Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, but that is not its only pride. The staggering number of highly influential and successful Nigerians abroad, especially in the United States, is proof that the country is not only rich in mineral resources but also in human capital.
However, with the exodus of Nigeria’s brightest minds to the west, in search of greener pastures, the country may be the biggest loser after all. These successful Nigerians abroad are contributing immensely to the development of western nations and excelling across the different sectors of their economy – be it in entertainment, politics, academics, sports, among others.
This article shines the light on a few Nigerians making it big in the United States. According to a recent report by Pew Research, Nigerian immigrants in the US has tripled in less than 20 years. The number increased from 130,000 in 2000 to 390,000 in 2019. And this US data is by far a tiny fraction of successful Nigerians abroad, who are scattered across Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
Nigeria currently ranks third on the list of leading birthplaces for black immigrants living in the United States. Here is a list of Nigerian-Americans changing the African narrative in the US.
Adewale Adeyemo – Deputy Treasury Secretary
He is currently serving under the Joe Biden administration as the US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. He was sworn in on March 26, 2021, becoming the first African-American to hold the position. Before this, Adeyemo served on the Obama administration as the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics and the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. He was also elected as President of the Obama Foundation.
According to Jason Furman, a professor of economic policy at Harvard University and a one-time chief financial adviser to ex-President Barack Obama, “He (Adeyemo) impressed everyone he met with his intelligence, great judgment and kindness”. Adeyemo, at 40, has substantial expertise in the Democratic Party and in managing the country’s economic affairs.
Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo – Associate White House Counsel
Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo is a Special Assistant to President Joe Biden and Associate Counsel in the White House Counsel’s Office.
She started her legal career as an associate at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP and then worked as Legal Counsel at Palantir Technologies Inc. She holds degrees from the University of Florida, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
Badejo’s previous positions in the US public service include; the General Counsel of the United States House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Counsel for Policy to the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, Ethics Counsel at the White House Counsel’s Office, and Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Conference of the United States.
Osaremen Okolo – COVID-19 Policy Advisor and a member of the COVID-19 Response Team
According to President Joseph Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris, the team will “work to quickly implement a comprehensive, whole-of-government COVID-19 response strategy to contain the pandemic, restore public trust, and protect all Americans”.
Before the appointment, Okolo worked as a Senior Health Policy Advisor for US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois. She authored, negotiated, and oversaw Jan’s legislation, oversight, and policy on broad healthcare and public-health agenda focused almost entirely on the COVID-19 pandemic.
She had also served as Legislative Aide for Health Policy on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions for Ranking Member Patty Murray of Washington.
Okolo also worked as a Legislative Aide for Health Policy for Ranking Member Patty Murray of Washington on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Agbaje defeated Representative Raymond Dehn in the Minnesota House of Representatives election in 2020, becoming the first Nigerian-American woman elected to the Minnesota legislature. She formerly worked as a Foreign Service Officer for the US Department of State. She works at Ciresi Conlin LLP as an associate attorney, where she focused on general civil litigation and medical malpractice. She represents Hennepin County’s District 59B, which encompasses a part of the north and downtown Minneapolis.
He is a Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical school. In 2020, Peterside was named America’s Best Physician by the U.S. National Consumer Advisory Board. He’s also a Consultant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, regarded as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in the world.