Nigerian Americans have long been known for their community’s intense cultural emphasis on education, and now an analysis of Census data coupled with several local surveys shows that Nigerians don't just value education, but surpass all other U.S. ethnic groups when it comes to obtaining degrees.
"Being Black, you are already at a disadvantage," Oluyinka Olutoye, an associate professor of pediatric surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Houston Chronicle. "You really need to excel far above if you want to be considered for anything in this country."
According to 2006 census data, 37 percent of Nigerians in the U.S. had bachelor's degrees, 17 percent held master's degrees and 4 percent had doctorates. In contrast, the same census data showed only 19 percent of white Americans had bachelor’s degrees, 8 percent held master’s degrees and only 1 percent held doctorates, the paper reports.
The census data was bolstered by an independent analysis of 13 annual Houston-area surveys conducted by Rice University and commissioned by the Chronicle.
"These are higher levels of educational attainment than were found in any other...community," Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University who conducts the annual Houston Area Survey, told the paper.
However, despite the strides in education made by many African immigrants, including Nigerian-Americans, discrimination still colors their prospects for employment. A study of 2010 employment data by the Economic Policy Institute showed that, across nationalities and ethnic groups, Black immigrants carried the highest unemployment rate of all foreign-born workers.
In addition to cultural expectations about obtaining higher education, the paper reports that many African immigrants are more likely to pursue higher education as a means of maintaining their immigrant status in the U.S.
"In a way, it's a Catch-22 — because of immigration laws you are forced to remain in school, but then the funny thing is you end up getting your doctorate at the age of 29," Amadu Jacky Kaba, an associate professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, told the paper. "If you stay in school, immigration will leave you alone."
How the Nigeria Foundation Houston blocked my right to obtain the Nigerian e-passport
An Eye Witness Account by the Human Rights and Freedom Congress (HRFCA)
News Release/for publication
Houston, Texas November 21, 2010:
The issue of how mercilessly, unfairly and unprofessionally Nigerians in any form of minimal “power” or minimal “influence” treat other Nigerians has been and remains in dramatic display, even as I write in Houston, Texas since the second week of November 2010.
As a human rights activist who witnessed these incompetent methods, punishments endured by women and little children, and insults to other Nigerians, I raised an objection to suggest better ways forward; I respectfully complained, objected and sought answers from Nigeria consular and Nigerian Foundation agents. Not surprisingly I was treated worse than others in line.
I wanted answers and I went to the entrance door but to my greatest surprise I was assaulted by one of the consulate agents. I was punched to the floor and later taken to emergency room for medical treatment. Subsequently I was denied service; all my documents, payments, passport and fees were returned and refunded to me and I was asked not to return to the warehouse premises. I was beaten, shocked and in utter disbelief that this Nigeria agents have authority to deny me my constitutional right to renew my passport. Can this be true was my question? Can an artificial organization of only 30-something individuals be allowed to give Nigeria’s consulate (for all their hardwork at the scene) and Nigeria’s government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan a terrible international human rights problem specifically denying those who raise objections to illegal, immoral and punitive fees by a very incompetent, splintered group of Nigerians in Houston called the Nigerian Foundation? On whose authority are they levying and taxing Nigerians for passports?
The point must be made, too, that the methods of the Segun Jimmie Vaughn-led Nigerian Foundation would have disenfranchised thoughtful Nigerians like Mbonu Ojike, like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Gani Fawehinmi, Wole Soyinka, Olisa Agbakoba and many freedom and social activists who saw wrong and wanted it right, who saw oppression and wanted freedom for many silent, voiceless, countless, patient fellow Nigerians. The refusal to offer me consular service (paid in full) will be an act of injustice and if allowed to prevail would set a dangerous precedent in how the rights of citizens are abrogated. According to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere. Yesterday was me, today my friend, tomorrow who knows?
Here are the facts for which I am an eyewitness, on several days I was at the scene.
1. THE PASSPORTS: The Nigeria consulate in Atlanta through its hand-picked, commissioned and arbitrarily paid community organization in Houston called The Nigerian Foundation, Inc. circulated information for obtaining the Nigerian/ECOWAS new e-passport in Houston. Nigerians were instructed to come for the exercise from November 12, 2010 to November 20, 2010.
2. TERRIBLE CHOICE OF VENUE: As of this eye witness report, the e-passport exercise is uncompleted hence some folks have been advised to come on Wednesday November 23, 2010, to the UGC Cargo shipping warehouse location owned by a key member of the Nigerian Foundation who bagged the passports of Nigerians in the back office of his warehouse. The venue was and remains the same ill-equipped warehouse used for cargo shipment with no public restroom or dual exits (for any emergency). The legal accommodation of the partitioned warehouse was 20 people and you wonder how they can serve thousands of people every day. An elderly woman of approximate age of seventy complained that they refused to allow her inside to use the unisex restroom. Mazi Eni Kanu, a business, oil & gas company leader in Houston and Nigeria witnessed and suffered firsthand the reckless disregard of the Nigerian Foundation.
Another woman with 7 month old baby lamented the humiliation as she could not endure the cry of the baby under the biting Houston sun, the pushing and shoving on the line, the occasional yelling of the officers and leaders of the Nigerian Foundation especially the unconscionable maltreatment of Nigerians. “What kind of country is this that would subject its citizens to this?” She vented out as she balanced the crying baby on her left hand.
3. FEES and PAYMENTS: Information was given for payment through the internet and additional fees as money orders. The government/consulate of Nigeria has its own charges aside from the high and arbitrary levies and punitive fees charged on a government service by the Houston Nigerian Foundation, a community, non-profit organization, and without issuing anyone any receipt for the monies collected by the same Nigerian Foundation. Therefore, technically, may not be reported as revenue to the IRS. We will be watching and monitoring the Segun Jimmie Vaughn led splinter group of Nigerian Foundation, especially on this issue of funds.
On the payments, first, there is a sixty five US dollars ($65) processing fee, second, thirty dollars ($30.00) for the Houston Nigeria Foundation’s own fee and thirdly, twenty dollars ($20.00) consulate fee, $10 for money order fee charged by the Foundation if you bought those from them (typical fair market charge $1) and yet, worse, the Nigerian Foundation Information, a group with less than 30 active, dues-paying membership, whip Nigerians with an oppressive $10 for reprint of a single sheet of paper capturing the e-passport receipt from the Nigerian Immigration services. This same Nigerian Foundation charge Nigerians $25 for the standard express mail in stamp which is sold by the U.S Post office to everyone for only $18.30.
Once inside the Cargo warehouse, after spending several hours outside and paying these aforementioned exorbitant illegal fees, for those lucky to complete their process, they were given a small thumbnail – size number slip (not a receipt or acknowledgment letter) and told to come back another day for simple finger printing.
ADDITIONAL ISSUES AND CONCERNS OF NIGERIANS AT THE E-PASSPORT LOCATION:
4. Why should applicants have to pay $50 for non-Nigeria government approved fees? After paying the official fee and obtaining all invoices and data, your application should be processed with no hassle, but that was not to be with the Nigerian Foundation and its private fronts for making and squeezing monies from fellow Nigerians.
5. Why did Mr. Vaughn and the board of the Foundation lead the Nigerian consulate into choosing such a mediocre and non-equipped and inhospitable location for such a civic exercise involving women and children? Everyone who has come through the place will tell you there was no proper accommodation for applicants who trooped in hundreds, many with children, under harsh sun and cold exposure. As a cargo shipping warehouse, it did not have proper sitting accommodations nor was alternative arrangements made by the consulate or Nigerian Foundation, Inc. for the anticipated applicants. Also the facility did not have sitting and weather arrangements outside the warehouse. It was unbearably frustrating, clearly chaotic even as Nigerians were patient with the poor managers at the Nigerian Foundation who had an opportunity to show performance but were entering information with long hand and pens in this day and age. Younger Nigerians were shocked at the lack of technology-awareness and lack of usage by the Segun Vaughn Nigerian Foundation.
6. Understandably, there was frustration when people were forced to stand outside on line for more than 5 hours minimally and often one had to come back twice or more (on different days) before completing the process. People stood in line patiently under the Houston heat, while excited or anguished applicants complained and were rained with abuses from the president and representatives from the Nigerian Foundation Inc, who crudely did not understand the mass suffering of fellow Nigerians under the Texas unpredictable weather.
I think and found out, like many Nigerians, that the process was very unfriendly, unprofessional, ineffective and ill conceived to render quality reliable service to law abiding and industrious Nigerians. This charade could have been done in a better humane environment instead of keeping people outside under Texas sun with no sitting chairs, no preferential treatment for those with little children, no reliable information, and charging ridiculous fee. What a bungled exercise!
7. A small due diligence would have shown, as I was informed by a board member of Segun Vaughn-led Nigerian Foundation which could not organize the Houston 50th Independence anniversary of Nigeria effectively with less than 50 guests, plus the fact it owes the vendors/suppliers who worked for the event had no business being placed in a driver’s seat to embarrass Nigerians and Nigeria. Could this be a conflict of interests? What prevented the consulate from renting a hall or hotel with chairs, tables and restroom facilities?
8. I complained because I believe in justice, fairness and equity. I complained because I did not like how they made fellow citizens suffer unnecessarily especially, the children, senior citizens and women. I complained because the fees were uncalled for; exorbitant, illegal, immoral and rip-off.
I make this report for the purpose of explaining the injustice melted to our fellow Nigerians in Abuja, in Houston or anywhere is unacceptable. We cannot be too powerless, voiceless, and too patient or simply being “too bold” to complain. It’s my hope and desire that we as people and especially Nigerians wake up to demand better service, humane treatment from our government and leaders and perhaps get answers to why they maltreat us. Like me, you may be a victim who may be punched and denied passport because we are courageous and principled enough to say we deserve better!!
The aim of every government is to protect and provide sovereign services to its citizens. Every citizen expects nothing less, and when a government either through its agencies, agents or liaisons fails in fulfilling its constitutional obligations, its citizens have it as their constitutional right to ask questions. Even with all of its great purposes, the Nigerian consulate was failed in many ways by the Segun Vaughn-led Nigerian Foundation of Houston.
The Human Rights and Freedom Congress of Africa (HRFCA) demands that all Nigerians be treated fairly and respectfully and be saved from the high and arbitrary levies and punitive fees charged on a government service by the Houston Nigerian Foundation, a community, non-profit organization, whose leaders collect monies without issuing anyone any receipt for the monies collected by them. Therefore, technically, may not be reported as revenue to the IRS. We will be watching and monitoring the Segun Jimmie Vaughn led group.
Commander Michael ‘Okwukogu’ Orji,
Executive Director of the Human Rights and Freedom Congress of Africa (HRFCA).