Seven Nigerians are reported to have been elected into the United Kingdom’s (UK) parliament. In a society as discerning and sophisticated as the UK, their election is, by any standard, a high profile political opportunity that is available only to quite a few. And for them to have made it to that level is also a recognition of their personal worth and, even more than that, their spectacular contributions to the wellbeing of the community they chose to call home.
These worthy Nigerian politicians include Kate Osamor, Chinyelu Onwurah, Chuka Umunna and Fiona Onasanya. Others are Bim Afolami, Helen Grant and Loukemi Olufunto Badenoch. The development is sure to positively impact on the international image of the country giving, in the process, a massive boost to how Nigeria is seen in the eye of other countries. Earlier in the year, the President of the United States of America, Mr Donald Trump, had appointed Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi into his cabinet as part of a policy and strategy forum. His appointment came a year after President Barack Obama named Adewale Adeyemo as Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics.
The Federal Government sees these remarkable achievements as not only heart-warming but also as a source of inspiration to all Nigerians at home and in the diaspora. Nigeria, as a nation, had suffered from the loss of thousands of highly educated professionals, since the early 1980’s through the notorious brain drain syndrome which became attractive as a result of a down turn in the nation’s socio-economic trend. But that is being repositioned into something to look forward to as the country grapples with the challenges of nation-building which, invariably, demands the involvement of every citizen wherever they may be domiciled.
Today, there is an estimated 15 million Nigerians who live in the diaspora from where they make their own contributions to national growth and development. In addition to their participation in the politics of their host countries, these Nigerians living in the Diaspora provide substantial contributions especially by way of remittances to the economy. From available records, they sent home $21 billion in 2015 to make Nigeria the sixth largest receiver of remittances in the world. Also, in 2016 alone, these same Nigerians sent home $35 billion, an improvement on the diaspora remission of 2015. This is a significant infusion into the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Nigeria is regarded as one of the top 20 developing countries receiving diaspora remittances according to the World Bank. In addition to these transfers, there are several other ways in which members of the Nigerian Diaspora contribute to poverty reduction and development in the homeland.
The Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission has it on record that, each year, more than 2,000 Nigerians trained outside the country in the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Canada, Japan, and China return home to seek employment or business opportunities. Such ‘Diaspora –tapping ‘as it is described, also provides the rationale for the Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Networks Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In the United States, for instance, it is fact that 60 per cent of Nigerians have college degrees a figure considered high above the average even for Americans and these are making their impact felt in all spheres of life in those societies.
Unfortunately, and in spite of these giant strides by Nigerians that are recognised at the highest levels of those societies, the negative perception persists due the activities of a few bad eggs. What the media in those communities see and find news-worthy are a handful of pick-pockets, drug peddlers and such other infinitesimal number of miscreants. The view that the country has some corrupt elements in high and low places, though true, must be explained as a phenomenon not peculiar to her alone. The focus ought to be on the areas listed above in which the citizens of Nigeria are holding their ground in a fiercely competitive world.
In our opinion, it is time the country’s image-makers began to disabuse the mind of those who have vowed not to see anything good in the country and its citizens. The world must be made to appreciate the inexorable point that Nigeria, like every other country of the world, has her own fair share of incorrect characters. Even at that, it has been consistently proved, now and again, that they possess the capacity and capability to contribute their own quota to positive aspirations of the international community. Mrs Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, is also a Nigerian. Professional image- bashers must be compelled to see Nigeria in the bright light her citizens are emitting.