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Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Nigeria can turn its brain drain to brain gain – Phillip Emeagwali

By Mideno Bayagbon
IN the last 25, 26 years, Philip Emeagwali, the Nigerian born American, world famous computer scientist, who is most times credited with the feat of being a father of the internet, has never set his foot on the Nigerian soil. And he has no apologies or immediate or future plans to visit. Ask him why, and he is unable to proffer any convincing answers.

But as he speaks, you begin to understand: Nigeria is a net brain drain country which is yet to realise that until its squabbling politicians wake up to the fact that they live in a global village where every serious nation attracts the best of brains from every corner of the world and keep them; until they realise that they must begin to explore a “Nigeria without oil” and strenuously begin to focus on educating the young generation and equipping them with the necessary scientific backgrounds to enable them compete globally, Nigeria, which is currently over 200 years behind the developed countries will continue to lag behind, continue to slip into perpetual global irrelevance.

He was a poignant irony of the enchanting gospel he preached at the Delta state government organised Delta Diaspora Direct in Geneva, last week. Why Nigeria and Nigerians delude themselves that Emeagwali is their own, the United States of America, where he went in 1974 in search of intellectual knowledge, is not about to let him go.

Indeed to keep him, the American government got his parents, all their 35 children and grand children to join him in the USA 26 years ago. He became a total brain lost. The simple truth is that America will never allow one of its top scientific brains to venture into a chaotic, unsafe Nigeria. Speaking with him, you cannot but weep for Nigeria.

Yet, none could dispute the truth in his message to Nigeria and Africa: the wealth of the future will be derived from developing the intellectual capital of our children. We must develop “the clay of wisdom”, the innovations of our younger generation: “we must put faith in our younger generation as we look to the future. By reinvesting our petroleum revenues into developing the potential of our children, we free ourselves from the burdens of our past,” he affirms as he speaks to the topic: “Building a Greater Delta State: Perspective on Development through Innovation, Technology and Diasporan Support”.

According to the computing guru, America and the developed world are great today, not because of their petroleum reserves, but because of their unsurpassed intellectual capital, the collective knowledge and wisdom of their people, pointing out that for Nigeria to join the world’s top 20 economies, it should not delude itself that it will be because of its petroleum revenues; “but because of the technological knowledge of future generations.”

Nigeria, he posits, must turn its brain drain into brain gain. “Nigeria needs more men and women of ideas, especially technology visionaries and futurists to help its people answer the larger question of who they are and where they want to go (because) the nation that controls critical technologies rules the world.”

For example, with Nigeria now 50 years old and still relying not just on revenues from petroleum resources but indeed on foreign expertise and technology to exploit it, Dr. Emeagwali asks the question: How will Nigeria acquire and control the petroleum technology it needs to dig a hole in the ground to recover its own oil and save 40 percent royalty lost to foreign oil companies? To this he says we must refocus our energy to develop the brain power of our youths. In the immediate, Dr. Emeagwali says, the answer in part, will be brain gain from its diaspora in Europe and America…technology will allow Nigeria to do more with less, without depleting its natural resources.

In human history, he says, technological development and economic growth proceed together and a nation that is second to none in science was second to none in economic power. Hence ‘the grand challenge for African scientists is to make discoveries and inventions that can be domesticated and diffused into the continent’s economy.”

He cites the various developmental strides of America and Europe which are currently powered by their high technological feats to back the call for Nigeria and indeed Africa to wake up its creative genius which the youth embody.

Emeagwali who was keynote speaker at the occasion, says because petroleum is a depleting resource, Nigerians must know that it is our scientific discoveries and technological inventions that will increase humanity’s intellectual capital by creating new knowledge, new products, and new wealth and move Nigeria forward into a top 20 economy.

“Africa can alleviate poverty by forcing the frontiers of science, pushing back the boundaries of what’s possible with technology, climbing the branches of the tree of knowledge, and embarking on a journey with an uncertain future. We cannot bring change without taking risks and without challenging the status quo. Great discoveries and great inventions cannot be made without the risk of great failures. Africa must cross the technological frontier to conquer tomorrow’s challenge.”

Thanking Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta state for the laudable initiative of linking Diaspora Nigerians with the homeland, through the Delta Diaspora Direct, he, however, adviced that the Nigerian Diaspora is a planet-sized think tank, which will allow leaders inside Nigeria to move beyond their collective limits and master new terrains. He then cautioned that the brain drain is Africa’s cold civil war that could leave the continent empty of brains in 50 years. Its effect on Nigeria could be worse than Nigerian-Biafran civil war of the twentieth century.

To Nigerians in diaspora, he says: “Africa needs your vision far more than your knowledge. Africa has more teachers than visionaries but needs more visionaries than teachers. The teacher has his feet on the ground, and his eyes on the ground.”

In concluding the very intellectually engaging talk, the Nigerian American, who still seemingly burns with a great desire to see Nigeria wake up from its slumber, says the future is for us to create, but that we must first outline our vision. “Foot soldiers, not generals, will lead our war against ignorance. The foot soldiers are our one hundred million young Nigerians whose weapon is knowledge.

Their collective intellectual capital will enable them to improve the world and push the human race forward. My vision is for Nigeria to tap into the creativity and innovation of our young people – the people who have the potential to uplift humanity. Technology is all around us; inventing new tools, techniques, and technologies reaffirms humanity’s goal to endlessly search for new knowledge, and to demand more of itself and its people. Let’s do the best we can to make the world better through technology.”

On his part, the Nigerian ambassador to France, Mr. Gordon Harry Bristol, wondered how Nigeria can turn the current, massive brain drain into a brain gain or at least brain circulation. How can we turn this into a comprehensive, effective, balanced and mutually beneficial migratory flows that will also ensure sustainable development?

He argues that “this second depopulation of Africa is more insidious as it entails the loss of the very skilled manpower, often trained in Africa with African resources, to the more developed parts of the world, to the detriment of the continent where their services are most required given its relative backwardness and poverty.

“This is also the case with the Middle East and South Africa where Nigerian professionals, especially medical doctors, have migrated in droves to contribute to the health care systems of their new found societies.”

The ambassador argues that the main challenge in sub-saharan Africa, is how to structure and order the benefits that are derivable from the diaspora. Unlike countries such as Turkey, the Philippines, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco, which have created the structures for doing this, many countries in sub-saharan Africa do not have any structure whatsoever.

Nevertheless, he says that the best way to stem migration is to progressively improve conditions in the countries of origin.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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