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Visionaries - July 18, 2022

5 Incredibly Successful Nigerians in Diaspora

As much as some Nigerians have tainted Nigeria’s image in the international community, several successful Nigerians in the diaspora are putting the country on the global map for the right reasons.

They are making waves worldwide in several spheres of endeavour. Their influence is evident in sports, music, literature, movies, and many other sectors.

These exceptional people have put in much effort to stand out and gain the respect of their peers in nations like the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Europe, and everywhere in the world.

Here are the successful Nigerians in the diaspora.


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1. Professor Deji Akinwande

In January 2021, Professor Deji Akinwande was elected as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

IEEE is a society for professionals in the science, technology, and associated electrical, electronic, and computer sectors.

At the University of Texas at Austin, he holds a full professorship. Akinwande has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Bessel-Humboldt Research Award, the U.S. Presidential PECASE Award, the IEEE “Early Career Award” in Nanotechnology, and the 2018 Fulbright Specialist Award.

He established ground-breaking records in the study of flexible technologies, sensors, gadgets, and nanomaterials. 

The university said, “In 2015, Akinwande created the first transistor out of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material, and he is continuing to advance the capabilities of computer chips and other electronics.”

2. Dr Onyema Ogbuagu

Onyema Ogbuagu is an associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine focusing on infectious diseases and AIDS.

His contribution to the first successful COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer in the United States was recognised in a tweet by the US Mission in Nigeria.

In 2003, Ogbuagu completed his medical studies at the University of Calabar in Cross River State. Before relocating to the US, he completed an internship at the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki.

Ogbuagu is the program director for projects in the World Bank and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) meant to support the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS). 

In the college, he manages the Internal medicine residency training program and conducts educational programs and activities to strengthen the residency training program. 

He also oversees the selection and deployment of faculty members to Liberia.

3. Esther Agbaje

In the recently completed general elections in the United States, Ms Esther Agbaje ran as a candidate for the Democratic Party to represent District 59B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. With 17,396 votes, she won.

Her parents, an Episcopal Priest and a Librarian, are both Nigerians. Agbaje is the elected legislator for the city where George Floyd was killed by the police, which sparked the global #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Before being chosen to serve as the people’s representative, she practised law. She demonstrates humanitarian gestures by helping homeless individuals in danger of being evicted. 

Despite her current office, she is still actively involved in helping homeless people. She does this under the aegis of the Volunteer Lawyers Networking Housing Court Project in Hennepin County.

In her words, “it’s heartbreaking” working with people who are experiencing economic hardship, “and our response as a society is to put them out on the street.”

4. Oye Owolewa

Oye Owolewa is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston with a PhD in pharmacy.

In 2020, he was elected as a shadow member of the House of Representatives in Washington DC.

He received 164,026 votes, beating out the incumbent Joyce Robinson-Pau, who got 18,600 votes and Sohaer Syed, who secured 15,372 votes.

Owolewa’s father is an indigene of Kwara state in Nigeria, while his mother hails from Osun State, Nigeria.

5. Dr Oluyinka Olutoye

Texas-based renowned fetal and pediatric surgeon Dr Oluyinka Olutoye is one of the most successful Nigerians in the diaspora. In 2016, he successfully performed surgery on a fetus.

At a routine ultrasound of the mother in the 23rd week of pregnancy, it was found that the fetus had an uncommon birth defect called sacrococcygeal teratoma, a sizable growth on the fetus’ tailbone.

Under the leadership of Olutoye, about 21 doctors worked to remove the tumour. The baby was taken out of the uterus for 20 minutes during the five-hour procedure to remove the tumor, and she was then put back inside for the remainder of the gestation period before being delivered alive without any incident.

Olutoye was appointed chief surgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the US in recognition of this ground-breaking achievement. He currently oversees one of the largest pediatric surgical departments in the world.

Olutoye earned his medical degree at Nigeria’s Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. He thereafter moved on to Virginia Commonwealth University to receive his PhD in anatomy in 1996.

He finished his general surgery residency at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Hospitals and his pediatric and fetal surgery fellowships at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The American Board of Surgery has certified him in surgery and pediatric surgery.


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