Nigerian immigrants are relatively few but are very highly educated, in contrast to what one hears from the White House.
Today, 29% of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11% of the overall U.S. population. Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45% work in education services. Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs.
“There’s something about America and education that we need to celebrate,” [a Nigerian] says. Anyone from the Nigerian diaspora will tell you their parents gave them three career choices: doctor, lawyer or engineer. For a younger generation of Nigerian-Americans, that’s still true, but many are adding a second career, or even a third, to that trajectory…. Now that doctor, lawyer and engineer are no longer the only acceptable career options within the community, the path to professional achievement is rife with more possibilities than ever before. Sports, entertainment, music, the culinary arts — there are few fields Nigerian-Americans aren’t already influencing.
According to the Migration Policy Institute there were in 2011 about 213,000 Nigerian-born persons in the U.S. They had 163,000 American born children. In 1980, there were only about 25,000 Nigerians in the U.S. In 2012, Nigerians in the U.S. sent $6.1 billion in remittances to Nigeria, the largest source of remittances to that country. Total remittances from all sources are equivalent to 7.9% of Nigeria’ GDP.
In 1963-1964 I attended the University of Nigeria. While I was there Malcolm X spoke, with reverence for the racial and ethnic equality he found in Mecca. He was returning to the United States and to his death.