Nigeria needs little or no introduction globally. Yes, often when the word “Nigeria” is mentioned, many negative thoughts spring up. From dishonesty to other criminal activities, very few people have positive thoughts about Nigeria. Absolutely, some criminally minded elements have constantly painted a wrong image of Nigeria, resulting in the unfortunate negative perception of all Nigerians. But despite the bad image, there are very good, hardworking, honest Nigerians. Nigeria is a great country with unbelievably hospitable, incredibly smart, innovative, educated and intelligent people. Unfortunately, the Western media would prefer to constantly portray the negative side of the country at the expense of the positive elements of Nigeria. Time for the Nigerian media to do a better job, perhaps.
Think of the irreplaceable Chinua Achebe, the indomitable Noble prize winner, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Christopher Okigbo, Ben Okri, Buchi Emecheta, Elechi Amadi, J.P. Clark, Amos Tutola, Gabriel Okara, John Munonye, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ola Rotimi, Isidore Okpewho, Zaynab Alkali, Kole Omotosho, T.M. Aluko, Okey Ndibe to mention just a few. Does Nigeria need any introduction to the world literary stage? I doubt that.
Look at various prestigious universities around the world, from Harvard, Stanford, Oxford to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), you hardly can talk about any of these noble academic institutions without mentioning brilliant Nigerian professors and doctor working there. What about hospitals and university teaching institutions? They are full of Nigerian geniuses. Let’s talk about research and other academic awards and innovations globally, they are inseparable from bright Nigerians.
From the USA statistics available, the most educated immigrants in that country are Nigerians. According to the USA Census Bureau data, Nigerian immigrants in the United States are more educated than their white and Asian counterparts. Although Nigerian immigrants are just a minimal portion of the USA population, records show that a huge 17 percent of all Nigerians in the USA have master’s degrees. Furthermore, 4 percent of them have a doctorate while 37 percent have bachelor’s degrees. In comparison, however, with the white population in the USA, 19 percent of white residents have bachelor’s degrees, 8 percent of them, master’s degrees, and a stagnant 1 percent of white residents have doctorates. Next to Nigerian immigrants are Asians added together as a continent. According to the study, 12 percent of the Asian immigrants have master’s degrees and 3 percent of them, doctorates. It is important to make a difference between Nigeria, a country, and Asia as a continent.
During the infamous Nigeria – Biafra war, when the Biafra side could not import ammunitions from the West due to the Western blockage and crippling financial menace, they assembled and encouraged her best scientists to develop virtually all the deadly weapons they used during the war. Necessity, they say, brings invention.
Presently, cars are manufactured (not assembled) in Nnewi, South Eastern part of Nigeria. So are other high tech goods. Interestingly, these multi-billion dollar industries and plants are mostly owned and fully sponsored by individuals without the government financial support.
Does the academic achievement of Nigerians transcend to educational attainment back home in Nigeria? Definitely not. Why is the government of Nigeria not doing anything to encourage home-made car plants? Would not the plants create many needed jobs in Nigeria? Where are the genius Nigerian scientists who showed the world they could compete with the Western world in the area of nuclear science? Good questions, begging for an urgent answer. Nigerian schools are in miserable condition. Sadly, the level and quality of education in Nigeria are depressing. This is where good leadership comes in. In a country where you have no visionary leader, even the brightest geniuses are most likely going to get frustrated. Definitely, Nigeria has very smart potential visionary leaders, but they are brutally frustrated and prevented from ascending to the top by a few powerful elements, who protect their selfish interests above those of the State. Nigeria is a place where ethnicity, nepotism, and religious consciousness come first and over one’s merit. It is a country where the interests of few shrewd selfish cronies come first above patriotism, jingoism and the interests of the country. A country with serious-minded leaders would have gathered all the nuclear scientists, who produced those commendable weapons during the Nigeria-Biafra war and encouraged them financially, morally, academically and otherwise use their expertise to develop the country. But Nigeria, sadly, is not one of those countries.
For sure, Nigeria might have the best brain (negative or positive) in Africa, however, you need an ambitious, far-sighted leader to turn those unique qualities into something positive and advantageous for the country. Unless this is done, Nigeria will continue to experience brain-drain and the negative news about the country, taking the centre stage in the world arena.