By Vera Samuel Anyagafu & Prisca Sam-Duru
IT is no news that in spite of the stereotypes and misrepresentations of Nigerians abroad, brought about by few unscrupulous individuals, there are a good number of Nigerians making the country proud in their respective countries of abode.
It is also no news that a good number of Nigerians wishing to live abroad by all means, do so by obtaining admissions into foreign universities but end up not attending school for a day. The fake admission only becomes a means to an end as they end up on the streets without a means of livelihood and are eventually deported.
To stem the ugly tide, Dr Niyi Kolawole, a lecturer/researcher in the Department of Sociology, University College Cork, Cork Ireland and Executive Director of Solid-link Consulting, Janvari, Knocknahorgan Wood Sallybrook, Cork, Ireland, disclosed during his visit to Nigeria that aside the huge impact his organisation has made in terms of equipping Nigerian students studying in Ireland with quality education, it has also helped to discourage illegal migration and fake admissions abroad. This it has done by ensuring that students who are not ready to go to school are never linked with any institution.
Explaining why Solid-Link Consulting was established he said, “Every year in Nigeria we have more than one million students leaving secondary schools and unfortunately, we don’t have enough higher institutions to absorb them. What happens is that individuals with the wherewithal send their children abroad to study.
Victims of exploitation
So what we do is to create a solid link for interested people to get the background information about quality, desired and globally recognised institutions so as to make the right choice. For instance, the university where I lecture was established in 1845 and it is globally recognised.
Most of the time, Nigerians are desperate to study abroad such that they become victims of exploitation. With my help as an insider, students under our care never regret the services we render. Besides, I know what it takes to go to school both within and outside Nigeria.”
Solid link which helps in linking prospective students with approved higher institutions abroad to avoid exploitations, provides services in the areas of visa application, accommodation and pick-up from Airports. Other specific services include basic consulting (getting to know the student’s interest, be it art, music, medicine, etc and then matching him or her with suitable institutions), Standard link which takes care of admission processes until the student is admitted, and Pastoral Service which entails helping the students study the environment, prevent culture shock, protect them and helps them to withstand the pressure of freedom until the student fully acclimatises. For young students, Kolawole noted, the organisation goes as far as putting them in the care of nannies who ensure they do not stray.
With strong passion for quality education, the Sociologist with speciality in understudying foreign countries’ immigration, said that “The decline in Nigeria education system and moral values spurred him into setting up Solid link which is in existence for over a year. His mission is to build students with all round empowerment, independent and productive thinkers who would bring back the expertise home and build a better Nigeria.
“We also aim to ensure that Nigerian students get education that will not lock them into a corner but holistic”, he expressed, adding that, “SolidLink is here to help groom individuals who could think outside the box and bring back their expertise home and make a difference in the country. And to encourage excellence, we plan to give scholarships to bright students who lack the resources to study in Ireland.”
On the issue of whether, his venture is not one that promotes capital fight, Kolawole posited that “At the moment, we cannot avoid capital flight because the country is still trying to develop. We need to meet our educational needs, we have shortage of institutions, lecturers and poor remuneration. What we need to do is ensure that we direct capital flight such that it comes back to the country.” In order words, Solid-Link encourages students to excel in their studies enough to fill in spaces being occupied by expatriates in Nigeria.”