Comment 1: From Dr. Dike Ezekoye, Professor of Engineering, UT Austin
This topic has been most interesting. From my vantage point however, it seems a bit outdated. There is a UC Berkeley historian, Yuri Slezkine, who makes an interesting claim that we are all becoming more "Jewish".
His point is that we are globally becoming more mobile, literate, and occupationally flexible. In reading the article I saw clear connections to the old saying that Igbos are the Jews of Africa. Igbos had already been leaving their "home" before we all ventured overseas. It seems to me that we Africans in diaspora (along with Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc) are modern day Jews. To borrow from Slezkine, we are becoming the permanent strangers (internal aliens) in the countries we settle in. I feel that the question is no longer shall I return home with my talents, but rather where do I develop and maintain my talents best. If we are all more mecurian, our identity might be more closely tied to what we do than to where we live. I recognize that there are some very dangerous limits to not having a "homeland". Perhaps the balance is being Mercurian and also thinking long-term about security and safety. What do I know, I am an engineer.
Comment 2: From Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Lagos, Nigeria
It is clear that Tijani's mind is already made up about this, hence he would use any argument including distortion of other people's views to justify that position.
There was nothing in my write-up that could be paraphrased to suggest that 'home-coming' depends on the group one belongs'. That is a figment of his imagination. On the contrary, my position was (and still is) that regardless of where you are, you can be useful to yourself, your country and humanity, and that doing
this should not be couched in arrogance by either constituency - domestic or external.
Comment 3: From Ndubisi Obiorah
Dr. Tijani states that the question of "returning "home" is a matter of your profession,interest,
purpose, and prospects". I agree entirely with him. One is therefore perplexed when he proceeds to claim that "in recent time, folks that had returned are either politicians, or folks that had political appointments etc."
As a number of commentators have stated previously [and I agree with Prof. Onwudiwe's summation], the decision to return is a personal one based on one's individual circumstances. Dr. Tijani is fully entitled to make a decision to remain in the US based on his perceptions of his opportunities in Nigeria vis-a-vis those opportunities available to him in the US as well
as his personal and family circumstances plus of course his own personal life goals. No one should blame or excoriate him for his decision.
It is a tad unfair to proceed from justifying one's personal decision to remain in America to excoriating those who returned home as exclusively comprised of political jobbers or those with high level connections in the private sector. I can, off the top of my head, point to a number of his colleagues in academia who returned home to Nigeria after work/study abroad, who
are not necessarily possessed of high political and business connections or seeking political appointments and who are not dead or languishing in detention. There are academic colleagues who are alive and working in Nigeria and producing work published in leading refereed journals. I am happy to 'name names' if need be to establish this point. I am glad Dr. Tijani even refers to one such - Kayode Fayemi who, as far as I know, is not seeking political office with
the present government and does not loiter around the presidential villa in Abuja lobbying for contracts.
Dr. Tijani asks "what are the opportunities in the so called "home"?" If 'opportunities' denote well paid jobs in academia or blue chip companies lying vacant indefinitely awaiting returnee diasporans, those are virtually non-existent in Nigeria. Returnee diasporans must compete on equal terms with those who studied and remained at home for jobs. They cannot reasonably
expect that possessing degrees from foreign universities will automatically qualify one for jobs.
I personally know people with Ivy League degrees who report in their places of work to people with degrees from Nigerian universities. A Harvard MBA does not automatically qualify you to be a CEO - or indeed, to hold any other position- in Nigeria.
Some Nigerian who studied/worked abroad and now work for blue chip companies in Nigeria have not been very good advertisements for returnee diasporans. A person who spent 6 years driving cabs or flipping burgers in inner city America while attending East Utopia State University is not necessarily better educated than a recent alumnus of the University of Ibadan or Nsukka. Inevitably, they reveal from their syntax [heavily laced with ghetto slang], demeanour and work etiquette that they spent most of their sojourn in America in the margins of American society. I have had CEOs and senior managers complain to me of the surprising ignorance and low productivity of their foreign-trained employees.
Centre for Law and Social Action