There was a time when American citizens who received their undergraduate education at Ivy League universities found Nigeria as the ideal destination to pursue graduate studies.
I stumbled upon the LinkedIn profile of Dr. Judith Asuni, who had published some of the most insightful and policy relevant research on the armed groups in Nigeria’s oil region. I only realized today that she’s an American citizen who received her Bachelor’s degree at the prestigious Cornell University before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. That she left Cornell to pursue graduate studies at Ibadan, revives interest in Chinua Achebe’s book “There Was A Country,” a compelling and persuasive narrative of our varnishing country.
Like Ibadan, several other schools have historically attracted foreigners into Nigeria to pursue higher education. Until the early 2000s, the University of Calabar and The Polytechnic, Calabar, in Nigeria, had hundreds of Cameronean, Gabonese, and Togolese students on their campuses. To these cohort of students, studying in Nigeria was like studying in Europe or North America. The quality of education was good.
Today, you can hardly find a foreign student in any Nigerian university or college. Instead, what’s happening is reverse development. What is needed to move Africa forward is quality education.
Once African leaders recognize the importance of quality education and take drastic measures to reform their dilapidated universities and colleges, the migration trend that creates the so-called “brain drain” syndrome will reverse automatically in Africa’s favor. The African diaspora intellectuals, I believe, are patriotic citizens who love their continent and would be encouraged to give back.