Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows Alumni Association Nigeria (COSFAN) commemorated Commonwealth Day 2021 in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education with two events held on 8 and 9 March. The events were attended by various eminent personalities, including the Honourable Ministers of Federal Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs, High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries to Nigeria, and Commonwealth Alumni.

As part of their activities to mark Commonwealth Day 2021, COSFAN delivered a lecture on this year’s theme and a community engagement and school outreach activity which sought to provide health education interventions, mentoring, and other support activities for community members living in Dobi, in the Gwagwalada area of Abuja.

Achieving shared goals through collaboration and innovation

On the 8 March, COSFAN’s President, Dr Abiola Adimula (2010 Commonwealth Professional Fellow, Public Health, The Haven Wolverhampton) delivered a lecture on ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating and Transforming’, and discussed the significance of this year’s Commonwealth Day theme by reminding people of the importance of unity across Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth nations alike in order to achieve shared global goals. Dr Adimula oberserved that:

‘Every day has loads of beauty in it. One of such is the commemoration of the 2021 Commonwealth Day. This is a day set apart for the re-echoing of the great values and heritage shared within the Commonwealth states. It is a day that reminds us of our common history and projecting to us the good that lies ahead.’

Dr Adimula also called upon the federal government to make the funding of educational programmes and projects a priority to ensure that the public could actively contribute toward transforming the education sector for a better future for the next generation.

Education for all: supporting community development in Dobi

The following day, on 9 March, COSFAN held an event to celebrate the end of its Community Development project, led by Commonwealth Alumni Professor Feyi Adepoju (2007 Shared Scholar, MSc Community Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Dr Cyril Akagwu (2013 Scholar, MSc Aviation Medicine, King’s College London). The project aimed to provide health education interventions, mentoring, and other support activities for adolescent and vulnerable community members living in Dobi, in the Gwagwalada area of Abuja, in conjunction with COSFAN’s governmental and development partners.

The event was well attended with participants including the Honourable Ministers of State for Education and Health, traditional rulers within and around Dobi, political figures and opinion leaders, Federal Cap[tial Territory (FCT) Secretariat for Education, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital staff, COSFAN members from within and outside Abuja, NGO representatives, and staff and over 500 students of Dobi Government Secondary School (GSS).

The keynote address was delivered by a representative on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Education and this was followed by a series of recitals from the Commonwealth Club of Dobi GSS, which considered the 2021 Commonwealth Day theme, alongside several traditional displays. The responses of attendees to this section of the programme were overwhelmingly positive and many attendees expressed their admiration for the performances and displays.

A number of speakers, including eminent political figures in Gwagwalada Area Council, Dobi ward, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, the FCT Board for Secondary Education, and NGO representatives also spoke about the objectives of the event, centred around community development, and expressed their agreement with the theme of the project.

The event closed with some final remarks and thanks from the Chairman of the FCT Board for Secondary Education, which were delivered by the Principal of Dobi GSS. There was also agreement amongst all relevant parties assembled at the event of their commitment to ensuring to the health and wellbeing of adolescents in Dobi and the surrounding areas.