Nigeria’s government has approved the opening of a new Seventh-day Adventist university named after Jesse Clifford, the first missionary to bring the Advent message to the lower part of the Niger in 1923.
Clifford University, which will be the second Adventist university in Nigeria, was granted a license along with seven other universities during a Nov. 2 meeting of the government’s Federal Executive Council in the capital, Abuja, Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper reported.
“As Adventist pioneer J. N. Andrews wrote on Sept. 15, 1874: ‘And now, as we set forth, we commit ourselves to the merciful protection of God'"
“I write to you with joy in my heart,” Uzoma Nwosi, communication director for the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference, told the Adventist Review in an e-mail announcing the government’s decision.
Clifford University, located in the town of Ihie in eastern Nigeria, will be established on land that belonged to an Adventist school until it was seized by the government following the country’s 1967-70 civil war. The government returned the land to the church in 2013.
"God moved in our favor through the influence of some people in 2013, when The Abia State Government under the governorship of Theodore A. Orji returned the school and all the land to the Adventist Church,” Nwosi said.
It took the federal government three years to approve the university.
The other Adventist-owned university in Nigeria is Babcock University, which was founded in 1959 and is situated between the cities of Ibadan and Lagos.
The man after whom the new university is named is a British missionary who brought Adventism to eastern Nigeria in 1923, according to an online biography. Clifford, who had worked in Ghana from 1919 to 1923, served in Nigeria for eight years and was ordained to the gospel ministry there before returning to Ghana in 1931 to head the Ghana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.
“In matters of Christian spirituality, Jesse Clifford is said to be without equal among missionaries in Ghana Adventist history,” Kofi Owusu-Mensa, professor of history at Valley View University in Ghana, wrote in the biography. “He did not distinguish himself in areas like education and plans for the church, but he left a legacy of commitment to the church as well as a high focus on eschatology and the second coming of Christ.”
Nwosi called for prayers for the new university at a time when the African country is struggling with economic recession and a devaluation of the Naira currency.
“While we rejoice, we need more prayers,” Nwosi said. “As Adventist pioneer J. N. Andrews wrote on Sept. 15, 1874: ‘And now, as we set forth, we commit ourselves to the merciful protection of God, and we especially ask the prayers of the people of God that his blessing may attend us in this sacred work.’”
He added: “We also need massive support from individuals, organizations, and others to get the school started under God and in line with the Adventist philosophy of education.”