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Kole Shettima: Why MacArthur Foundation has supported Nigerians for over 25 years

Kole Shettima: Why MacArthur Foundation has supported Nigerians for over 25 years
September 13
00:29 2021

Kole Shettima, Africa director of the MacArthur Foundation, says Nigeria has a significant role to play in the overall development of the continent.


Speaking in an interview with PremiumTimes, published on Sunday, Shettima said Nigeria is important to the foundation due to its economy, population size and role in Africa.

He said despite the challenges experienced in over 25 years of being in Nigeria, the foundation chose to “stand by” the country due to its passion for the citizens.

“The foundation has a historical relationship with Nigeria. When we opened an office in Nigeria in 1994, the most important consideration was its potential strategic role in the world: the people, population size, role in the region, youthful population, level of education and its economy,” he said.


“I believe these considerations are still important in 2021. Of course, there have been ups and downs since 1994, but the foundation is not naïve to believe that everything will be hunky-dory. For example, during the military rule of Sani Abacha, many development partners closed shop. But the foundation remained in Nigeria.

“Our commitment and passion was and is to the Nigerian people. We were witnesses to history and stood by the Nigerian people. Your best friend stands with you when you are most vulnerable and weak.”

Shettima added that the foundation has faced a few challenges in Nigeria, but said they are not considered major unless contextualised.


The director said since 1986, the foundation has invested over $300 million in Nigeria.

“We categorise our support into two: organisations and individuals based in Nigeria, and organisations and individuals that are not based in Nigeria, but have activities in Nigeria,” he said.

“Between 1986 and 2021, in the first category, we have supported 713 individuals and organisations to the amount of $216.7 million and in the second category, we have supported 233 individuals and organisations to the amount of $123.4 million.”

The director also said Nigerians, and the strategic importance of the country in the continent and the world, provide motivation for the investments in the country.


“I may have an exaggerated view of Nigeria, but I think the fate of the black race is tied to Nigeria and vice versa. We also consider the growth, vitality and diversity of civil society groups,” he said.

“The relative independence and strength of the media are important factors. Encouraging Nigeria and Nigerians on the path of democracy has a salutary impact on the region. We are all witnesses to the recent positive role of Nigeria in the Gambia, for example.”

MacArthur Foundation had, in 2014, launched the On Nigeria grantmaking, which seeks to reduce corruption by supporting Nigerian-led efforts that strengthen accountability, transparency, and civic participation.

Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF), a not-for-profit and partner organisation of TheCable, Nigeria’s independent online newspaper, has also benefitted from MacArthur Foundation grants for Nigeria.


In October 2019, CNJF was named as one of the beneficiaries of the MacArthur Foundation’s $6.3 million in journalism and media grants for Nigeria.


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