THE United States President-elect, Joe Biden’s appointment of three young Nigerians into his cabinet is replete with lessons, not just for Nigeria, but for the entire African continent. Biden first appointed 39-year-old Adewale Adeyemo, who was the first President of the Obama Foundation, as United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.
Next, Biden appointed 26-year-old Miss Osaremen Okolo, who hails from Ewohimi in Esan South East Local Council of Edo State, as his COVID-19 Policy Advisor. Miss Okolo is a graduate of Harvard University and a former Senior Health Policy Advisor in the US House of Representatives.
The latest Nigerian young talent Biden has found worthy of appointment is Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo whom he appointed White House Counsel. Badejo, a lawyer and an alumnus of Berkeley Law College in the US, has served as a counsel for policy to the Assistant Attorney-General in the Civil Division of the US Department of Justice, Ethics Counsel at the White House Counsel’s Office. She was also Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Conference of the United States during the Obama-Biden administration.
These appointments are restatements of Nigerian youths’ ingenuity and brilliance which have long been established by their forerunners in various fields of human endeavour. Many brilliant minds whom Nigeria lost, mostly to the United States through the well-known brain drain syndrome, include Saheed Adepoju, inventor of the INYE-1&2 tablet computers designed for the African market; Seyi Oyesola, co-inventor of CompactOR, a solar powered life-saving operating room nicknamed “Hospital in a box”; Jelani Aliyu, designer of Chevrolet Volt for General Motors, a leading auto brand.
There is also Ndubuisi Ekekwe, developer of microchips used in minimally invasive surgical robots; Cyprain Emeka Uzoh, who holds more than 126 United States-issued patents and over 160 patents worldwide in semiconductor technology; Kunle Olukotun, who led the Stanford University Hydra research project that developed one of the first chip multiprocessors with support for thread-level speculations; Sebastine Chinonye Omeh, who conducted the research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity; and Shehu Saleh Balami, designer of a solid-fuel rocket.
There are also Yemi Adesokan, who made a discovery on drug-resistant infections; Umeh Ifeanyi Charles, who has five inventions patented at the United States Patent & Trademark Office; Aloysius Anaebonam, who has 12 United States patents; Emeka Nchekwube, a US-based neurosurgeon and co-inventor of two brands of hypoestoxides, terfenadine oral powder and solutions of pentamidine and many others.
The United States and other countries saw the talents in these Nigerians and gave them citizenships and everything they needed to do their works for the benefit of their countries. As the opportunities were given to these Nigerians in the field of science and technology, so it was also in political arenas and other areas of human endeavour, without discriminations, even though we accuse the US of racism.
Perhaps the saddest story in Nigeria is how the Federal Government allowed majority of the brains that birthed the promise of the first technologically advanced Black nation to waste while the rest migrated abroad where their ingenuities were harvested for the benefit of the host country. Nigeria, at the moment, cannot refine the crude oil multinational companies drill out of its soil.
The good news for Nigeria, however, is that it is never too late to start. Fortunately, genius brains still abound in the country. With the right environment in terms of policies and infrastructure, Nigeria can start and find her footings. But it requires a will and honesty of purpose, and not self-deceit evident among our politicians and leaders.