Conversation with Bukie Adetula (1)

His name is Olubukola Adetula, but you can call him “Bukie”. That’s what everyone calls him. A marverick lawyer, he runs a general practice in criminal, personal injury and immigration law in East Orange, New Jersey.

Sola Osofisan: Let’s talk about success. Do you think there is a difference between success in Nigeria and success here in America?

Bukie Adetula: I think for you to be able to compare success in both countries, you have to look at what the definition of success is.

Sola Osofisan: So what’s your definition of success?

Bukie Adetula: My definition of success is a career, a business, a profession where you’re enjoying doing what you’re doing… You’re a family man, happily married with children, a happy home environment… Some of the essentials in life are readily available to you, basic transportation –

Sola Osofisan: You have just described yourself.

Bukie Adetula: I think I’m successful. I think I have success. I think I have been blessed with success. We need to distinguish it, yes, from success in Nigeria, because here, some of the things that I think come with being successful… a lot of those things are not available in Nigeria. Being able to pick up your telephone and conduct business, being able to make phone calls, being able to move money from one account to another when you need to, being able to walk into a bank and say ‘look, I have this little project – here’s who I am – here’s what I’ve been able to achieve. I need some money to back me up.’ Being able to do that in a matter of 20 minutes – 25 minutes.

Those are all the things that help make you successful. You can sit back as a lot of people do in Nigeria and say ‘I have 50 million Naira in one bank account and then I have 120 million Naira in another one and I’m waiting on a 200 million Naira contract from Abuja and Lagos State government owes me 50 million Naira… Success is not about money. You could be successful and not have money and that’s the mistake people make.

Sola Osofisan: When did you come to America?

Bukie Adetula: January 1979, on a very wintry day. I arrived in a double-breasted suit with no jacket, no coat, into Buffalo, NY. Saw snow for the first time. Freezing cold weather as Buffalo is notorious for, and watching the snowflakes fall from the sky. The excitement of watching the flakes made me forget it was cold and I didn’t have a coat on.

Sola Osofisan: What were your first impressions, suddenly seeing white faces all over the place?

Bukie Adetula: Well, because one had been privy to movies and television, newspapers, magazines over the years, one sort of had some idea what America was going to be like. I expected the roads to be slightly better than they were. I expected the people to be able to understand me easily with my accent because after all, I understood them, so I was surprised when I found I had to repeat my questions a couple of times at JFK Airport as I waited to connect to Buffalo on a domestic flight. The food was obviously different, so I didn’t dare move near it. I just watched it from afar. People seemed friendly. They seemed very curious. They asked a lot of questions. Here’s this young man traveling by himself all the way from Nigeria, never been to the US before, leaving behind his father and his mother and all his siblings.

Sola Osofisan: What was their impression of Nigeria back in those days – and how has that impression changed over the years?

Bukie Adetula: Oh, Nigeria was a country that had a lot of money. There was oil money flowing. There were a lot of Nigerians in the US in various colleges on Federal government scholarships, State government scholarships, various bursary award payments that were being received by students here. The only other country that seemed to be able to compete with Nigerian students in those days was Iran. There was a lot of Iranian oil money also flowing around… a lot of students here on Iranian government scholarships. They used to drive the best cars in those days. They were able to afford the finest looking ladies, they got all the attention. They dressed well.

But we Nigerians then were able to hold our ground. We were perceived as coming from a wealthy country, well taken care of, good upbringing, here to study, here in search of a dream, to capture that dream and take it back to Nigeria to make Nigeria a better place. So, for us, it was all about coming here to get a solid education and then turning around and going home and using that education in a system that we believed had potential to flourish, was growing, was beginning to test the waters of democracy in 1979.

There was optimism. Americans respected us. You didn’t have what we now have these days where every corner you turn there’s some scheme or some scam, some 419 venture by some individual who decides its time to do things that will bring the country’s name down. We didn’t have all those then. I’m not saying it didn’t exist at all, but it wasn’t in the limelight. It was the exception, extreme exception in those days for things like that to happen. We got a lot of respect. Nigerian students were known to do very well in school in those days. We were the best students in the universities.

Sola Osofisan: Has that changed?

Bukie Adetula: Yes and no. And here’s what I mean. I think Nigerian students continue to excel in American institutions today. But what is different about today, when you compare it to 1979, is that the number of Nigerians in school in American institutions has reduced drastically. In short, Nigerians don’t come back here necessarily in pursuit of an education, but rather are coming here in an effort to escape from home. To run away from home, to run into America and make America home.

In those days, Nigerians were coming here with a specific goal in mind: get a solid education and then let’s head back home and let’s go and use it. So the number of Nigerians in institutions has reduced drastically. In those days, every major university in the US had a Nigerian Students Association and was represented. The institution I attended then, State University College at Buffalo, we had at the very minimum, 60-70 Nigerian students at any given time. And that was one institution.

So, that is what has changed. We don’t have that many Nigerians anymore in educational institutions. They come in here, they come in to pursue the dollar, they want to cut through the short cuts, they want to get straight to the money, and they don’t want to pay the dues anymore.

“Nigerians don’t come back here necessarily in pursuit of an education, but rather are coming here in an effort to escape from home”
Bukie Adetula

20 thoughts on “Conversation with Bukie Adetula (1)

  • I'm a nigerian like you,aiming high to achieve great things like you.I've been having the dream of studying abroad for some yeaaars now.I intend studying medical engineering then afterwards proceed to medicine.Even though means of making my dreams come true seems difficult i still hold on to my hope.For this reason i would love to ask for assistance in form of sholarship.This is one investment i know you'll not regret By God's grace.Hoping to heaar from you

  • owloabi olufemi olushola · Edit

    The greatest Bukkie how i wish every body were like you my great regards to the author.i am a second year chemical engineering student at the federal university of technology minna in Nigeria,but things are not very easy that's why I will need ur help.Sir I will be very glad if u can help continue my course of study in America so that my dreams come true.I know you can do it God will continue to help you. owolabi o o, FTC PMB 1434 ILORIN KWARA STATE NIGERIA.Looking forward to hear from you sir. UP BUKIE

  • ishola olutomisin cecilia · Edit

    i'm a nigerian computer science student but applied to southchelsacollege in the uk for my diploma in computer studies and it is 1,200 for a year,but my parents can't afford it.

  • I am a student of one of the Universities in Nigeria with heavy finacial burden.I need a scholarship to pursue my dream course at University of Liverpool i.eAerospace Engineering


    I am in undergraduate student seeking for finiancial aid to study aviation engineering in ukraine, i finished my high school in the year 2003 wgere i obtained my hich school certificate, and i further got a diploma in structured programming with languages d base iv. q basic,visual basic. and computer data processing, right now i have applied to the National Aerospace University in Ukrainekiev '' now i got to the stage of finance to further my education over there to achieve my life goals as an aviation engineer,

    Sir/ma i want you toplaese help me to achieve this, the school fees for each yrar is 1500 USD and the duration of the course is 5 years, sir/ma plaese i know the inconvinences that this might cause but oyu have to hekp me to make he happy in life

    below is my mailing address






    PHONE 2348063325660

  • I am a guy studying geology in university of ado in Ekiti state.i like 2 become one of d best brain in d country b'cos that is my vision which is my mission.i need geology books if u can assist.bye a now.


    I must admit that I am proud of bukie'. He has really given my own defination of success. Well I guess he is among the few lucky ones. I got an admission to study Aeronautics after my diploma in Electrical/Electronics with the hope of securing a scholarship from my state. it was very heart breaking that after they had tossed about demanding I present an admission letter from the expected university knowing the rigores of getting this said admission letter they came up with an excuse that they would not sponsor aeronautics.ANOTHER TALENT denied progress

  • My name is solomon. I am presently studying in an Aviation university in Russia. I major in Aircraft maintenace and Aviation engines. I have been denied a US student visa 5 times for no solid reason and explanation at all….I have lost the scholarship a US college offered me and right now i can not afford to pay my tuition here in Russia.I still wish to transfer to the US to complete my studies in aerospace engineering. I will appreciate if you pass this message to Mr Olubukola Adetula to see how he can assist me.

    I hope to hear from you soon.

  • Mike Omoniyi Oyeleke · Edit

    I need a post graduate scholarship to pursue a Masters degree in Public Relations Advertising and Marketing. I already have a post-graduate Diploma in Public Relations. I intend to go into fulltime political communication for political parties in Africa. I should be grateful to be a reciepient of a German scholarship. Thank you

  • your honors sir!

    Please sir I need scholarship to study abroad.

    I am currently studying medicine and surgery

    in university of Lagos.

    Please keep me informedthanks.

  • To say i am proud of you Mr. Bukie will be understating how i feel about Nigerians like you who are determined to put Nigeria back in the proud position she once occupied. Olorun a wa pelu yin (God be with you).Proudly Nigerian.

  • oboirien gafaru ozoya · Edit

    i am studying aeronautical telecom engineering diploma.because of the discrimination between those with first degree and diploma cert. in the aviation industry i will like to be given any info as regards scholarship for my degree program.

  • Am a final year student of Computer Science in Olabisi Onabanjo University former Ogun State University Ago-iwoye, Ogun State. I have got the zeal to be an highly respected Pilot in the world which i will be going for after my Bsc at Nigerian Aviation School zaria. I would be glad if i can be grant a scholarship to persue this program.

  • Victor Adeniyi Jarrett · Edit

    I quite appreciate you guys as "made Nigerians" and a good role model for aspiring WE to look up to.It would only be complete if your country-men can benefit from you.Many Nigerians'ld like to be an authority in their chosen fields but talk about insufficient funds,lack of basic infrastructural ammenities sugar-iced by Brain Drain,i mean, its pathetic.

    I read Banking and Finance looking for a scholarship to pursue my post-Graduate Studies in a Canadian University,but its never coming,waste of talent u'll call it.

    God don butter your breads,keep the flag flying.

    Victor Adeniyi Jarrett,Lagos, Nigeria

  • My name is solomon. I am presently studying in an Aviation university in Russia. I major in Aircraft maintenace and Aviation engines. I wish to transfer to the US to complete my studies in aerospace engineering for very good reasons which i can not explain here. I will appreciate if you help me with information on how to get a scholarship to study in the US. I hope to hear from you soon.

  • pls i i’d like to obtain scholarship to study here in nig.i am a diploma student of unilag.pls let me know if there is any development.keep inspiring people.good job!weldone

  • Dear Sir/Madam,

    I’m at present a student at the University Of Port Harcourt in Nigeria who is interested in any form of scholarship available. The just read article, i must confess, was an inspiring one. And as a student & future leader of this blessed nation(Nigeria)i learnt one or two things. I want to also use this medium to make it known to you all that your initiative is a wonderful one and we as students are hoping to benefit from whatever comes out from it.Keep representing!!


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