Millions of Nigerians have emigrated from Nigeria to other parts of the world, with a significant number leaving after 1990. These migrants and their descendants make up the Nigerian Diaspora. Estimates of the size of the Nigerian Diaspora vary greatly and range from about 5 million to 15 million people.
The Nigerian Diaspora covers practically every part of the world but the largest populations of Nigerians can be found in the UK, USA and South Africa. In Europe, London’s Peckham can be called “Little Lagos” and in the USA, Houston, Texas has the largest population of Nigerians in the country.
The emigration out of Nigeria, especially in more recent times, has been at a cost to Nigeria as the best, brightest and most able do not have high prospects for employment within the country. This rapid migration of the country’s professionals was termed “the brain drain”. However, this brain drain served to strengthen the Nigerian Diaspora with a significant portion becoming well-educated and trained, having professional jobs and high median income levels when compared to other immigrant groups.
Just like the Diasporas from other countries of the world, most members of the Nigerian Diaspora maintain strong ties with their families, friends and relatives back in Nigeria, and influence the social, political and economic development of Nigeria. However, there has been limited research and formal studies done on the Nigerian Diaspora, especially when compared to studies done on other major Diaspora groups.
This limited insight into the Nigerian Diaspora has led to a lack of proper understanding of the size, location, demographics, tastes, preferences, interests of the Nigerian Diaspora, and has limited the ability of companies and organizations to effectively reach and engage with them. However, the limited information available still offers some insight into the some attributes and potential of the Nigerian Diaspora and highlights the impact they could have on the host countries and Nigeria.
In the USA, Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group, with the highest percentage of Bachelor degree holders among African immigrants. Without any large-scale and formal structure, the Nigerian Diaspora continues to contribute significantly to the development of their home communities and Nigeria. In 2012, Nigerians in the Diaspora contributed more to Nigeria’s economy than 34 of the 36 states. $12 billion was remitted by the Nigerian Diaspora in 2012, (World Bank) and only Lagos and Rivers states had higher GDP’s.