POVERTY ALLEVIATION: EMEAGWALI TO OUR RESCUE.
I consider as timely the publication in the Tuesday 4th November 2003 (page21) in the Guardian Newspaper, The Key Note speech by Mr. Phillip Emeagwali at the Pan-African Conference on Brain Drain, Elsah Illinois on October 24th 2003.
This is due to the importance of this (Tuesday Guardian Newspaper) issue to the communication and information technology investors, the under employed and the ever increasing army of unemployed Nigerians.
I am of the view that the issues raised in this speech should form the basis of discussion and brainstorming at the next Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, the next deliberations of the National Assembly, the corporate business community, the Nigerian Labour Congress, political parties and individuals seeking public offices in 2007 and every reasonable and concerned Nigerians.
The views and facts presented by this highly revered Nigerian-born information technologist on the issues are highly appreciated, understood and welcomed. I believe that many of the Nigerians must have discovered and will agree with me that Emeagwali’s acclaimed direct foreign investments in Nigeria attributed to them given his illustrations has had a little or no impact on the economy due to its lack of intrinsic values. I cannot but agree with him that a nation’s human capital is of more value than its financial capital if it aims to achieve economic growth and development as could be seen in countries like India, Indonesia, Singapore, Israel e.t.c lately.
Therefore, I want to challenge Phillip Emeagwali to ensure he had not6 only pay lip service to this subject of discourse but to dedicate his time and resources to championing a crusade that will ensure the reverse of the current trend and also give a direction to the poverty alleviation policies and programmes of the present administration. A case in sight is the achievements of the 1 million jobs he said could be created through front desk activities. Efforts should be geared at mobilizing and orientating Nigerians in diaspora on the dangers the current trend portends and the need to save the lives of their kinsmen and relations back home. They should mobilize themselves along individual, group, organization, institution, professional and interest lines.
For example, Mr. Phillip Emeagwali can help mobilize Nigerians abroad who are experts in the Information Technology business and help coordinate them into a foundation that will enhance information Technology knowledge, skills, capacity acquisition development and utilization in Nigeria. This could be achieved through frequent visits to Nigeria to organize and participate in seminars, conferences, workshops etc to educate and practically demonstrate necessary skills to secondary and tertiary education students as well as the private and public sector of the economy.
Our dear Chief Harry Akande could lead a team of Nigerians abroad in the business world to Nigeria to compliment the efforts of the likes of Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga in promoting investments in the agricultural sector in areas of crop cultivation, processing and storage. This will increase the quantities of raw materials available to the agro-allied sector and again supports and participate in the privatization efforts in the oil, energy and communication sector through their direct foreign investments. This will go a long way in reducing the exploitative tendencies and influences of firms like Chevron, Julius Berger etc as expressed by Phillip Emeagwali of great relevance.
Recently, I have applauded the decision of some of our medical experts to visit the nation and give medical assistance to Nigerians on humanitarian grounds. I appeal that such visits should be made more frequently and in different specialists fields. They should make the rural communities a place of greater priority. Equipments and machines should be donated to health institutions and funds made available to researchers in the medical field.
Academic, sports, entertainments and tourism experts should endeavour to come and help develop the vast human capital (talents) in Nigeria. It is time to join the crusade for a better Nigeria. The pessimists among them should remember that no difficulty is impregnable, even imaginary and people-inflicted ones can be overcomed by right thinking.
Phillip Emeagwali and his colleagues that are adjudged to be successful Nigerian adventurers abroad must note that “to be successful is to be helpful, caring and constructive, to make everything and everyone you touch a bit better the best thing you have to give is yourself.” Nigeria surely has a place for those that respond to or ignore its distress call.
On the part of the federal government, it is important they organize conference on different fields of endeavour that will enhance brainstorming on this subject among Nigerians within and abroad in relevant fields. This will increase the quality of the idea generation process which will enhance the policy and programme formulation and implementation in both the private and public sector of the economy. Dr. Kpakoh’s NAPEP, I suggest should take a cue from this development.
The National Assembly should exert more energy to the passage of bills that will help put in place durable structures that will sustain economic growth and development. They should realize that Nigerians are no longer excited with their frequent changes of leadership but their contribution to democratic values, national growth and developments.
The worst hit by the brain drain issue is the private sector and especially the corporate organizations that the experience of high rate of labour turnover, after they must have spent a substantial amount in the training and development of staff who willfully abandon their services in search of greener pastures abroad. Therefore, these affected organizations should liaise and come up with policies and programmes that are aimed at retaining the service of their valued staff.
The Nigerian Labour Congress should come up with a blue print of how they can contribute to the success of the on-going civil service reforms to change the image of the lazy and nepotic nature of the Nigerian civil service. The NLC should help in establishing and managing of co-operative societies among its members. Also, it should seek to mobilize funds for the construction of low cost housing estate to ease the sufferings of its members in places like Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt etc. organization of training programmes such as seminars, conferences, and workshops will position its members for increased efficiency and effectiveness.
Political parties and other individuals seeking public offices in year 2007 should be strategizing on how they can meaningfully contribute to the economic development efforts therefore winning the confidence of the people long before elections, as manifested by the late M. K. O. Abiola in the 1993 polls. They should invest a substantial portion of their wealth in the development of the human capital than distributing five hundred naira notes to seek votes during elections. Nigerians should no longer be taken for fools.
Me thinks, Nigerians should be ready to contribute their efforts in whatever ways to increase the spate of economic growth and development efforts of the present administration. I, despite all criticisms have always seen President Olusegun Obasanjo as a tough minded optimist that sees Nigeria’s economic problem as a challenge to our collective intelligence, ingenuity and faith. He believes we should keep on thinking, praying and believing. He knows there is a solution and together we’ll finally find it. GOD BLESS NIGERIA.
49, Onajimi Street Owotutu
Webmistress' Note: This letter was mailed to Nigerian media and cc'ed to us
It was an eye opener
I read your article on brain drain in the guardian of Nov. 4th 2003. It was an eye opener for me because the name Philip Emeagwali has been stuck in my mind for the past 3 years since i first heard abou you in my History of Science and Technology class in my 2nd year at school.
I am an enthusiast and would be grateful if you could please give me details concerning operating a call centre, from the international perspective.Though im not a businessman i do recognise the fact that the right information needs to get the right people to ensure effective utilization. This i believe would go a long way towards reversing the brain drain in our society.
Thanks in anticipation may God grant you more knoledgeto execel and bring honour to our black race
Dept. of Mech Engrg
University of Science& Tech.
PROPOSALS FOR CONSIDERATION
Dear Dede Philip,
Greetings from Nigeria.
I hope I am not bothering you with my frequent mails. which it is just that I have seen a brother in who has a burden to see his father land take it’s rightful place in the comity of nations.
While driving home last week, in the midst of our usual traffic jam, I began to think about you and ideas of what we could do together started flooding my head. Thank God,for the grace He has given me in initiating projects.
I quickly graped my idea notebook while others were feeling frustrated in the traffic jam, I started jotting down ideas about projects that have the potentials to change the face of Nigeria and Africa earlier than we can imagine
(A) PHILIP EMEAGWALI COMPUTER AND INTERNET LEARNING CENTRE
Philip Emeagwali Computer and Internet Learning Centres:
To provide condusive learning and research environment for promoting technological advancement of Africa.
How will the centres operate:
1. Establish computer and internet learning centers in selected rural/urban areas.
2. The learning centers will be equipped with modern computer/internet equipments.
3. The centers will be manned by highly skilled professionals who share this vision with us.
4. The centers will run training programmes designed to train the following caliber of personnels.
* Computer trained teachers for nursery, primary, secondary schools.
* Computer trained lecturers for universities and other high schools
* Computer trained personnels for corporate bodies.
* Train programmers and write programmes for companies other users.
* Train computer trained personnels for public institutions
* Run computer related professional courses.
5. The centres will run holiday coaching programmes for student on vacations.
6. Carry out computer related campaigns and public enlightment programmes.
7. Mount deliberate motivational prgrammes to encourage individual, communities, associations, government to take prominent interest in computer knowledge acquisition
8. Give scholarships to outstanding students to study computer related courses in the universities.
9. Sponsor candidates on computer rated overseas trips.
10. Donate computer equipments to schools and public places.
(B) PHILIP EMEAGWALE COMPUTER AND INTERNET LIBRARIES AND GALLARIES
1. Establish libraries in selected rural and urban centers
2. Display some of your inventions and publications
3. Render computer related services to schools, colleges and universities.
4. Run the programmes in A above.
(C) PHILIP EMEAGWALI COMPUTER AND INTERNET FOUNDATION
This foundation will have many arms such as
1. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet Learning Centres
2. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet Libraries and Gallaries
3. Philip Emeagwali Scholarship Fund on Computer & Internet Courses.
4. Philip Emeagwali Computer & Internet University.
# Under this foundation, 1 and 2 above will cover the details in No A and B ideas earlier stated. The scholarship fund on computer and internet related courses will be given prominent focus designed to train and prepare personnels that will manage the proposed call centers.
# Also emphasis will be given on personnel that will be dedicated to writing of programmes and development of other software items.
On the Philip Emeagwali Computer and Internet University, it will be a specialized university dedicated to the training of much required manpower that will give Africa the technological advancement.
Your influence and contact will make it easy to secure the license to operate the university.
# It will be established in your hometown or any other location of your choice.
# It could also be a multi-campus university for strategic reasons.
# Campus could be established in other African countries.
# It will offer courses that are computer and internet related in graduate and post graduate levels.
Both No A, No B and No. C ideas share the same benefits such as
1. Immortalizing your name in Africa
2. immortalizing your inventions in Africa
3. Serve as instruments to motivate the up coming generation to the heights you have attained.
4. Provide reading and learning centre for technological based knowledge acquisition.
5. Provide research facilities for further technological breakthroughs.
6. Train the much needed computer personnels that will take over the call centers.
7. Develop industry based programmes that will aid the development of African economies. Offer scholarship to students who would not have had the opportunity.
8. Challenge other outstanding professionals in other fields of endeavour to contribute to the development of the African society.
9. The projects could help fulfill your dream of reversing the brain drain to brain gain.
10. Develop Africa technologically.
1. Land and locations: Various communities local, state and federal governments will be ready to donate lands for the projects.
2. Various Corporate bodies and institutions that have benefited from your invention will be more than willing to fund the project being your pet projects
3. Various donor agencies would be willing to be part to the vision.
4. Various foreign governments will also gladly give to support the project
5. The Nigerian and African governments will also be willing to support.
6. An internationally organized fund raising programme even involving former US President Bill Clinton will yield much more than we can imagine.
7. As soon as the projects takes off, it will be self sustaining since individuals, corporate governments and institutions will be more than willing to pay for the services being rendered
8. Being non-profit, any surplus fund will be ploughed back to expand the vision to other areas that are of interest to us.