Brain Drain Brain Gain Leveraging the Nigerian Diaspora for the

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					                                  Brain Drain-Brain Gain:
                        Leveraging the Nigerian Diaspora for the
                       Revitalization of Nigerian Higher Education


                                Akanmu Adebayo, Ph.D.
                                  Professor of History
                               Kennesaw State University
                                 Kennesaw, GA 30144

Paper Presented at the 25th Conference of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian
        Universities, held at Osun State University, Osogbo, on April 19-22, 2010

                                     April 14, 2010
                    Not to be used without permission of the author
                                          Brain Drain-Brain Gain:
                                Leveraging the Nigerian Diaspora for the
                               Revitalization of Nigerian Higher Education1

                                            Akanmu G. Adebayo
                                             Professor of History
                                          Kennesaw State University

        One by one, they left Nigerian universities, polytechnics, teaching hospitals, and

research centers. They left government establishments and private sectors. They left from

various parts of Nigeria. One by one, they arrived in Southern Africa, the UK, EU countries,

Canada, and the United States. Some ventured farther afield, to Australia, New Zealand, and

Singapore, but others just did a short hop into Ghana. They joined the consultants and

specialists who had left various Nigerian hospitals for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and other

Middle East countries in the previous decade. Nigerian professionals filled the vacancies in their

new host countries. They took endowed professorships, and received grants to conduct path-

breaking researches that they could not do back in Nigeria. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers

took the necessary board examinations to practice. After the initial homesickness and culture

shock, they settled down in their new homes. They secured good schools for their children.

When the opportunity arose, they pulled one or two or more of their former colleagues from

Nigeria to join them. Small drops turned into small streams. The streams gathered strength and

became a flood. That was the 1990s, and that was the brain drain.

        They left for various reasons. The literature lumped them all together as economic

migrants, or as the new labor migrants thrown up by globalization. They were supposed to be

 I thank the staff of the Consulate-General of Nigeria in Atlanta, especially the Consul-General, Hon. Chudi Okafor,
and the Consul, Dokun Fagbohun, for their assistance with this study.

the transnationals, the new wave of migrant laborers from the least developed areas to

countries that could pay for and utilize their competitive skills. Pay scale in Nigerian universities

has been cited in this analysis. A 2007 survey conducted by the National Universities

Commission (NUC) found that a full professor in Botswana earned $27,000 per annum, in

Namibia between $21,000 and $35,000, and in South Africa between $58,000 and $75,000. In

Nigeria, even with all the adjustments that ASUU was able to negotiate back then, a full

professor still earned about $12,000 per annum in 2006.2 The recent salary figures that resulted

from a four-month strike in 2009 only closed the gap with Namibia.

        Despite this evidence of economic push-and-pull, it is also true that each migrant had

his/her reasons for leaving the homeland. There were political non-conformists who fled

irrational governments; productive scholars who were forced out by their jealous colleagues

and insecure seniors; social critics who fled, with state security agents hot on their tail; tough

graders who were lucky to escape with their life, nearly massacred by cultic students; quiet

scholars outmatched and overshadowed by their more accomplished colleagues; outstanding

scholars who saw their colleagues beaten to death by rioting students; or pastors, babalawos,

and imams that followed these populations to minister to their spiritual needs. In short, they

were not all economic migrants, but they may have been assisted in their migration by labor

mobility arising from the new globalization. This is why turning brain drain to brain gain is a

complex undertaking: one size does not fit all.

 NUC data cited in Munzali Jibril and Abdulkarim Obaje, “Nigeria.” In Higher Education in Africa: the International
Dimension, edited by Damtew Teferra and Jane Knight. Boston and Accra: Center for International Higher
Education and Association of African Universities, 2008, pp. 362-363.

       The drain was severe. It drained hundreds of thousands of professionals out of Nigeria’s

universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, teaching hospitals, and research centers. Many

hospitals were without specialists and consultants. The brain drain left many academic

departments hollow and shallow. In most places the brain drain took the middle and left the

most senior (whom, at OAU Ife, we used to call the “geros” from gerontocrats) and the most

junior scholars. The geros soon retired and the junior scholars, who had received very little

mentoring, were saddled with heavy teaching, departmental leadership, and university

administration. Sometimes the drain took the very top and left many departments leaderless.

Two decades later the impacts of the brain drain are still being felt, with many departments in

Nigeria’s top universities without a professor. Another aspect of the brain drain was that many

of those who had gone for their doctorates abroad chose to stay put, hired by the same

institutions that trained them.

       In many ways, the result of the brain drain on academic life has been both ironic and

distressing. Take the African Studies discipline, for example. By the 1990s, the best centers of

African Studies were in the UK, Europe, and North America and, possibly, Sothern Africa but not

elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa; the best institutions for Ph.D. programs in African Studies are

abroad, in the West, not in Africa. African scholars in Africa were reduced to serving as research

assistants to their counterparts in the West or, at best, they were invited to what I would call

“legitimation seminars” where they (African scholars) were to provide “testimonies” to validate

incoherent and obnoxious theories being developed in the West, parts of a neo-liberal assault

on Africa. Before long, almost all Nigerian social scientists had been converted into Afro-

pessimists.3 The leading journals in the discipline were not in Africa but abroad, many with

Afro-pessimist agenda. Nigerian universities even bought into this power game; they required

that their lecturers list and submit foreign publications in order to be promoted. The brain drain

had shifted power relations between African and Africanist scholars in the African Studies

discipline. Top-rated African scholars have now found it acceptable to be invested with the

decoration “Africanist” when, two decades ago, that would have been seen as an insult.

        The brain drain affected different institutions differently. The most visible impact has

been in the teaching hospitals, because the health of the citizenry was immediately affected.

The older, federal universities seemed to have suffered the most. In addition to those who

migrated abroad, the newer, private universities—themselves facing personnel crisis—also

lured several lecturers away from what was left. Altogether, the brain drain affected all higher

education institutions (HEIs). According to Jibril and Obaje, “Only about 36% of the required

number of academic staff for Nigerian universities are actually on the ground, the rest having

migrated to Southern Africa, the Middle East, or the Western industrialized countries.” 4

        Governments abroad and international organizations recognized the impact of the brain

drain on developing countries like Nigeria, but they too were benefiting from the top quality

professionals that the brain drain, along with other forces of globalization, delivered at their

establishments’ doorsteps. Many spouses and relatives in developing areas bemoaned the

separation and absence of their loved ones, but they too were accepting and eagerly

anticipating the financial remittances from the diaspora.

  It should be stated that many became Afro-pessimists also out of frustration with the bad news coming out of
Africa: genocide, political and ethnic intolerance, war and pestilence, etc.
  Munzali Jibril and Abdulkarim Obaje, “Nigeria,” p.362.

           It is important to pause here and examine the tone in many writings on the brain drain.

The tone tends to depict the diaspora event as something regrettable, hence the name “brain

drain.” Yet, it is also known historically that diasporas have laid the foundation for the rise and

development of new centers of civilizations and power. How could we discuss the history of the

Middle East and North Africa without the post-Islamic Arab diasporas created in the 7th through

the 10th centuries? How complete would the history of the United States, Australia and Latin

America be without the European diasporas? Or, how would we have come up with the term

“diaspora” without understanding the spread of the Jews from Palestine to Europe and back?

And, as Rev. Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem reminds us:

           For the most part, it was the historical events in the Europe of the 16th to 17th
           centuries—notably the paucity of good governance—that forced most
           Europeans of the time into the diaspora in what became the New World and
           eventually into the emergence of the United States of America, the world’s
           strongest and wealthiest country.5

           Indeed, with historical hindsight, it is hard to contemplate the end of World War II and

the subsequent reconstruction of Europe without the role of these diasporas in the United

States. And, with the same historical foresight, it is important to tone down the negativity often

associated with the brain drain and see a future when the hope of Africa would lie in its


           In fact, after two decades of the diaspora event, the language has begun to shift. Home

governments, universities, polytechnics, and hospitals began looking for ways they, too, might

tap into the resource base of the diaspora. They began looking into ways to turn brain drain

into brain gain. International organizations began to see in the diaspora’s significant expertise,

    Rev. Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem, personal communication, April 13, 2010.

normative values and social capital that could benefit developing countries and that they could

tap into for nationally authentic and culturally appropriate corps of consultants. Those who had

left, members of the diaspora themselves, began to explore avenues for social remittances in

addition to monetary remittances.

       Today, the mantra seems to be “turning brain drain into brain gain.” But this raises a

number of questions. What are the processes, possibilities, and constraints to turning brain

drain into brain gain? What is the state of Nigerian universities and other HEIs today? What can

the Diaspora contribute to revitalize the Nigerian HEIs? How can these contributions be

properly channeled? In other words, how can HEIs leverage the diaspora for their revitalization,

renewal and regeneration? This paper provides answers to some of these questions.

       The paper has four parts. The first examines the Nigerian diaspora and puts the brain

drain in contexts of political instability at home and globalization and labor mobility in the

world. The second examines the remittances of the Nigerian diaspora, like other African

diasporas, in the context of social and institutional obligations. The third part examines

intellectual remittances as a sub-set of social remittances. There are many aspects of

intellectual remittances. For the purposes of this conference, the paper only examines the role

of the Nigerian diaspora in the development of Nigerian higher education, interrogating such

activities and diaspora-initiated and diaspora-led international partnerships, collaborative

research, joint conferences, joint publication, collaborative thesis supervision and examination,

and so on. The last part contains my recommendations.

                                The Nigerian Diaspora and Brain Drain

           The African Union defines the African Diaspora as “peoples of African origin living

outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to

contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” 6 Based

on this definition and on the estimated numbers of people African descent in Europe (3.51

million), North America (39.16 million), Latin America (112.65 million), and the Caribbean

(13.56 million), the AU categorized the African Diaspora as constituting the “sixth region” of


           The AU’s approach to the Diaspora is broad and historical, as it should be. However, this

paper refers to the modern disapora (i.e., post-1945). This Diaspora is no less historical, just

more recent. Nor, for that matter, is the definition offered by G. Scheffer entirely accurate. In a

widely influential study published in 1986, Scheffer defines modern Diasporas as “ethnic

minority groups of migrant origins residing and acting in host countries but maintaining strong

sentimental and material links with their countries of origin—their homelands.”8 The problem

with this definition is the tribal, ethno-religious connotations. While it is true that many

Nigerian and African migrants belonged to specific ethnic groups, and often associate in the

host countries along those ethnic lines, their migration was not determined by membership in

an “ethnic minority group.” Most were economic migrants, not ethnic migrants. Perhaps the

best definition I have seen on the subject is the simple one offered by the Nigerians in Diaspora

  “The African Diaspora.” Retrieved from on February 12,
   Beldina Auma, “African Diaspora Program,” September 2009. Retrieved from on
February 12, 2010.
  G. Scheffer, Modern Diasporas in International Politics. London: Croom Helm, 1986.

(NIDOA): “Nigerians in Diaspora are Nigerians who live outside of Nigeria. We have them in

almost every country in the world.”9

        Indeed, Nigerians can be found in almost every country. But what are their numbers?

There are official figures, and there are unofficial estimates. Although federal and state

governments in the United States conduct excellent census (one is currently under way) and

keep immigration records, the official numbers are not totally reliable. A source estimates the

population of Nigerians in the United States as follows:

        As of 2004, up to 3.24 million Nigerians were in the United States alone…Some
        174,000 were information technology professionals, 202,000 were medical and
        allied professionals, about 50,000 were engineers, and another 250,000 were
        professionals in other areas, including university lecturers…only about 20% of
        sub-Saharan Africans educated abroad return home; the remaining 80% stayed
        on in the country of study.10

        However, Georgia’s official figures are revealing. Available census data divide Georgia’s

population into “native-born” and “foreign born” of which regional subdivisions are along

continental lines. The data11 show that the share of the foreign-born in Georgia’s total

population (2008: 9,685,744) has been increasing: from 2.7 percent in 1990 to 7.1 percent in

2000 and to 9.4 in 2008. This is a reflection of the trend nationally: 7.9 percent of the total

population in 1990, 11.1 percent in 2000, and 12.5 percent in 2008. The proportion of Africa-

born population in Georgia’s foreign-born population increased annually. In 1990, there were

10,973 Africa-born people in Georgia, representing 6.6 percent of the foreign-born population.

These rose to 40,423 (7.0 percent) in 2000, and to 80,629 (8.9 percent) in 2008. The table

below shows the breakdown of the 2008 figures by regions of Africa. Compared with the top

9                      st
  “Assets in Diaspora,” 1 October 2007. Daily Times Publication, 2007, p. 220.
   Munzali Jibril and Abdulkarim Obaje, “Nigeria,” p.362.
   Migration Policy Institute,

countries (31.0 percent born in Mexico, 5.9 percent in India, and 5.0 percent in Korea), the

figures for African immigrants are small. But the proportion of professionals in the African

immigrant population are considered comparatively much higher than average.

           Metropolitan Atlanta figures tow these official lines. Available figures are for the year

2000, when Nigerians in the Atlanta metropolitan area (13 counties) were officially 8,070,

ranking Nigeria 11th overall (behind Mexico, India, Vietnam, Korea, China, Jamaica, United

Kingdom, Canada, Colombia, Germany) but first among African nations.12

Africans in Georgia, 2008

                                  Population               % in Georgia’s Foreign-Born Population
Georgia’s foreign born population 910,473                  100
Born in Africa                    80,629                   8.9
    Eastern Africa                18,807                   2.1
    Northern Africa               4,635                    0.5
    Western Africa                41,241                   4.5
    Central and Southern Africa   9,336                    1.0
    Africa, n.e.c.                46,610                   0.7

Source:   Migration    Policy   Institute. Retrieved    on    April                      2,    2010      from

           NIDOA, however, also maintains its own estimates. The organization estimates13 that

there are currently 3.6 million Nigerians in the United States, and NIDOA is in the process of

breaking this number down by gender and ethnicity. Anecdotal evidence indicates that there

are more males than females, and more from the southern than the northern states of the

federation. NIDOA also estimates that at least 500,000 are academic professionals. In

metropolitan Atlanta alone, where NIDOA began in 2000, there is an estimated 17,000

     “Global Atlanta Snapshots—Nigeria,” Atlanta Regional Commission.
     Victor Ugbo, Vice Chairman of NIDOA Board of Directors, personal interview, Atlanta, April 1, 2010.

Nigerians, down from about 20,000 three years ago. Of this number, 2,000 are estimated to be

academic professionals—academic staff in universities, doctors, attorneys, etc. No hospital

would function in Atlanta area, or in any part of the United States for that matter, without

Nigerian healthcare workers: doctors, nurses, nurse aids, therapists, laboratory technicians, etc.

        This, then, is the brain drain. Different African countries experienced the brain drain

phenomenon at different times and to different degrees, but the impacts have been similar. It

has been said that, altogether, the developing world lost at least a third of its professionals to

the developed world. It has also been said, arguably, that these were the best “brains” from

these countries. In a study of the African Diasporas in Europe, the North-South Center of the

Council of Europe surmised that smaller, dysfunctional countries lost more than politically

stable countries.14 In any case, it may be unfair to think that the ones who emigrated were the

only “best minds” because of the implication of such thoughts on those that remained.

        Moreover, there was brain drain and there was “brain death,” the latter being where

professionals emigrated but couldn’t find jobs in their profession. According to the North-South

Center study, a concrete example is a significant number of Africans, such as engineers,

accountants, and lawyers, who end up performing jobs “far below their qualification and

intellectual capacity. They become taxi drivers or perform poorly paid manual jobs in working

conditions that are far from congenial, and thereby become de-skilled.”15 Many Nigerians were

in this category; many of the taxi drivers who service the Atlanta airport hold higher degrees,

and there could be Ph.D. degree holders among them.

   North-South Center, “Social Remittances of the African Diaspora in Europe: Case Studies of Netherlands and
Portugal,” North-South Center of the Council of Europe, n.d.
   North-South Center, Social Remittances,” p.16.

          President Olusegun Obasanjo probably struck a balance in articulating the relative

significance of the brain drain and the professionals who remained at home. In a speech he

delivered at the inaugural conference in Atlanta that produced NIDOA, President Obasanjo


          Many of our best men and women, for lack of opportunity and challenge at
          home, have had to work outside our shores. We should challenge them to return
          by putting in place the conducive atmosphere and the tools, with which they will
          be able to give this country the full benefit of their education, training and
          experience. I recognize that just as there are good and bright Nigerians abroad,
          there have remained many at home who have persevered. I salute them and
          assure them that their sacrifice, perseverance and tenacity will be recognized
          and rewarded by a grateful nation.16

          The history of Nigerians in Diaspora is not yet written. However, there have been

studies of several aspects of this history, including those that have examined Nigerian religious

movements in the Diaspora;17 hometown, ethnic and old student associations in the Diaspora;18

and remittances by members of the Nigerian Diaspora to the home country.19 But the history of

Nigerians in Diaspora is begging to be written. There are unique, individual stories and

experiences that must be recorded for posterity.

   Olusegun Obasanjo, cited in “Assets in Diaspora,” p.220
   See Jacob Olupona and Regina Gemignani, Eds. African Immigrant Religions in America. New York: NYU Press,
   See Hakeem Tijani, “Forging a Link: Diaspora Development Activities for the Homeland: The Case of Eko Club
International,” Journal of Global Initiatives, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2008; Ola Uduku, “The Socioeconomic Basis of a Diaspora
Community: Igbo Bu Ike,” Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 29, No. 92, Africa, the African Diaspora and
Development (June, 2002), pp. 301-311; Lilian Trager, “Home-town Linkages and Local Development in
Southwestern Nigeria: Whose Agenda? What Impact?” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 68,
No. 3, The Politics of Primary Patriotism (1998), pp. 360-382.
   See Una Okonkwo Osili, “Migrants and Housing Investments: Theory and Evidence from Nigeria,” Economic
Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 52, No. 4 (July, 2004), pp. 821-849; Rachel R. Reynolds, “An African Brain
Drain: Igbo Decisions to Immigrate to the US,”Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 29, No. 92, Africa, the
African Diaspora and Development (June, 2002), pp. 273-284; Stuart R. Brown, “Can Remittances Spur
Development? A Critical Survey,” International Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 1 (March, 2006), pp. 55-75; Ralph Chami,
Connel Fullenkamp and Samir Jahjah, “Are Immigrants Remittance Flows a Source of Capital for Development?”
IMF Staff Papers, Vol. 52, No. 1 (2005), pp. 55-81.

       For this study, I have attempted a sociological categorization, rather than historical

evaluation, of the Nigerian diaspora. It is, perhaps, overlooked that while the number of those

who fit the description of “Nigerians in Diaspora” is large, in fact they are an endangered

species. There are two categories; for each we adopt a Yoruba term. The first category is the

afeserin, meaning those who literally walked into their host countries. In the literature, they are

known as first generation immigrants. This can be broken down into afeserin agba and afeserin

ewe; the former was raised and educated in Nigeria, and the latter was raised but had only a

part of their education or none of it in Nigeria. In most cases, the afeserin ewe migrated in

company of their parents. The afeserin agba know and practice Nigerian culture and language,

have emotional and physical ties to the country, and make frequent visits to Nigeria. The

afeserin ewe know very little of the culture and language, and most have never returned.

       The second category of Nigerians in Diaspora is the aforirin. They are the second

generation immigrants, born in the host country and affected by citizenship laws of the country

of birth. By virtue of the dual citizenship rights conferred by the Nigerian Constitution, they are

Nigerians abroad, born to Nigerian parents. They are easily identified by their Nigerian names

and looks. (I see many them in my classes.) They have been raised under completely different

cultural milieu. They know very little about Nigeria, speak none of Nigerian languages or do so

with a heavy accent, and are not versed in Nigerian cultural etiquettes. Although members of

the afeserin ewe and the aforirin are often included among the Nigerians in Diaspora data, their

consciousness and sympathies are quite different from those of the afeserin agba category. The

afeserin agba generation is passionate, impatient with the pace of progress in Nigeria, but

getting old and tired; the afeserin ewe and aforirin generations are young, vibrant, but clueless

about or embarrassed by goings on in Nigeria. Like any typology, these categories have

exceptions and fringe elements. The one scientific value to the typology is that not all Nigerians

in Diaspora are alike. To write a comprehensive history of Nigerians in Diaspora, therefore,

these various categories must be interviewed.

        Organization among Nigerians in Diaspora can best be described as “organized chaos.”

There are many associations and organizations, networks and groups. Most of these are ethnic

in nature, but others are hometown associations, old student associations, professional

associations and women’s organizations. Religious organizations are many and active. Indeed,

almost all Nigeria’s major evangelical denominations are represented in the Diaspora. The

Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which also maintains a good website, has more

than 25 branches in Atlanta, and over 500 branches nationwide.20 Many Nigerians do not

belong to any organization or association in a formal sense, but most have participated in social

and fundraising activities of one association or another. In addition, many associations were

first established as, or later added, Christian fellowship or esusu contribution society. The esusu

societies actually appeal to other African and Caribbean immigrants.

        While Nigerians in the diaspora recognized the value of a pan-Nigerian organization,

many factors made this impossible until the creation of NIDOA in 2001. One unfortunate factor

was ethnicity; many Nigerians carried ethnic rather than national consciousness across the

Atlantic. Another factor was class. Often, the class barriers go up as well as down. Taking the

   While government-funded universities have generally avoided direct fundraising from the diaspora, private
universities have started to tap into this resource. At the RCCG North America Convention in 2009, for instance,
the VC of Redeemer’s University spoke, updated participants about the university, and encouraged parishioners to
consider sending their children to Redeemer’s University either for an entire degree program or for a year or two
of study. This innovative recruitment of “foreign” students by Redeemer’s University, a tuition-paying institution,
translates into funding solicitation from the diaspora. Indeed, it is quite exemplary; other institutions should
consider the strategy.

healthcare profession for example, a doctor might not want to associate with a nurse, and a

nurse might find it demeaning to associate with a nurse aid (CNA). Yet another factor was time.

The time factor may be the most significant; given their schedules, many just do not have the

time to attend meetings, read or write minutes of meetings, or carry out tasks between

meetings. Recognizing the near-impossibility of a Nigerian national organization in the

Diaspora, many cities hammered together a federation or an umbrella organization to help

disseminate significant pieces of information—like when Consulate officials would be in their

city to renew passports. In Georgia, for instance, the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in

Georgia (ANOG), was established making it perhaps the first state-wide federation. In its 2010

strategic plan, ANOG lists 21 organizations as members. Among them are Egbe Omo Yoruba

Greater Atlanta, Eko Club, Igbo Union, Nigerian Nurses Association, Nigerian Women

Association of Georgia, to mention a few.

       Something akin to a pan-Nigerian organization in Diaspora, NIDOA, eventually emerged

in 2001. For an event this significant, there is bound to be several narratives. The mainstream

narrative was that it was the brainchild of President Olusegun Obasanjo, which was actively

pursued by Hon. Joe Keshi, the Consul-General at the time. Keshi worked with many Nigerians

to organize the first conference of Nigerians in Diaspora in September 2000, attended by over

2,000 people and delegates. In October 2001, NIDOA was formally inaugurated in Washington,

D.C. More will be said about NIDOA’s activities later in this paper.

       It is pertinent to add here that the figures of Nigerians in Diaspora are beginning to see a

decline. According to Victor Ugbo, this is due to a reverse of the brain drain. In his view, many

Nigerians are returning home, or are half-way there, splitting their time between sojourn at

home and sojourn abroad. Many factors are responsible for this return. They include the

economic downturn in the West (United States, UK, and Europe), improving economic situation

in Nigeria, and success of some of NIDOA initiatives.21 We will return to this “return” later.

Meanwhile, let us address the contribution of the Diaspora to the home country.

                                       Monetary and Social Remittances

              Remittances have long been recognized as a valuable asset of transnationalism, a clear

product of brain drain, and one of the reasons family members would tolerate migration and

physical absence of their loved ones. To most people, disapora remittances refer to money

transfers from migrants to their relatives or friends in their countries of origin, but remittances

are not monetary transfers alone. Scholars and policy makers have recognized other equally

important remittances that, collectively, are referred to as “social remittances.”

              First, let us focus on monetary remittances. Governments and international finance

companies and organizations, especially the World Bank, have been tracking the volume,

direction, and trends of remittances. In its 2005 report entitled Global Development Finance

2005, the World Bank observed that “workers’ remittances provide valuable financial resources

to developing countries, particularly the poorest.”22 As these remittances continued to trend

upward, the Bank launched the African Diaspora Program in September 2007 focusing on three

main areas:

       i.        diaspora policy formulation and development;
       ii.       finance, the leveraging of remittances for development;
       iii.      human capital utilization, known as “brain drain-brain gain” programs

     Victor Ugbo, Vice Chairman of NIDOA Board of Directors, personal interview, Atlanta, April 1, 2010.

           By way of implementing this program in 2008-2009, the World Bank placed emphasis on

three main areas: establishing a strong partnership with the AU on Diaspora development;

working with and supporting governments to enable them engage with the Diasporas, and

directly engaging with Diaspora organizations and professional networks to implement human

capital development projects. In particular, the World Bank partnered with the AU through an

Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grant for which it provided $480,000 to support the AU’s

Representational Office in the US to strengthen its outreach to members of the African

Diaspora in the Americas. The main objective of the World Bank has been, through these

initiatives, to enable the Diasporas to contribute to higher education and health institutions in

Africa—hence “reversing and building on brain-drain constraints to become brain-gain


Remittances to African Countries in 2005

Countries       $ million   % of GDP
Egypt           5,017       5
Morocco         4,589       9
Nigeria         3,329       4
Kenya           524         3

Source: World Bank; Maureen Kimani-Lucas, CAPafrique, October 2007, Retrieved from February 22, 2010

Remittances to African Countries, 2007

Countries       Estimated Amount
Nigeria         $3.3 billion
Kenya           $1.3 billion
Senegal         $0.9 billion

     Beldina Auma, “African Diaspora Program”

Proportion of Remittances to ODA in Nigeria

Years Amount $ billion Percent of ODA
1995 3.1               80
2007 18.5              750

Source: Taipei Times, January 30, 2010, p. 9

           Let us now turn to social remittances. According to Peggy Levitt, there are three types of

social remittances: normative structure, systems of practice, and social capital. The North-South

Center also opined that “normative structures are ideas, values and beliefs…systems of practice

are the actions created by normative structures…and social capital consists of social networks

and associated norms that have an effect on the productivity of a community.”24 Much has

been written on social capital. Nigerians are a friendly people; wherever they live, they form

connections and networks that could be tapped as a resource. Normative values are values that

immigrants consciously or unconsciously pick up from their host culture, such as work ethic,

friendly customer service (“the customer is always right,” smile even when the answer is “no”),

forward planning, volunteerism, giving, practical application of knowledge (not just theory), and

especially being on time. Although many Nigerians still live and work by “Nigerian time”

especially in social settings, the requirement to be on time for work and other official

assignments is among the first normative cultural values that Nigerian immigrants encounter

and learn.

           Taken together, monetary and social remittances make the Diaspora a major resource

for the development of the home country. In fact, the United Nations, the World Bank, and

other international organizations have recognized the potential for the Diaspora to contribute

     North-South Center, pp.7-8.

to the political and institutional development of developing countries. And, in the words of the

North-South Center, the African Disapora constitutes “one of Africa’s greatest offshore assets

because of its considerable human capital.”25 Many scholars have started to ask lending

institutions to factor in the size of financial and social remittances as a factor in calculating a

country’s credit worthiness and debt forgiveness.26

        Nigerians in diaspora have also built enormous transnational networks—among

themselves, and between them and their host countries. These networks can be harnessed for

development, and have indeed begun to help in transmitting valuable political ideas, best

practices, and technology from their host countries.27 African governments and institutions

have an urgent need for its Diasporas’ social remittances, just as families and relatives need the

diasporas’ monetary remittances. While there are recognized, formal channels of transmitting

monetary remittances, social remittances are currently transferred in an “ad hoc, limited and

sporadic manner.”28 This needs to change in order to make social remittances effective and

sustainable. According to the North-South Center study,

        [T]he current pathways used by the diaspora need to be professionalised,
        strengthened and enlarged so as to become efficient routes of transmitting
        knowledge, know-how, expertise and networks in Africa. They also need to be
        recognized, valued and formally used by government institutions and the
        mainstream development organizations in the host country.29

   North-South Center, p.8.
   See Dilip Ratha, Sanket Mohapatra, Sonia Plaza, “Beyond Aid: New Sources and Innovative Mechanisms for
Financing Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.” The World Bank, Development Prospects Group, Migration and
Remittances Team. WPS4609. April 2008.
   One major diseconomy for social capital has been the advance fee fraud, alias “419,” for which Nigeria has
become notorious. While the current re-branding efforts might help, more significant steps must be taken to not
only improve Nigeria’s image but to also bring those known “yahoo, yahoo” criminals to book.
   North-South Center, p.20.
   North-South Center, p20.

                             Social Remittances: The Diaspora Giving Back

        To understand and appreciate diaspora contributions, we must first articulate the state

of the Nigerian HEIs. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the state of African

universities in the twenty-first century.30 Most of these studies point to the low resource base,

poor infrastructure, isolation from the stock of knowledge (hence, the knowledge gap), and the

impact of the brain drain. As part of the present study, I asked several interviewees to comment

on the state of African universities today. Most commented that universities were in “critical”

and “poor” state: that many universities were “struggling,” that there was “low morale among

the staff,” that in infrastructure “many so-called universities were worse than middle schools in

America,” and that many institutions are characterized by “huge class sizes” and “lack of

resources.” Others answered with empathy, stating that “African universities are becoming

more comprehensive in terms of diversity of programs being of offered,” but “faculty strength

needs improvement with infusion of ‘new blood’.” The most comprehensive answer, quoted

below, is about Kenya’s universities but many of the issues apply to universities in other African

countries, including Nigeria:

        African universities, in most cases, can compete with other top universities
        around the world. A case in point—Makerere University in Uganda—has
        consistently been ranked among the top universities in Africa and has different
        colleges such as a School of Medicine, Public Health, Business among others. The
        same applies to University of Cape Town. As relates to Kenyan public
        universities, gross mismanagement, low faculty morale, faculty influx to overseas
        universities, government interference, among other factors, have reduced once
        academic giants. . . to academic shells. The deterioration of Kenyan public
        universities has given rise to private universities that serves the privileged few

  See the two-volume work edited by Paul T. Zeleza and Adebayo Olukoshi: African Universities in the Twenty-First
Century, (Volume 1: Liberalization and Internationalization), (Volume 2: Knowledge and Society). Dakar: CODESRIA
and University of South Africa Press, 2004.

        who can afford the high costs. Some of the private universities that crop up do
        not always compare in quality to the ‘higher-end’ private universities [abroad].31

        No one could better understand the state of Nigerian universities than the participants

at this conference. As vice chancellors, faculty deans, department heads and center and

institute directors, you face the challenges on a daily basis, manage scarce resources, and

attempt to close the knowledge gap that currently exists between your institutions and those of

the West and Asia. I hope you would agree that much needs to be done in the following areas:

curriculum development; faculty/staff development, training, re-tooling; quality assurance,

evaluation of learning and teaching; strategic planning and goal setting; improvement of

institutional climate and work environment; infrastructural development in laboratories,

libraries, instructional technology; fundraising; and alumni relations.

        According to published data from the NUC, NBTE, and NCCE, Nigeria has hundreds of

HEIs. Current information from the NUC website lists 104 universities of which 27 were federal,

36 state, and 41 private. Most of the private universities were established in the last five

years.32 The NBTE website lists hundreds of polytechnics, monotechnics and technical colleges.

There are 71 polytechnics, of which 21 are federal, 38 state and 12 private. 33 The NCCE website

lists 63 colleges of education, of which 21 are federal, 38 state, and 4 private. 34 It is not clear

how up-to-date these data are. However, even without the brain drain, adequately staffing

these institutions would still have been a challenge.

   Catherine Odera, personal interview, Kennesaw, March 31, 2010.
   “Universities.” Retrieved from on April 7, 2010
   “Approved Polytechnics in Nigeria.” Retrieved from on April 7, 2010.
   “Nigerian Colleges of Education.” Retrieved from on April 7, 2010.

           The hope of these HEIs, as well as the Nigerian governments, is for the diasporas to

come back home to staff these institutions and contribute their expertise, skills and experiences

to national development. Some will do that, and a few have actually returned. Many members

of the afeserin agba category of migrants are getting old and are either retired or in the process

doing so. As grandparents, some are getting to that age when top priorities are given to what to

do after retirement and where to spend their final days on this earth. For those who want to

“die at home,” the urge to return is very strong. Others are being forced to return by family

situations. African higher education institutions would do well to engage the “returnees” in

fruitful forms of interaction, including full-time or part-time appointments, consulting in

administration and quality assurance, and occasional lectures.

           However, rather than return, most members of the diaspora will be interested in

assisting African universities, especially the ones from which they graduated, from the comfort

of their current host countries. Catherine Odera puts it succinctly thus:

           I think African Diaspora should assist the African universities to an extent. The
           question to think about is what this assistance would translate to given the many
           external factors that hinder progress in universities in countries such as Kenya. I
           personally feel responsible for helping Kenyan universities, in particular Kenyatta
           University (KU). The main reason is that KU is my Alma Mater and as an alumnus,
           I would naturally want to give back. More on a selfish reason, helping KU
           maintain an excellent academic reputation authenticates my Bachelor of
           Education degree for years to come.35

           Several others in the diaspora question the rationale for and the modalities of

assistance. The main issue is sustainability. In addition, assistance often does not address “the

real issues,” and it “perpetuates a form of dependency that leads nowhere.”36

     Catherine Odera, personal interview, Kennesaw, March 31, 2010
     Oumar Diop, personal interview, Kennesaw, April 2, 2010

           Over the years, different forms of assistance have been provided, often on an ad hoc

basis, with varying degrees of success and sustainability. One low-hanging fruit is donation:

donation of books, computers, and hospital equipment. The biggest name in book donation to

African countries is appropriately named “Books for Africa” program,37 which has a nationwide

operation In addition to individual gifts, the organization takes book donations directly from

publishers for delivery to various schools and colleges in Africa. A Nigerian college—Saint

Martin De Porres Girls’ College—is listed among the recipients. With Tom Gitaa, publisher of

Mshale Newspaper, as president, the Books for Africa program lists other publishers on its

board of directors and promises to end the “book famine” through a simple process: “collect,

sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa.”

           At Kennesaw State University, one of my colleagues, Dr. Solomon Negash, originally

from Ethiopia, has been engaged in a similar mission but operated locally in Atlanta. For over

ten years his NGO, Bethany Foundation, collected books and shipped them to Ethiopia, where

they were distributed to various universities. In 2004, for instance, he filled a 40-foot trailer

with 15,000 to 18,000 books collected mainly at KSU. Altogether, he has shipped 15 similar

containers to Ethiopia for a total of 450,000 to 500,000 books, all distributed to Ethiopian

universities. Negash is very passionate about this, and he believes very strongly that the book

donation program adds value and strengthens connections across the oceans. 38 On a smaller

scale, but no less significant, Dr. Ikechukwu Ukeje, focused on education books. He collected

scores of boxes of books and delivered them to the Faculties of Education at University of

     Books for Africa at
     Solomon Negash, personal interview, April 8, 2010.

Ibadan, University of Jos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Book donations are good; access to

online databases seem to be the way of the future.

           In equipment donation, the biggest name is probably Medshare, whose mission is stated

thus: “MedShare is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare and the

environment through the efficient recovery and redistribution of the surplus of medical

supplies and equipment to those most in need.”39 Medshare has received over $65 million

worth of life-saving equipments and supplies from hospitals and corporations and has shipped

more than 500 forty-foot containers to 80 countries, including Nigeria. Medshare has no

complicated rules: you identify the equipment and supplies you need, pay for only the shipping,

and they are yours. Among recipients listed are Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (2004),

Lagos University Teaching Hospital (2006), Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (2007), and

several shipments to National Hospital Abuja in 2006. Other NGOs created by Nigerians in

diaspora have been involved in hospital equipment donation.

           Despite these success stories, it must still be emphasized that no university or hospital

can be built solely on book and equipment donation. Although it is painful to watch perfectly

good books or supplies, only a year or two old, go to waste in Western countries, and although

colleagues feel like these books and supplies should still be serving some students and patients

elsewhere, book and equipment donations smack of dumping. Many agree that

book/equipment donation is a good idea but only as a temporary measure. In Nurudeen

Akinyemi’s words, “computers become outdated, printers need expensive inks and cartridges,

books need updating, etc. How many can be donated to really make a difference and for how

     See Medshare at

long?” Ultimately, he adds, “the universities must raise funds through private donors, student

fees, and/or government funding to support the type of volume and quality necessary to

sustain the teaching and research mission of universities.” And when one decides to collect and

donate books, one finds that they are “usually expensive to mail and limited by weight

restrictions if taken as accompanying luggage on aircrafts.”40 Although he would do it, Victor

Ugbo likens book donation to a drop of good water in a pool of polluted water: that drop is

immediately corrupted by the bad.41

        Instead of book/equipment donation, some have suggested other forms of assistance

that the diaspora might provide to universities in the home country. These include:

            seek opportunities for collaborative research and publication with
            counterparts in African universities
            identify resources for faculty training and faculty development from
            universities in Africa, short-term or long-term, as in the case of further
            graduate education
            help create avenues for faculty capacity building through exchanges and links
            identify and offer teaching resources—example, open source materials, DVD,
            access to online databases, etc.
            offer to teach at subsidized rates or for free in African universities, especially
            during summer—for graduate and specialized programs in particular, where
            internal resources are limited
            create a consortium of experienced diaspora African faculty who can assist
            with facilitating graduate education in African universities by serving as thesis
            reviewers, co-supervisors, etc.42

        Altogether, there is a general goodwill in the diaspora for social remittances. There are

constraints as well. The most debilitating of these constraints are financial, organizational, and

the challenge of relevance. Opinions are divided on many of these. For instance, on

   Nurudeen Akinyemi, personal communication, Kennesaw, April 1, 2010.
   Victor Ugbo, personal interview, Atlanta, April 1, 2010
   Sam Abaidoo, personal interview, Kennesaw, March 31, 2010.

organizational constraints, many distrust the government would prefer to offer assistance

outside governmental channels. On the other hand, some would like the government to be

involved, to treat the diaspora with the same respect and deference with which they have

treated donor agencies from abroad. Financially, despite the wrong impression from monetary

remittances, many in the diaspora are just struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Most are

simple, law-abiding, salary earners. They do not own their own businesses and they have no

sources of extra revenue. Their disposable income is limited. They may be able to call on their

social network to raise a few thousand dollars, but development assistance costs more than

that. But perhaps the most significant constraint is ignorance. Many want to give but do not

know what or how. Nurudeen Akinyemi explains that the ignorance is on the part of the

Nigerian diaspora and the Nigerian universities. He elaborates: In order “for any assistance to

have the desired impact, the universities must identify exactly what they need and where.”43

           Instead of “assistance,” therefore, the initiation and facilitation of international

partnerships between higher education institutions in Nigeria and abroad are probably the

biggest and most sustainable form of social remittance from the diaspora. The story of

Kennesaw State University’s international partnerships in Africa is relevant here. With as many

as twenty faculty from various African countries, four of them from Nigeria, the diaspora is

well-represented in this suburban Atlanta university. This population served as an interested

group that impressed it upon the university administration the advantages of linkages with

African institutions. This was pursued during the mid-1990s, leading to the signing of the first

partnership agreement with University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana, in 1998. The success of the

     Nurudeen Akinyemi, personal interview, April 1, 2010.

KSU-UCC agreement, along with individual contacts in other countries, promoted the extension

of this initiative to other African countries. By 2010, KSU has entered into partnership

agreements with 14 African universities,44 four of them in Nigeria. KSU is also informally

working with several others.

         KSU’s linkages with Nigerian universities enjoyed a boost. In fact, a Chronicle of Higher

Education article made the University of Ibadan-KSU partnership the subject of an exposé

published in December 2009.45 That linkage began in 2001 when Dr. Olutayo Adesina and I met

in Ghana and discussed ways in which our institutions might work together to promote a

healthy international partnership. We followed up this initial contact with an exchange of

visit—he to KSU in 2002, and a delegation of KSU administrator and faculty to UI in 2003.

Subsequently, a linkage agreement was negotiated and signed in 2004. Academic staff

exchanges began immediately after the signing of the partnership agreement. By 2009, eight

academic staff from University of Ibadan’s Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education have

completed a semester each at KSU, teaching and conducting research. A ninth person is

currently in residence, and the tenth staff has already received his visa to arrive in May 2010. At

the same time, as many as ten KSU faculty have either taught in or visited University of Ibadan.

In addition, a joint international conference on globalization was held at University of Ibadan in

2007. Two books have been published from papers presented at this conference, and the third

is due out in May of 2010. Within a few years, therefore, this partnership has seen the

   These are, in Nigeria, University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Jos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe University;
In Liberia, Cuttington University; in Cameroon, University of Buea; in Morocco, Hassan II Universite; in South Africa,
University of Pretoria; in Kenya, Kenyatta University; in Tunisia, University of Sfax; in Egypt, Alexandria University,
and Helwan University; and in Malawi, University of Malawi.
   Megan Lindlow, “Academics in African Diaspora Reach Back to Help Universities Rebuild.” Chronicle of Higher
Education, December 13, 2009.

successful completion of faculty exchange, joint conference, collaborative research, and joint

publication. The impact has been substantial on both sides.

       Partnership and linkages, like the one just discussed, have been promoted by African

disapora at many institutions, but also supported and championed by the administration of

their respective universities, because they strengthen the curriculum in such fields as

comparative education, comparative politics, world history, social work, global nursing, and so

on. Examples of successful partnerships cited by Megan Lindlow in her Chronicle of Higher

Education article have either been pursued bilaterally by the partner institutions, or

multilaterally by sourcing funds from a third party—such as the MacArthur foundation, Nigeria

Higher Education Foundation, the Healthy Life for All Foundation, and the National Institutes of

Health. Activities under the partnerships on which Lindlow reported included faculty exchange,

collaborative research, joint conference, joint publication, collaborative teaching, hospital

equipment donation and setup, and the floating of a journal (Review of Leadership in Africa).

Activities under the partnership between Kennesaw State University and African universities

included instructional technology training, workshops on reading, public education about

disability, comparative research on aging and dying, understanding Islam, environmental and

range management, and impact of the community on the rainforest. In the pure sciences,

research has included pharmaceutical extraction from the Ghanaian rainforest.

       Partnerships are exciting, but they have their pitfalls that must be understood and

avoided. As the executive director of KSU’s Institute for Global Initiatives during the time that

most of KSU’s partnerships were established, I have become familiar with several of these

pitfalls and how to avoid them. A short list includes the following:

        1. Personalization of agreements: People tend to work and relate with their
           friends rather than cultivate new relationships; yet partnerships must be
           institutionalized to ensure continuity and sustenance, and so that all
           interested faculty can participate.
        2. Administrative red tape: Many universities could not enter into contractual
           relations without the final approval of a national office; such an approval
           sometimes takes too long. The Vice Chancellors must promote publicize and
           promote the agreement.
        3. Mismatches: Graduate universities may not work well with purely
           undergraduate colleges; liberal arts universities may not work effectively
           with polytechnics. Nigerian universities must be aware of the institutional
           mission of universities abroad.
        4. Administrative changes: The installation of a new Vice-Chancellor should not
           delay in ongoing activities; new initiatives may be evaluated. A solution may
           be for Nigerian universities to establish “Office of International Programs,” or
           something like, that to coordinate their international partnership

        A major mistake is taking partnership as synonymous with “assistance.” Nothing could

be farther from the truth. Many institutions approach partnership with the expectation that

one side would bring the funding. Both sides must be willing and ready to contribute. In a paper

I presented at the African Studies Association conference in 2009, I made the following

recommendations to avoid confusing partnerships with assistance:

             Ensuring and increasing mutual benefits in partnership programs and
             Ensuring institutionalization rather than personalization
             Accountability and transparency at all levels
             Basing projects and priorities on Africa’s needs rather than donor agency
             Evaluation, and use of findings to improve programs and projects
             Articulation of objectives, procedures and assign responsibilities formally
             Dissemination of projects/findings freely and widely47

   Akanmu Adebayo, “New Partnerships for Global Learning: Increasing Opportunities and Mutual Benefits in
Relations between U.S. and African Universities,” unpublished paper presented at the African Studies Association
conference, New Orleans, November 19-21, 2009, p.5.
   Akanmu Adebayo, “New Partnerships for Global Learning,” p.7.

                         Leveraging the Nigerian Diaspora: Recommendations

        In the section entitled “Harnessing Nigerian Human and Intellectual Capital,” Nigerians

in Diaspora in 2000 presented President Olusegun Obasanjo with their panacea for “reversing

brain drain to brain gain.”48 The document reads as follows:

        1. Promote linkages with Nigerian experts and professionals living in the
           Diaspora when initiating educational and industrial projects in Nigerian
           rather than relying only on foreign experts, in order to ensure the
           sustainability of those projects.
        2. Facilitate linkages and partnerships between Nigerian professionals and
           NGOs, foreign governments, and business organizations engaged in national
           projects for necessary checks and balances.
        3. Utilize a consultancy models. . . aimed at securing the expertise of Nigerian
           professionals in the Diaspora to provide low cost consultancy.
        4. Create conducive and enabling environments for groups of qualified Nigerian
           professionals and experts in the American Diaspora to “adopt” educational
           institutions in Nigeria for purposes of establishing “pilot programs’ aimed at
           demonstrating achievable standards of academic excellence.
        5. Promote linkages between Nigerians and other Africans in the African

        It is appropriate to start from the above to demonstrate that NIDOA has been

concerned about turning the brain drain into brain gain to revitalize Nigeria’s higher education.

Their recommendations, and similar ones by other diaspora organizations, are available for

public evaluation and possible adoption.

        In addition to the above, allow me to make the following five recommendations. The

first is the need for consultation. Members of the Nigerian diaspora are quite aware of the

manner, in the past, in which Euro-American models have been introduced and implemented

without consultation with Nigerians, leading to failure or even disastrous results. Those

   Nigeria, Towards Building a Greater Nigeria: Presidential Dialogue with Nigerians in the Diaspora. Committee
Recommendations Presented to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Mimeo, 2000.
   Nigeria, Towards Building a Greater Nigeria, pp.22-23.

interviewed consistently called for consultation between diaspora professionals and Nigerian

stakeholders, especially the leadership of the NUC, NBTE, NCCE and those of individual

universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, etc., to articulate each problem and design

policy intervention and solutions.

       In other words, consultative dialogs (call them summits or conferences) should be

organized between the NUC, NBTE, NCCE, and other national education commissions, and the

Nigerians in the Diaspora to examine the needs in higher education and the roles and

expectations of the diaspora. Such summits may be held at various times in countries or regions

with high concentration of Nigerian diaspora: Southern Africa, United States, the United

Kingdom, Europe, and Canada. The private sector did something similar when they targeted

diaspora investments; as one of Nigeria’s biggest industries, the educational sector should

consider this as an important step in leveraging the Diaspora for revitalizing Nigerian education.

Such summits may also be accompanied by a job fair at which higher education institutions

might recruit lecturers and non-academic staff.

       The second recommendation is that Nigerian institutions should adopt a systems

approach rather than an ad hoc approach. A “system” needs to be set up, both at the level of

higher education coordinating commissions (NUC, NBTE, and NCCE) and at institutional levels,

to do the following two things: articulate and publicize the needs of the respective higher

education institutions, match the needs to the strength in the diasspora. It is quite easy to

identify these resources in the Diaspora. Diaspora social networks—such as alumni

associations, churches, hometown associations and, yes, ethnic associations—provide

significant contact information. Thankfully, too, the Internet is a great resource. After all, we

receive e-mail messages almost on an hourly basis from “yahoo yahoo” advance fee fraudsters.

The same online tools for finding people could be used positively. Once appropriate

professionals have been located, they could be invited to facilitate workshops on strategic

planning and goal setting, quality assurance and accreditation, and so on. At the institutional

levels, also, each of Nigeria’s major higher education institutions should consider establishing

an Office of International Programs to give a face to internationalization, to be an identifiable

office for contacts from abroad, to coordinate with offices of development and alumni affairs,

and to provide continuity in times of transition of top leadership like VCs and DVCs.

       Thirdly, turning brain drain into brain gain requires providing an environment that

encourages world-class professionals to remain in Nigerian HEIs. Simply put, I am asking this

audience to improve conditions on your campuses. This is not so that those who are abroad

may come back, but so that those who are at home would not leave. This is not about

infrastructures outside university control, like electricity. Rather, it is about facilities that the

university provides as a routine. Recently, I became aware of a university where the Water

Engineer has been living in a temporary accommodation on campus for over a year, and that

house has no water. There is something wrong with that picture: the Water Engineer is not a

stakeholder in the institution’s water supply because the tap in his temporary housing is dry.

       The fourth recommendation is to liaise with the diaspora to turn a few Nigerian

universities into “Ph.D. Factories.” This would supply various institutions with lecturers who

would fill their vacancies. This proposal to create Ph.D. factories is not new. This is the essence

of many foundations’ funding of several institutions. Doing it in conjunction with Nigerians in

Diaspora is the innovative idea. The diaspora would then assist with resources at their disposal.

Some would open their laboratories for the candidates to conduct their research, others would

come and teach for a semester or a year; some would volunteer their time to supervise

candidates’ dissertation, and others might invite the candidates to their institutions for library

research to sharpen theoretical framework.

       The fifth (and final) recommendation is to situate the brain drain to brain gain discourse

within the larger discourse on good governance in Nigeria. This is where, as Vice Chancellors of

Nigerian universities, members of this audience can be a catalyst. Who are the exemplars of

good university governance that other Vice Chancellors could emulate? How much of this good

governance could be found in the faculties and departments where learning takes place? How

enterprising, selfless, and innovative is the leadership of Nigerian institutions? As it was pointed

out in this paper, many in the diaspora prefer to offer assistance outside government channels.

Could the same logic be extended that distrust of Vice Chancellors could equally constrain many

in the diaspora from contributing towards the revitalization of the universities?


       What can the Nigerian diaspora do to help revitalize the Nigerian universities? They can

donate money, books, hospital equipments, etc. They can serve as consultants, facilitators,

contacts, agents, etc. They can promote partnerships between Nigerians universities and

institutions in their host countries. They can organize NGOs for Nigerian educational

development. They can return to Nigerian HEIs and use their intellectual capital, social

networks, etc. And they can help nurture and mentor the next generation of Nigerian scholars.

       In fact, they have been doing these things and more. While abroad, many have become

very accomplished in their professions. In the best of situations, their work ethics have

changed. They have become more tolerant of different views, and more accepting of ethnic,

religious, gender, and other differences. They have imbibed other values from their host

cultures, such as being on time, a friendly customer service, a teacher-student relationship that

is conducive to learning, and the value of collaboration. Those who return brought these values

with them and, hopefully, they would not be suffocated by the prevailing Nigerian factor. One

by one, these returnees are helping to re-build the universities. That is brain gain.

       Not everyone would return. While many left because of poor pay and poor conditions of

service, it would take more than better pay and better conditions of service to bring them back.

They would also like to see a package that, among others, includes better infrastructure at work

and at home, good transportation and health facilities, good retirement package, etc. not only

for themselves but also for all their colleagues. In other words, most would contribute from

where they are. They would use their social remittance power for the renewal of academic

excellence in their home country, perhaps even in their alma mater. This, too, is brain gain.

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         Dimension, ed. Damtew Teferra and Jane Knight, 339-366. Boston: Center for
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