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The Trustees

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Sir Mervyn Brown KCMG, OBE

Sir Mervyn was High Commissioner in Nigeria for four and a half years (1979-1983), longer than any other British High Commissioner. After diplomatic postings in Buenos Aires, New York, Singapore and Laos, he spent his remaining career dealing with Africa, with two spells in African departments in the Foreign Office followed by appointments as Ambassador in Madagascar, High Commissioner in Tanzania and a short spell as Deputy Ambassador to the UN in New York, before his final posting to Lagos. Sir Mervyn was a teacher before he joined the Foreign Office. He maintained an interest in education and was a Trustee of St. Saviour’s School in Lagos. After retirement he became a Vice-President of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council and consultant to the Council of British Independent Schools in the European Community. His involvement in Nigeria continued with membership of the Executive Committee of the Britain-Nigeria Association. He later served for four years as President of the Association.

Vice Patrons

Mr. Derek R. Reeves MBE

Derek ReevesDerek worked for more than 30 years for UAC both in West Africa and the UK. Throughout this time he either lived in or regularly visited Nigeria. He was a director of both the UK and the Nigeria companies. After retiring in 1989 Derek did a variety of voluntary consultancy jobs in places such as Malaysia, Mauritius and Jordan. Living in Farnham he quickly became involved in the local Abbeyfield Society, which was gradually developed into providing accommodation, care and nursing for 80 elderly people. He retired from being chairman of that Society at the end of 2006.

Derek has served as Deputy Chairman of the West Africa Committee, Chairman and then President of the Britain-Nigeria Association. He was Chairman of the Trustees of The Alhaji Sir Abubakar Memorial Trust for the last thirteen years and was instrumental in the formation of the Britain-Nigeria Educational Trust.
Derek has been awarded the MBE for his charitable services through the ATB Memorial Trust and to the community in Farnham, Surrey. Derek retired as Chairman of the Trust in 2014 after 40 years of exemplary service in recognition of which he was appointed Vice Patron on the 23rd July 2015.

Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, OFR, CFR, MBBS, MRCP, FNMCP, FWACP

TafidaDr Tafida was born in Zaria, Kaduna State where he received his education gaining Higher School Certificate at the Government College, Keffi. He embarked on his medical education at the University of Lagos where he obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and then continued his postgraduate studies at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon-Tyne and at the University of Liverpool where he obtained a Diploma in Public Health.

He held a number of medical appointments including Senior House Officer, Ahmadu Bello University, Clinical Assistant in Medicine at the Royal Infirmary, Senior Registrar in Medicine at Katsina Specialist Hospital before his appointment as Consultant Physician, Ministry of Health, Kaduna State. From 1980-1983 Dr Tafida became Chief Physician to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and from 1984 served variously as Commissioner of Health, Agriculture and Education in Kaduna State. Between 1993 – 1995 he was Federal Minister of Health.

In politics Dr Tafida represented Kaduna North in the Senate from 2003-2007 where he was also the Senate Majority Leader during this period.

Dr Tafida arrived in the United Kingdom as Nigeria High Commissioner on April 12, 2008 and presented his Letters Credence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 30,2008. During his seven year tenure of office to the Court of St James’s the Nigeria High Commission benefited from his unique transformational leadership as did his management of Nigeria-UK relations.

Dr Tafida received the national honour of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), in 2012 he received another national honour namely Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) and, in 1995, he was conferred the traditional title of Tafidan Zazzau.

On 10 August 2015 Dr Tafida, an honorary member of the Britain-Nigeria Educational Trust, was appointed a Vice Patron.

The Board of Trustees

The Trust is controlled by a Board of skilled and experienced Trustees who, between them, provide a wealth of knowledge and understanding on most matters Nigerian, derived through many years of close involvement with companies and organisations whose activities serve Nigeria. They ensure the Trust is correctly administered and managed in accordance with the rules and regulations of its governing Constitution.
Current Board members are:

Chairman - Mr. David KO Brandler

David BrandlerDavid was born in Nigeria in 1955 and has worked in the family business, which owns a tannery in Kano producing and exporting shoe leather, for the past twenty years. Son of Joe Brandler who himself spent 50 years in Nigeria based in Lagos and published a book about his experiences Out of Nigeria – Witness to a Giant’s Toils. Formerly Chairman of The Britain-Nigeria Association he travels regularly to Nigeria spending some 4 months every year there.

David was a Trustee of the  Alhaji Sir Abubakar Memorial Trust from November 2000 and was appointed Chairman of BNET on 4th November 2014.

Vice Chairman - Professor Graham Furniss, BA PhD FBA OBE

Graham FurnissProfessor Graham Furniss is the former Pro-Director for Research and Enterprise at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His research has been focused on popular culture and oral and written literature in Hausa, a major lingua franca of West Africa. He has worked at, and with colleagues from, a number of Nigerian universities. He is Deputy Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission and he chairs the British Academy Africa Panel, he is a former President of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK), the founding President of the International Society for Oral Literature in Africa (ISOLA), and founding editor of the Journal of African Cultural Studies. His publications include Poetry, Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa (EUP), Orality: the Power of the Spoken Word (Palgrave Macmillan) and, with Richard Fardon (co-ed.), African Broadcast Cultures: Radio in Transition (James Currey) and African Languages, Development and the State (Routledge). He is a Fellow of the British Academy and chaired the steering committee that produced The Nairobi Report (British Academy/Association of Commonwealth Universities). Professor Furniss was awarded the OBE for services to higher education and scholarship in the Queen's Birthday Honours list as published June 2013 and has been a Trustee since 2009

Secretary - Ms Elizabeth Oritsejolomi Dudley

Elizabeth Oritsejolomi DudleyElizabeth is Nigerian-British and completed both her primary and secondary education in Nigeria. Her background as a research assistant to the Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett MP has helped develop her political sensitivity, given extensive experience in the preparation of briefings, liaison with civil society, as well as with high level offices of state. She is a member of the Royal African Society, Peace Direct, Amnesty International and the Nigerian Field Society bringing with her a wealth of valuable experience, influence and understanding to the Board. Elizabeth was appointed Secretary to the Board of Trustees on 17 November 2016.

Treasurer - Mr John R. Lee, ACIB; CeMAP

John LeeJohn has worked in banking for over 30 years and is a Director of a major London bank specialising on Nigeria/West Africa commercial issues for their private clients. He has travelled regularly to Nigeria since 1995 establishing a valuable knowledge about all major Nigerian cities.

Membership Secretary - Mr Kevin M. Rafferty, BA; FCMA

Kevin RaffertyKevin has spent some twelve years visiting Nigeria on behalf of De La Rue plc and for eight years he was a Director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company. Formerly he was Treasurer of The Britain-Nigeria Association from 1987 to 1994 and has been a Trustee since 1987.

Dr Mary Anderson


Mary AndersonMary has been involved in language education for more than three decades, in both the academic and the publishing fields. Her doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, was a study of the Fulfulde/Fulani language of Northern Nigeria, based on several years as a research fellow at Bayero University, Kano. During this time she made many friends and learned the basics of Hausa. She then moved into the world of educational publishing, commissioning educational books for Oxford University Press in Africa (specifically Nigeria and Cameroon), and then for global markets.

Mary passionately believes that literacy is the key to empowerment. She was recently commissioned by Macmillan Education to write a series of books for teaching basic literacy in Hausa, for which she did extensive research in Nigerian schools, working in close liaison with colleagues in Zaria and Kano. She is on the executive committee of the British Association for Literacy in Development, and is working closely with a colleague to develop further literacy materials for Nigeria.


Professor Lalage J. Bown, OBE, FRSE, CCIPD

Lalage BownLalage Bown, Emeritus Professor of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Glasgow, previously worked for 31 years in university adult education in four African countries. In Nigeria, she taught at University of Ibadan, 1960-66, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria 1971-76 and University of Lagos (where she became Dean of Education) 1977-80. Through her work with adult education she established valuable contacts with many politicians, journalists, civil servants and senior business people and has travelled in most African countries and also undertaken consultancy assignments in Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the USA and elsewhere. Her latest book (which she edited and to which she contributed) is Education in the Commonwealth: The First Forty Years.

Lalage has been involved in public service both internationally and in the UK, including having been a member of the Board of the British Council, the Governing Body of the Institute of Development Studies and the founding board of Womankind Worldwide. For 21 years she was a National Vice-President of the Townswomen's Guilds and for 6 years Joint Deputy Executive Chairperson of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth. At present she is Patron of the African Families Association and a member of the Advisory Committee on the Emeka Anyaoku Chair in Commonwealth Studies, University of London.

Mr. Tim Cooke

Tim CookeTim’s passion for Nigeria stems from deep-rooted family connections. His grandparents lived in Jos for over 50 years and his father worked throughout northern Nigeria during the period 1938-62. Tim returned to Nigeria in 1982-84, working in Iluke Government Secondary School in the former Kwara State under the auspices of VSO. He then developed a career in market research for businesses, co- founding two publishing companies providing news, data and reports for leading corporations, governments and universities. Tim now devotes his time to advancing education in developing countries, including the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and supporting young entrepreneurs.

Mr Dele Meiji Fatunla

Dele FatunlaDele is a writer and the Communications Manager for the Royal African Society and manages their website as well as co-ordinating RAS’ communications and engagement both on and offline. In addition he is also editor of Gateway for Africa, an events and culture listings website from the Royal African Society.  Dele has extensive experience as a communications professional with a number of organisations including Pearson PLC, Watersone’s Booksellers, Penguin and the Economist Group and holds a Masters in Sociology from City University and a BA in African Studies & Politics from the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. Dele was appointed a Trustee on 3rd February 2015.

General (Dr.) YD Gowon

General Dr Yakubu GowonGeneral Dr Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria's former Head of State for nine years, from 1966 to 1975, joined the Board of The Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Memorial Trust as a Trustee in 1982. Through his many activities and interests General Gowon is able to offer valuable advice and guidance on many aspects of education in Nigeria.

Karen Taylor

karen taylor copyKaren Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council for Africa, has more than 20 years management experience at Board level within both private and public companies in the events industry. She was brought up and educated in South Africa but has spent most of her working career in the UK.  

Executive positions have included Chief Operating Officer at Earls Court and Olympia, Managing Director at Reed Exhibitions and Business Development Director at Tarsus Group. She is a Trustee of The Shine Trust SA, which is a non-profit charity that seeks to improve literacy outcomes for young children from disadvantaged communities in South Africa by working in partnership with teachers, volunteers and parents to provide effective and sustained support for those children as they learn to read and write.  Karen was appointed a BNET Trustee on 3 November 2015.

Nigeria High Commissioner

NHCInvaluable support and advice on how best to make the Trust’s educational projects more effective is given by the Nigerian Government through its High Commission in London. His Excellency The High Commissioner for Nigeria in the United Kingdom is has a permanent seat on the Board of Trustees and is represented by a senior member of his staff. Mr Hassan Mohammed Hassan, Minister /Head, Trade & Economic Section currently represents the High Commissioner.

Mr A (‘Bayo) Oladimeji, M.Sc; CBiol MIBiol

A Oladimeji'Bayo is a Chartered Biologist having obtained his Master's degree in Biochemistry at the University of Wales. Throughout his career he has worked in the field of medical sciences, first as a Research Assistant at the Welsh National School of Medicine and then progressing until he joined the Paediatric Research Unit at Guy's Hospital, London where he continues today. 'Bayo is a member of Professional Support Groups in Science and Education and has been actively involved, both as a participant and an organiser, in several international conferences in Nigeria and London. 

He is co- founder and President of The Nigerian Patriots UK as well as founding the Nigeria Council of Elders UK and was Education Chairman for the Nigeria National Union of UK before becoming its President (1980-82 & 1985-1994). 'Bayo is Patron of the Association of Nigerians in Belgium, the Nigeria Nurses Association and the Warri Ladies Vanguard in the UK and was one of the longest serving members of the Executive Committee of The Britain-Nigeria Association.