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Black Billionaire Paying to Educate Recently Released Chibok Girls, Vows to Do So for All When They’re Released

Robert Smith, an African-American billionaire, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 Chibok girls who were rescued from Boko Haram captivity in October.

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant on media to President Muhammadu Buhari, said Smith has offered to sponsor the girls’ education at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola in Adamawa state, the News Agency of Nigeria reported Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Shehu said the girls will be admitted through negotiation at the prestigious school, with the American billionaire footing the bill for their tuition, room and board, and other related expenses. It costs $5,000-$11,000 a year to educate a single student at the school, which is owned by wealthy frontline Nigerian politician and businessman Atiku Abubakar.

Smith, who already is sponsoring 24 Chibok girls — among them the first ones to escape — also is offering to take responsibility for all the other girls who hopefully will be set free/escape one day. Shehu said the Nigerian government is treating the 21 girls as adoptees of the federal government. “But, there is a lot of local and international interest in the future plans of the girls,” he said.

Who Is Robert Smith?

Robert Smith, who lives in Austin, Texas, is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm currently worth over $26 billion in assets as of September 2016.

The 54-year-old businessman earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at Cornell University and an MBA from Columbia University. According to a short bio written on him by Forbes, he is the son of two Ph.D. holders and was bused across town to school in the early days of desegregation.

Smith is ranked by Forbes as the 268th-richest person in America, and the second-wealthiest African-American, trailing only Oprah Winfrey.

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