Chukwuemeka Ezekiel, Wale Adebayo, Ahmed Husain. Three very promising Nigerian talents left the shores of the country 30 years ago in search of greener pastures. Years later, Chukwuemeka became a renowned neurosurgeon in the United States of America. Chukwuemeka’s plan was to attain the pinnacle of success in his career, then at the age of 50 return to Nigeria with his wealth of experience.
Wale Adebayo finished his first degree in International relations in Poland before he moved on to Germany, where he became famous for his work with international organizations. He always tells his friends that he is only in Europe for a short spell after which he is going to develop his community back in Nigeria.
Ahmed Husain, a brilliant lawyer finished his degree at Oxford, after which he became a representative for many international businesses. Even though he got married to a white British lady, he always told his children stories about mother Africa and how he was going to go back to the northern part of Nigeria to bring back the development he had been part of in Europe to his own people.
Not all Nigerian Diasporas have a success story like Chukwuemeka, Wale and Ahmed. The story of Nigeria Diasporas is as diverse and complex as Nigeria itself. Just as we have the successful ones, so we have the stranded, dejected wanderers. Nigerians are scattered all around the world from civilized Europe to some backyard third world nations in Asia and Africa. Professionally the Nigerian Diaspora range from Professors, medical doctors to drug pushers, prostitutes and everything in between.
Making up the Diaspora, we have prosperous Nigerians, we have the successful, the wretched, the ship wrecked, the sidelined, the side tracked and the outcast. The Nigerian diaspora live in conditions ranging from palatial opulence, to marginal prison yards under obscured circumstances.
Most of these Nigerians left the shores of their country determined to be away only for a short while. Their plan was to get educated, make a good amount of money and return home to both contribute to the welfare of their communities and enjoy life. However, for various reasons the realities of their sojourn compelled them to keep on postponing or adjusting their return date. In some cases the only thing that puts an end to the procrastination and postponement is the horrible finger of death.
In regard to the stories of our heroes with which I started this article, namely Chukwuemeka Ezekiel, Wale Adebayo and Ahmed Husain. Unfortunately, none of them saw their dream of returning to Nigeria materialized. Presently none of them is alive. They studied, they worked, and they struggled and yet…
Now I want to turn my attention to every African living outside of your nation with a desire to return to make a difference. If you are reading this article, my question to you is: what is your plan? How do you want your story to end? Oh yes, I know what you are thinking- “What happened to the gentlemen mentioned above will not be my story.” You know what? Chukwuemeka Ezekiel, Wale Adebayo and Ahmed Husain thought exactly the same way. This wonderful African achievers are now gone without witnessing the renaissance of their beloved fatherland. Africa is still languishing in lack, deprivation, poverty, pain and sorrow. Oh, how badly Africa needed their expertise. Their skills and intelligence could have contributed immensely to the motherland.
On a daily basis, we hear the sad news of young Africans dying outside the shores of their nations. They pass away with the unfulfilled dream of returning to develop Africa, starched to their hearts…
My intention with this article, is therefore to send a wakeup call to those of us still alive and well. It is also a call to the newly elected Nigerian government to accelerate the process of creating a conducive environment. An environment that will encourage the Diaspora to return to contribute their quota to the well-being of the fatherland.
We all have only one shot at life, after which it would be too late. I am convinced that deep in the heart of every African that left to look for a greener pasture, is the dream of returning to give something back.
It is very likely, that most of these people will contribute one thing or another to the development of our continent, provided the conditions are right. Even those who might not be willing to come back at first, may by receiving extra incentives, be willing to contribute in some other ways. However, this will require that there are policies in place to encourage their participation.
Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora indeed have a lot to contribute. If African governments don’t move fast to begin to encourage our Diaspora to return, it could be too late to gain their expertise. The second, third and fourth generation immigrants get quickly absorbed in their new environment and culture. They tend to lose touch with their countries of origin. Our best bet is to entice the first generation immigrants, who still have cultural and emotional attachments with their homeland, to return and participate in the political, economic and social processes going on at home. So far, it is only Nigeria that has a parliament committee on diaspora in the whole of the continent.
One of the very urgent things that the senate committee must do in Nigeria is to ensure that Nigerians in the diaspora gain the right to participate in the electoral process.
NOW, I WANT TO PROVE THAT THE NIGERIAN DIASPORA DEFINITELY MATTERS:
“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
1. A NIGERIAN IN THE DIASPORA COULD SOON BECOME THE FIRST BLACK BRITISH PRIME MINISTER. Chuka Umunna could make history by becoming the first black Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Born in London in 1978, Chuka was bred in the UK. His late father, Bennett Umunna, hailed from Anambra State while his Irish mother, Patricia, is a solicitor.
Chuka is a British Labour Party politician. He stands the chance of becoming the next head of the Labour party. Incase his party wins the general election, he stands a chance of becoming the first Black Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Even if people like Chuka do not move back to Nigeria, in this case chances are he might not need to. Nigeria could potentially benefit more from him having love and passion for the country than him moving back. We therefore need our government to put structures in place that would facilitate a closer relationship between African immigrants with the continent. This is one reason why the Diaspora matters. They have already attained the highest level of experience and professionalism in first world nations; which could make things easier if we could harness their wealth of wisdom back in Africa.
2. THE APPOINTMENT OF A NIGERIAN, MRS. OLUFEMI OBE AS THE PRECINCT COMMANDER OF THE NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT, could be a great winning point for Nigeria as a whole, bearing in mind the crippling problem we have with the Nigerian Police system. If the Nigerian government could establish a working relationship with Mrs. Olufemi Obe, she could bring her wealth of experience to help us fix the police problem in Nigeria. We all know that New York is a complex city to govern. Her experience will come in handy for Nigeria and Africa in general. This is another reason why we cannot afford to neglect our Diaspora. We need them to move from third world status to the first world.
3. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, OPENLY ADMITTED THAT NIGERIA COULD BECOME THE WORLD’S NEXT ECONOMIC SUCCESS STORY. But for that to happen, Nigeria needs to build strong democratic institutions to which the diaspora could be of immense benefit. For Nigeria to truly be moved from the third world to the first, we need to harness the experience of Nigerians who are already playing a leading role in building the first world in America, Europe, and Asia etc. It would be an added advantage to have them contribute their experience, knowledge and wisdom towards accomplishing this goal.
4. Another factor that tells us that the Nigerian Diaspora matters, is the fact that JUST IN AMERICA ALONE, THERE ARE OVER 25,000 MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS OF NIGERIAN DESCENT. This explains another major reason why our government must do all they can to establish a rapport with Nigerians abroad. Our despicable medical situation in Nigeria could be fixed almost overnight if we could have a good rapport with Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora. We are never going to be a first world nation without an effective health sector.
5. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is also the seat of power of the European Union. A NIGERIAN, COLLINS NWEKE HAS BECOME A SECOND TERM COUNSELOR AS THE ONLY NONE BELGIUM BORN POLITICIAN TO WIN AN ELECTIVE POSITION IN WEST-FLANDERS. He is responsible for the economic and social policy portfolio. As we all know, social policies are almost none existent in Nigeria. A bridge between Nigeria and Belgium through Hon. Nweke could contribute hugely to the standard of living of Nigerians. Which could go a long way to making us become a first world nation.
6. MY FRIEND JOHN ABRAHAM GODSON BECAME THE FIRST BLACK MAN TO BE ELECTED AS A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IN THE POLISH SEJM. Poland is a success story, going from a communist country to a fast growing economic power in Europe. That experience is also needed to transform Nigeria from a third world country to a first world nation. That is where people like Pastor John Godson could be a blessing to Nigeria
7. A NIGERIAN MAYOR OF BRENT, LONDON UK. MICHAEL ADEYEYE ESTIMATES THE NIGERIAN POPULATION IN LONDON AS OVER 1 MILLION PEOPLE. Apart from Adeyeye, there are many Nigerians who have grown to attain political status in England, ranging from council members to mayors and parliament members. Chuka Umunna, Helen Grant and Chi Onwurah are good examples of this. Friends, can you begin to imagine what a torrent of influence could be brought to our economic development through this group of Diasporas in England alone?
8. THE VARIOUS ESTIMATES OF NIGERIANS IN THE DIASPORA RANGES BETWEEN 15- 17 MILLION. These are mainly educated Nigerians, able-bodied, youthful and energetic. They could become a driving force in rebuilding a new nation. Their role in making Nigeria a first world nation cannot be over emphasized. This is because:
- They are exposed
- Most of them are well read
- They have learned to live by the law of the nations they are in.
- They are proactive and take initiative.
- They have experience in cross cultural interactions which means they are more tolerant of other people.
- Some of them speak foreign languages
- Most of them now know the value of hard work and money.
These are vital tools in national development. For these and many other reasons, Nigeria cannot afford to neglect this teeming number of Nigerians abroad.
9. I PERSONALLY WILL ADVOCATE FOR THE NEW NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO SET UP A MINISTRY OF DIASPORA AND INTEGRATION. It would help build a bridge between our citizens abroad and also stimulate investment back to the Nigeria economy. Countries like India, the Philippines and Mexico have a national policy in regards to their diaspora. Presently their diaspora sustains many of these economies. Nigeria needs to do more and learn more from those who have done better than us. ON OUR JOURNEY FROM THE THIRD WORLD TO THE FIRST WORLD, A MINISTRY OF DIASPORA AND INTEGRATION WILL BE IN URGENT DEMAND.
10. NIGERIANS SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD REMITTED $21 BILLION INTO THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMY IN 2013. That is over half of our foreign reserves sent in by Nigerian Diaspora in one year which is another proof that Nigerians might not necessarily need to come back. But statistics proofs that According to the United Nations, an African professional working in the United States contributes about $150,000 per year to the U.S. economy. Again, if you do the math, you will realize that the African professional remitting $300 per year to Africa is contributing 50 times more to the United States economy than what goes to the Africa.
As big as $21 billion sounds, there is no doubt that these Nigerians in the diaspora are capable of producing greater wealth if they bring back their expertise and skills to Nigeria. Let us assume they will not be able to multiply $21 billion 50 times as in America, but they might be able to multiply it 10 times, which would be over $200 billion every year. That is almost the size of the budget of France.
“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life, to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Gen 45:5-7
Even if most of these immigrants would not move back to Nigeria, in this case they might not need to. We could benefit more from them having love and passion for the country than them moving back. We therefore need our government to put structures in place that would facilitate a closer relationship between our African immigrants and the continent.
As much as there would be many of our immigrants that are not ready to come back to Africa, yet many are willing to come and settle in Africa. Examples abound of Nigerians that regularly move back and find their footing in Africa. These bold young Africans left the comfort of the developed world to move back to Africa and contribute their quota in making Nigeria move from a third world country to a first world nation:
“I think patriotism is like charity — it begins at home” – Henry James
1. A 32-year-old entrepreneur and consultant. Born and raised in FESTAC Town in Lagos. He went to Budapest, Hungary for his higher education. He moved back to Nigeria in 2014 to set up a successful business. The name of the company is Mcinos Outsource Solutions. Mcinos Outsource Solutions is a management consultancy that specializes in IT Solutions for Small & Medium sized businesses. THEIR MAIN FOCUS IS TO ASSIST BUSINESSES ON HOW TO BEST USE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TO MEET THEIR NEEDS AND IMPROVE EFFICIENCY. THEREBY CONTRIBUTING TO MAKING NIGERIA A FIRST WORLD NATION.
2. Kariba Sasegbon owns an online greeting cards company called ‘Paper and String’, which she set up after her move back to Nigeria, following a stint in the UK. With a background in Physiotherapy, Kariba is helping to build and develop the next generation of E-commerce businesses in Nigeria. Her passion for cards and design inspired her to set up an online greeting cards company, an idea still in its infancy in Nigeria. AS LITTLE AS THIS MIGHT SOUND, ANY IDEA WOULD SELL IN AFRICA BECAUSE OF THE VIRGIN STAGE OF OUR ECONOMY AND ALMOST TOTAL ABSENCE OF COMPETITION. EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT TO HELP DEVELOP NIGERIA FROM THIRD WORLD COUNTRY TO A FIRST WORLD NATION.
3. Mimidoo Achineku works in Online Media, for the National Broadcasting Commission in Abuja. In her spare time, she is a blogger and has a relationship blog called ‘Miseducation of Mimi’. She is a strategic marketing campaign consultant and has started a charity initiative called ‘For Every Stroke’.
She attended Ronik Comprehensive College for Secondary School. Following this she went to Cambridge Seminars in Cambridge, UK. For her O’ Levels, and afterwards Liverpool John Moores University for her Undergraduate Degree to study Business Administration, majoring in Economics & Finance. DESPITE HER RATHER COMPETITIVE QUALIFICATION MIMIDOO NEVERTHELESS, MOVED BACK TO NIGERIA IN AN EFFORT TO HELP OUR NATION BECOME GREAT AGAIN.
4. Afam Mozia, a 29-year-old chap from Delta state, moved back to Nigeria in 2012, initially to do the NYSC program. Right now he is a Systems Analyst working in a company called Energia, based in Lagos. His primary and secondary education was in Benin. For secondary school, he went to Igbinedion Education Centre, graduating in 2001, and went to the US to do his Undergraduate Degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills from 2002 to 2006. IT IS THANKS TO PEOPLE LIKE AFAM THAT NIGERIA WOULD SEE A BRIGHT FUTURE, BUT WE STILL NEED MILLIONS LIKE HIM TO COME BACK AND HELP RAISE OUR STANDARD.
5. Bambo Akani, is a sports entrepreneur in Nigeria. He runs a company called ‘Making of Champions’, which is a sports media and management company. He has been doing this since moving back to Nigeria. He did his A-Levels, at Reading Grammar School, and afterwards enrolled at the University of Cambridge to study Chemical Engineering. BAMBO DECIDED TO MOVE BACK TO NIGERIA, BECAUSE NIGERIA IS LIKE A FERTILE GROUND FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IT IS ANOTHER VERY NECESSARY STEP IN HELPING DEVELOP THE NATION.
6. Peter Nwangwu was born in Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria, to Igbo parents from Anambra State. He did his high-school in Anglican Grammar School, Umuahia, and Methodist College, Uzuakoli, where he became the pioneer recipient of the Best Student of the Year award in 1970. In January 1972, Nwangwu came to the United States for his college education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He placed out of many courses by challenge exams, and was elected into the university’s honour roll beginning from his first year, and also into the national scholastic honour society, Phi Eta Sigma, the exclusive academic honorary for selected men in American universities.
He made history when he became the first student at the university to earn the Pharm.D. and Ph.D. degrees simultaneously.
Nwangwu lived a very productive professional life in the United States for 34 years before returning to Nigeria, to contribute to development of Nigeria. In a reference book, “The Nigerian-Americans”, published in America by Greenwood Press, authored by Professor Ogbaa. Peter Nwangwu, along with Haakeem Olajuwon and Phillip Emeagwali were among the twelve Nigerians who were selected and documented as Nigerians who have made the greatest positive impact and contributions to the American society.
In Nigeria Nwangwu has served in the following capacities: Professor of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacy; Chief Development Officer, University of Nigeria; and President and Chief Executive Officer, University of Nigeria Research and Economic Development (UNRED) Foundation. IT IS THANKS TO MEN LIKE PROF. NWANGWU THAT NIGERIA WOULD REACH THE HIGHEST HEIGHT IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. HOWEVER NIGERIA STILL NEEDS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LIKE HIM TO COME BACK AND CONTRIBUTE.
7. Biki John is the head of the Marketing Communications department for a Port Harcourt based, international school called Greenoak International School (GIS). In addition, she also runs an independent consulting company that specializes in crafting communication strategies for companies in the fashion industry.
Her formative years were first spent in Nigeria and then the UK. For university, she continued her studies in the UK and attended King’s College London (KCL), where she read Law and graduated with a second class upper.
Upon graduating from KCL, she completed her LLM (Master of Laws) at Nottingham University. BIKI DECIDED TO LEAVE THE UNITED KINGDOM AND COME BACK FOR GREENER PASTURES IN NIGERIA, WHERE SHE IS NOT JUST CONTRIBUTING TO DEVELOPING THE ECONOMY, BUT IS ALSO MAKING IT AS A PROFESSIONAL. SHE IS ALSO FINDING FULFILLMENT IN IMPACTING THE YOUNGER GENERATION.
8. After completing his studies at Harvard Business School, Tomiwa Igun and some friends established the organization “Young African MBAs” with the aim of closing the gap of management talent in Africa. Now boasting thousands of members, the organization fosters ties between the continent’s young talents and also assists its members in career transitioning to Africa. THIS IS A PRACTICAL WAY OF BUILDING A NEW AFRICA. THESE YOUNG MEN ARE SHOWING US THE WAY. BRAVO!
9. Tari’s primary focus at the moment is baking. She bakes under the Honey’s Cupcakes brand, which she founded a few years ago. Besides that, she does some freelance writing, though she writes primarily on africanhadithi.com. African Hadithi is an online reader that focuses on issues that matter to Africans, written by Africans based in the diaspora, and on the continent. Her writing focuses on real life experiences – mostly hers – written and experienced through a gendered lens and finished with a sprinkling of academia.
She went to Cambridge, England for her A-Levels at the Cambridge Centre for Sixth-Form studies (CCSS). After this, she moved to Boston for her undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts, Boston graduating with a B.A. in Liberal Arts in 2007.
THERE IS NO BUSINESS THAT DOESN’T SELL IN AFRICA. SOME ISRAELI EXPATRIATES THAT I MET IN LAGOS SHERATON HOTEL, ONCE TOLD ME ONLY FOOLS CAN’T MAKE MILLIONS IN NIGERIA. ALL THESE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN ARE PROVING THAT TO BE TRUE. MILLION DOLLAR OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND ALL OVER AFRICA WAITING TO BE TAPPED, BY HER ENLIGHTENED CITIZENS. THEREBY CONTRIBUTING TO MAKING AFRICA A FIRST WORLD CONTINENT.
10. Professor Vincent Chinedum Anigbogu, is the Director General, Institute for National Transformation, which has centers in Atlanta, Nairobi (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda), and Lagos (Nigeria). He is also the President and CEO of the consulting firm, JC (Jesus Christ) Quality Management Group in US, Nigeria, and Uganda. He speaks to both presidents and leaders of the above-mentioned African countries, teaching them on National Transformation.
In 2004 Professor Anigbogu moved back from the USA to give back to Nigeria his motherland. He has a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Alabama in 1986. He also obtained his M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry and B.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA in 1981 and 1978, respectively. He has taught, conducted research, and published in the field of analytical Chemistry for nearly 20 years at several universities including Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA (1992-95) and Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA (1995-2004).
PROFESSOR ANIGBOGU’S DREAM IS TO SEE THE DEVELOPMENT OF PURPOSEFUL LEADERS WHO WILL IMPACT THEIR GENERATION AND AFRICA. PROF. ANIGBOGU IS A WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF A NIGERIAN FROM THE DIASPORA WHO IS TAKING THE CONTINENT BY STORM.
THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR YOUR STORY. PLEASE, DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING ABOUT!!!
My dear readers, especially those of you in the Diaspora, as you go through this article, I hope God is stirring something in you. It is not by accident that you were born a Nigerian or an African. Please don’t leave this earth without contributing your quota. It doesn’t matter if you go back home or not, but leave your mark.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John f. Kennedy
I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the newly elected government of Gen. Buhari and Prof. Osinbajo to please heed the call to help our vast number of Nigerians in Diaspora come back to contribute something to the development of their motherland.
“A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.” – George Santayana
My dear brothers and sisters, I don’t believe anyone of you traveled out of Nigeria to die there. Please don’t let that be your story.
“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.” Isa. 61:7
My prayer is, you will fulfill the destiny and purpose for which you left your native land and return with a smile on your face and also put smiles on the faces of those you love.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja.