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 organisations. 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 who finished his degree in 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.
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Not all Nigerian in Diaspora have a success story like Chukwuemeka, Wale and Ahmed. The story of Nigerians in the Diasporas is as diverse and complex as Nigeria itself. 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 all what not.
We have prosperous Nigerians in Diaspora, we have the successful, the wretched, the ship wrecked, the sidelined, the side tracked and the outcast. Nigerians in 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 ideas were to get educated, make a good amount of money and come back home to both contribute and enjoy. However, the realities of their sojourn compel them to keep on postponing or adjusting their return date. In some cases the only thing that puts an end to the procrastination is the horrible finger of death.
Going back to the story of our heroes with which I started this article;
Chukwuemeka Ezekiel, Wale Adebayo, Ahmed Husain. None of them saw their dream of returning to Nigeria materialized. As I write, none of them is alive. They studied, they worked, and they struggled and yet…
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If you are an African living outside of your nation and you are reading this article, what is your plan? How do you want your story to end? Oh yea, I know what you are thinking, this would not be my story. Chukwuemeka Ezekiel, Wale Adebayo, 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 daily basis, we hear sad news of young Africans dying outside the shore of their nations. Passing away with the unfulfilled dream of going back to develop Africa starched to their hearts…
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This article, is therefore a wakeup call to those of us still alive and well. It is also a call to the Nigerian government to accelerate the process of creating conducive environment, that will encourage the Diaspora to come back to contribute their quota to their fatherland.
We all have only a single shot at life, after which it would be too late. Deep in their hearts every African that went to look for a greener pasture is dreaming of coming back or giving something back.
If the conditions are right most of these people will definitely contribute one thing or the other to the development of our continent. Even those who might not be willing to come back might receive extra incentives to contribute in some other ways, if there are policies in place to encourage their participation.
Nigeria and Africans in Diaspora indeed have a lot to contribute. If African governments don’t move fast to begin to encourage our Diaspora, it could be too late. The second, third and fourth generation immigrants get quickly absorbed in their new environment and culture, that 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 diaspora gain the right to participate in the electoral process.
Now, I want to prove that the Nigerian disapora 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
- 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 might not move back to Nigeria, in this case they might not need to. We could 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 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.
- 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 relation 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 one reason why we cannot afford to neglect our Diaspora. We need them to move from third world to the first world.
- 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 contribution. 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 is an added advantage to have them contribute their experience, knowledge and wisdom towards accomplishing this goal.
- 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 decent. 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 Diaspora. We are never going to be a first world nation without an effective health sector.
- 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.
Sunday Adelaja is a Nigeria born leader, transformation strategist, pastor and innovator. He was based in Kiev, Ukraine.
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