Upon reading the comments by the self-styled, one hundred concerned Nigerians abroad, I was torn between agony and bemusement or even pity. And whether we cried or laughed, as we read the two petitions that were apparently directed at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC), directed at long-suffering Nigerians and to god, written by some Diaspora Nigerians and their American friends at least one thing was clear
Nigeria is deprived through Brain Drain. This is quite unsettling for all of us involved.
Unsettling state of affairs does exists! And depending on where you sit, and of course stand, on issues Nigerian, you would advocate a resolution, or other. These 100 concerned Nigerians abroad, are demanding a blanket rejection or cancellation of the just concluded general elections in Nigeria, as they implore the Nigeria Labor Congress, NLC and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and all of civil society to resist perceived electoral irregularities. No way! I do say. No way, Nigeria does not need a constitutional crises!
Well, they have rights to associate, assemble and debate Nigeria’s elections outcome and furthermore to urge any action, so long as, such actions are not illegal. After all, debate, dissent and disagreements are essential elements of democracy. I am saddened by their seeming wholesale condemnation of Nigeria’s election by these Nigerians and their six American friends, comprised mostly of college professors, these Americans seemed to be making heavy-handed demand upon their government on how to relate to President Yar’Adua after the inaugurations. And what the US must demand and insist upon, or “compel” the Nigerian president do, as he takes office.
But I worry more about the Nigerians!
This list of 100 concerned Nigerians abroad is clearly a very impressive list. I wish that they were all serving Nigeria. From where I sit and stand on Nigeria, the impact on Nigeria, as a result of their departure from Nigeria, they are clear evidence of Brain Drain, the idea that Nigeria is deprived of all their talents is frightening!
There are some on this list that are known partisans. Professor Bolaji Aluko of Maryland USA, for instance, is a known member of the Action Congress or AC, a political party, operated and funded by one Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of Potomac Maryland in the United States. Atiku, you may recall was a PDP topnotch member.
There is also Professor Isa Odidi, who paraded himself often as a presidential candidate, and chairman of the New Democrats political party. He lives in Canada, some of us are left wondering, whether he too, a neutral Nigerian abroad, who is just concerned? Or a member of the aggrieved band of election losers, such as Dr. Aluko of Atiku’s Action Congress and many others under some disguise or other?
Are these hundred persons political jobbers? Are they politicians in disguises? Are they acting on behalf of different political parties as a coalition, while pretending to be some band of neutral Concerned Nigerians abroad? Whatever their undeclared platforms and in whatever disguises, are there strange bedfellows in this 100 with conflicts of interest? Well, regardless, I like the list! There are important use to which it can be put!
Just look at the list of the petitioners! They certainly the crème de la crème of our society, any society! Lawyers, professors of chemical engineering, professors of mathematics, as Bolaji Aluko and Abba Gumel respectively are. I have met them, and convoked with them on matters Nigeria and in hot pursuit of Nigeria’s national interests of which they are very passionate. These petitioners are Nigerians who have spent so many years contributing to the development of America and Canada instead of Nigeria! What a loss!
On that list of Nigerian petitioners, I see gains, losses and opportunities. A great numbers of these Nigerians went to colleges and universities in Nigeria for free completely or with heavily subsidized feedings and accommodations arranged by our government.
Some on that petitioners list arrived America, Europe and Canada with full scholarship at the expense of Nigeria. While a few others probably made their own efforts. But in all this, what debt do these petitioning Nigerians owe to Nigeria? In America, education is not cheap, by the time anyone is educated to professional or professorial level, such person would owe banks one hundred thousand dollars or more!
So what do these high caliber and high cadre of Nigerians owe Nigeria? Considering that a great number of them went to school completely for free or partially free or at subsidized rates and did so in Nigeria. What do these Nigerians owe Nigeria, fully or even in a partial sense, actually, you owe your society contributions regardless.
While it is the case that some Nigerians abroad actually got overseas with full scholarship at the expense of Nigeria, they have remained abroad after the completions of their education and training. They have in the process, corruptly enriched themselves at the expense of Nigeria. They have shamelessly forgotten their obligations to Nigeria. Some of them do not even consider that they owe such obligations. So, what debt do they owe to Nigeria? And how are these persons different from those who corruptly enriched themselves as political office holders? It is stealing from Nigeria, only at a different level.
Shall we multiply one hundred thousand dollars by the one hundred concerned Nigerians on the petitioners list? Shall we compute the interests on these expenses by Nigeria for her run away citizens over the years? What are the moral and financial equivalents of these costs without benefits to Nigeria?
There are others on that list of course, who are hardscrabble self-made persons without Nigerian sponsorships in terms of full scholarships or subsidized education. They may have received no help or scholarships at all, but still, imagine what they could have done for Nigeria and what they could be doing for Nigeria? Consider incredible knowledge base, the immense exposure and limitless horizons of this list of petitioners! Imagine the endless possibilities?
There are gains and losses; In terms of gains and opportunities, yes! The list presents opportunities! The list is a resource, a database of Nigerian experts abroad, a partial list no doubt, but a good list nonetheless! These are legal experts, medical experts, chemical engineering experts, experts in mathematical computations and calculations.
These are Nigerian persons, brilliant and obsessed about Nigeria’s living up to her full potentials in our life time. These are Nigerians with visions of Nigeria totally unlike how it is now. You may consider their current attitude crazy and outrageous for appearing to scandalize Nigeria yet again, loudly and in public.
You could be more generous and smilingly, prefer to see them as outrageous in the most visionary sense. I challenge them to move from and beyond easy rabble rousing and saber rattling of every government in Nigeria. They should move away from these ragtag and haphazard political hatchet jobs on behalf of some Nigerian politicians.
They should move progressively, to forming Think Tanks, Investment Clubs and Lobby Groups. Let them become powerful lobby groups such as the famous American Israel Political Action Committee or AIPAC which is known to wield a lot of power and influence over every American government on behalf of Israel, even when AIPAC do not necessarily approve of policies of every subsisting Israeli government.
Let these eminent Nigerians begin to use their high profiles and connections for Nigeria’s benefits. Let them begin to act as connectors between Nigeria and the rest of the world’s humanity. Let them not rise only when it is time to ridicule, lampoon, criticize, scandalize and embarrass Nigeria over the imperfect state of affairs in Nigeria.
Nigerians abroad can act as facilitators instead, even if they do not and may not always agree with a particular president of Nigeria. They can love Nigeria and demonstrate such immense love with zealous pursuit of Nigeria’s interests unconditionally and always.
It certainly cannot not be, that the only time Nigerians seem to agree to act together in public overseas, is when a gathering is intended to castigate Nigeria. Nigerians abroad can also gather to celebrate Nigeria. And to advocate Nigeria’s worthy causes.
Let these Nigerian persons with very tantalizing qualifications, pedigree, prefixes and suffixes become agents for positive changes for Nigeria. Let them combine their political activism with economic, social, scientific and other sundry nonviolent revolutions or change for Nigeria’s benefit. Those initiators behind this list of petitioners, may have started a catalytic happenstance wittingly or unwittingly for Nigeria development, advancement and greatness.
Let them use this list of themselves as relational database for common good and public good for fellow Nigerians and Nigeria.