Nigerian Diasporas are the most educated immigrants in the United States

07 Apr 2012

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Nigerian Diasporas are the most educated immigrants in the United States: Time for government to appropriate these skills set.

The recent revelation by the US Bureau of Statistics that Nigerians are the most educated immigrant community in the United States did not come to me as a surprise. It is a fact many of us who have been blessed to have dealt with elements within the corporate and public sectors of the American society have known   for a long time. According to published statistics, Nigerian immigrants have overtaken Asian immigrants-the Indians and Pakistanis who had previously occupied that spot as the most educated immigrant community in the United States.  According to the report 37 percent of Nigerian immigrant population have bachelors degrees, 17 percent have graduate (masters) degrees while one percent, have post-graduate (PhD) degrees. The White American population on the other hand, has 19 percent with bachelor degrees, eight percent with graduate degrees while one percent has post graduate degrees. The cumulative effect of this revelation is that Nigerian Diaspora community brings a lot to the table and consequently has earned a pride of place within in certain sectors of the American socio-political experience.

The realization that Nigerians in spite of the activities of a tiny percent of our nationals who have collectively tainted our otherwise sterling reputation with some unsavory tendencies are held in high esteem came to me, about 12 years ago, when I returned to school to update and strengthen my intellectual foundations. I remember vividly the rock-star treatment I was given by my professors in my first day in a political science class (my major) and journalism class (my minor.) As we were in the process of doing the normal ritual of introducing ourselves and where we originally came from (those of us who were immigrants,) when it was my turn to introduce myself, the professor, having been told that I was originally from Nigeria, went ahead to heap praises on Nigerian students he had previously taught, most of whom he said had gone ahead to do graduate and professional studies at some of the most elite Ivy League colleges in the United States. “The Best Graduating Student-the Valedictorian in the past two years have been Nigerians. I hope you will follow that illustrious path and do well here.”  As the entire class turned to look at me, for a moment, I felt overwhelmed by the pressure and the expectation the whole class and the professor had of me.

Needless to say that I didn’t disappoint the professor as I became a major presence in the class, earning the trust of the professor so much so that if I felt under the weather, and asked the professor to excuse me, he would plead that I should manage and come to class because “my presence brought out the best in him.” I later graduated Magnum Cum Laude and went ahead to earn a master’s degree graduating as the ‘Best Overall Student in Political Science-International Relations and Comparative Politics.’ Getting into workforce, I was also singled out by my boss, and given a huge responsibility as the Senior Manager in charge of Government and Allied services for the Fortune 500 Company because you “Nigerians are exceptionally brilliant and are very dedicated” my then boss had stated.

I have used my personal experience here to illustrate the depth of talents pool that Nigeria has given the rest of the world. From some of the most intellectually rigorous establishments in America such as NASA to advancements in medical science, Nigerians have earned a pride of place in the United States and elsewhere. You always recognize them with that unique aplomb-the self-assuredness that they had long internalized, the sense of circumspection and nuanced perspective they bring to bear in their every day dealings with complex issues.

As I have always stated on this page- it is as a matter of fact becoming a recurring decimal, Nigeria must engage its Diasporan population in its developmental efforts. If the Western world recognized the sterling contributions our nationals have made toward the growth of their societies,  Nigerian government should find ways and means of appropriating the talents of these patriotic Nigerians and make them partners and integral components of our national development.

If India and China encouraged their Diasporans to return home- a development that has led those countries to move from agrarian and underdeveloped entities they were once consigned into, to becoming leading economies today-earning membership in the famous (BRIC)-Brazil, Russia, India and China), I think Nigeria could, someday join that group and expand it to (BRICN-Brazil, Russia, India, China and Nigeria.) We must use what we have to get to where we desire. Donating our best brains to other countries and not doing something to encourage reverse migration, I think is a bad strategic move.  When Ireland became a member of the European Union (EU) I can vividly remember the number of my friends and colleagues who went back to that country because government in Dublin and other parts of the country needed their expertise and did everything to encourage them to come back. These Irish Diasporas helped heat up the engine of economic growth that catapulted Ireland into a major economic power within the EU nations. Even though lately the country had experienced some stress in its economic growth, most analysts believe given the deep talents of its people, the country will get over those challenges soon. Governments at both the center and the states level should do all it can to encourage the Diaspora Nigerians to come home and contribute towards national development. We cannot have all the educated workforce contributing hugely towards the growth of other societies while we watch those countries celebrate the skills set our Diasporan population has brought into their workforce. As Dr. Okonta-a Delta State born physician who runs Rapid MD-a major medical facility in Queens, New York told me the other day “most of us here have had all the success and financial security we ever needed. Our kids have graduated from college or are getting into colleges-thus freeing us to pursue other desires and areas of giving back to the society that nurtured us- Nigeria” People like Dr. Okonta should be courted and encouraged to return home and help design some new approaches in our health-care delivery.

Mitt Romney Inches Close to Securing Republican Nomination

With his triple victory at yesterday's (Tuesday-April 3, 2012) primaries in Maryland, Washington DC and Wisconsin, Mitt Romney appears set to clinch the nomination  to hoist the Republican flag at the November 8 presidential elections. The fall election will offer stark contrasts between the two candidates-President Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney and the direction they want to take the United States and the world to. Next week, I will handicap the race and come out with prognostications. Can Romney beat Obama or will Mitt come out of the bruising primaries a politically damaged goods, and whose aroma will be toxic to the independents whose support normally tilt the balance of victory? Who is the real Mitt Romney? What are his core values or philosophical underpinnings? Can he rally the conservatives and the Deep South to buy into his original 'secular humanist' tendencies or will they sit out? Keep a date

Stories that touch the heart

One Night of Wrong Judgment and One Hell of a Painful Experience:
Why Every woman Must read This Story – Part 5

Continued from last edition

When he asked if I wanted to have dinner with him later that evening, I should have nicely refused his offer, but I allowed a temporary lapse in judgement to becloud my matrimonial fidelity. I agreed to have dinner with him, and the result of the encounter would come back to haunt me 15 years later and threaten to end a marriage I thought was ordained by God.

Having dinner with Ken, and seeing how dapper and handsome he was, brought back a surge of emotions I had suppressed due to my new matrimonial status. Seeing him across the dinning table reminded me of the first time we went out to dinner, which had ended with both of us having the most intimate time of our lives. Yes it was truly a marvelous time which even as a married woman, I couldn’t help to remember.

As Ken told me he still loved me and had forgiven me for breaking his heart, and hoped that I was happy since he couldn’t afford to see me miserable and unhappy, I felt weak and vulnerable. It was good to know that he still cared after all that had gone between us. As he lifted my hand and kissed it gently, my judgement took leave of me. I started to yearn for his touch, his hold and his body, which to say the least, was crazy, but I was too vulnerable. As if on cue, the restaurant host brought the check and he promptly paid. I knew given the way I felt that I was in trouble and as I feebly attempted to end the night with the request that he take me home right away, I saw that look in Ken’s eyes which seemed to wonder if I didn’t trust him to respect my marital vows. But the problem was not him, it was me and I knew if we found ourselves together for the next few minutes, I would betray my marital vows and that’s exactly what happened.

As he drove me home, he gently had his hand on my legs and the surge of emotions this time was beyond control. I held his hand tightly, caressed it gently and a few minutes later, the car came to a stop and as if propelled by a force that was greater than both of us, we found ourselves kissing ferociously and making out angrily. Twenty minutes later, I was in Ken’s apartment, yearning, desiring and wanting. My request was granted and as we lay in bed both starring at each other and the animalistic desire having been fulfilled, I began to fret and frown – not with Ken, but with everything I represent. I began to cry and to hate myself. As I cried uncontrollably, Ken was very touched and he tried to console me. But the mistake had been made, and to make it even more painful and dreadful, I was ovulating that day and the intimacy was done without protection. I was alarmed! What if I became pregnant? How would I explain this to my husband if the child later became a split image of Ken? As a Catholic, I abhor abortion since I liken it to murder. So if I became pregnant, how would I feel within me, knowing full well that I was carrying another man’s child while pretending it to be my husband’s?

That night, I cried myself to bed and quickly ran back to the U.S. the next day. As my husband picked me up at the airport, I was nothing but an emotional wreck. My spirit was hollow and my soul empty. I had betrayed my husband and now risked the possibility of giving birth to another man’s child. As my husband made love to me that night, I felt dirty – almost as if I wanted to throw up. He noticed how placid and frigid I was compared to the spirit and energy of a lioness that usually accompanied my approach to intimacy. I lied to him that I was suffering from jet-lag. My hope and prayer was that since my ovulation cycle was not over yet, that if I became pregnant, it may be by my husband.

As I counted the days and hours to my next menstrual period, I was alarmed when after the normal cycle; my menstrual period did not come. I gave it another few days, but it didn’t happen. Two weeks later, I went to see my physician who confirmed the dreaded news that I was pregnant. As I came home to announce to my husband the ‘good’ news, he was over the moon with excitement. I, on the other hand was filled with dread, because the child may after all have been Ken’s.

When nine months later, my son was born, the first thing I did was to look at him intently to see if he resembled his father. It was difficult to tell at that time, but one feature in him told me he may be Ken’s child – his forehead and large eyeballs were unmistakably Ken’s. To compound my problems, I had, mistakenly told ken after I had dishonored my marital vows that I was ovulating, and he had asked me what I would do if I became pregnant with his child. I had naively told him I would keep it and may someday tell the child who its real father was. When I informed Ken that I truly was pregnant and even though I had rushed back and had made love to my husband, and that it was likely he may be the father of the baby, he told me he would take care of his responsibility if it came to that. That was a monumental error I made 15 years later, Ken would come back to claim his child and put everything I had done to have a good marriage in serious jeopardy.


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