The quest for greener pastures by skilled professionals and individuals both young and old who have received advanced training in Nigeria has never been as alarming as we now have. Nigeria, just like other African countries have over the years been robbed of her best brains. These individuals move to developed countries like THE USA, UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia and use the basic and advanced knowledge they have benefitted from Nigeria to contribute to the host country.
This current trend has been attributed to some causes, which include; unsolved security challenges in Nigeria. The daily rise in the level of killing and constant destruction of properties of Nigerians with no sincere approach by the government in tackling this menace are seen as the main causes.
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Wage differential between Nigeria and receiving countries is so large that even increase in wages cannot affect migration to developed countries. Apart from wages, the working conditions are quite different. Work tools are fully provided for with advanced technology especially in the health sector, which explains the massive brain drain in our health sector. Unemployment and underemployment of Nigerian graduates is quite distasteful as many people see university education as a waste of time and resources since there are little or no jobs available. Young graduates have been subjected to being nursery school teachers with some receiving less than N15,000, which is less than 31 dollars as salary per month. While some others go back to become business apprentices after graduation.
Unstable and inconsistent government policies, which is usually based on sentiments without consideration to how it will affect local businesses. An example of this was the Twitter ban in Nigeria. A lot of young entrepreneurs who have their business platform on Twitter App have suffered huge financial losses and setbacks. Instability of the foreign exchange rates and continual dwindling of naira before against other currencies especially the dollar. This has affected the cost of living and skyrocketed the prices of items especially foodstuffs in the past two years. The superiority of these foreign currencies over naira entices one to acquire them to gain an economic edge. Direct and indirect beautiful reports of our people who are now working overseas to their relatives or through social media handles, which convey evidence of conducive work environments and good standard of living is another cause of brain drain in our nation.
This brain drain or personnel mobility has its own effects on our nation. It has resulted in the high rate of turnover in organisation as employees simply stay on the job for a few months in order to raise money to process their visas and travel tickets. This simply put so much pressure on the remaining workforce as more job descriptions are added to their already cumbersome job. Also, Nigerian-based businesses are collapsing on a daily basis as competent employees relocate. The cost of recruitment, onboarding, learning and development of new employees plus the time wasted while the new employee masters’ operation process of the business affects the revenue of the organisation. Although, one can argue that brain drain has a positive impact like remittances made by people abroad to their families here in Nigeria. But this cannot be fully captured well in the nation’s economy because there is no proper structured way for it to reflect in the nation’s GDP.
How then do we make Nigeria conducive and reduce the brain drain and labour mobility to developed countries? The security of lives and properties should top the priority list of the government. There should be a sincere and holistic approach to tackle the insecurity and bring to an end this menace.
Financial and economic policies should be taken with due consideration to the impact they will have on the populace and local businesses. A well-researched and widely consulted policy will also definitely attract foreign investments. Work environment should be well-equipped with up-to-date technological tools especially in government owned institutions like hospitals and medical centres. This will bring efficiency in service delivery and reduce medical tourism. Salaries should be made competitive and be paid as at when due. Government should provide higher education scholarship for indigent students, which is one of the attractions to developed countries. Academic research and development should be funded appropriately and given due attention. Nigeria should partner with indigenes who are currently in key job roles abroad and agree on brain sharing in order to develop the nation.
In conclusion, if a nation that bores the cost of providing basic and advanced training and education opportunities can as well provide career advancement and employment, the migration flow will definitely be reduced. Nevertheless, failure of the government and all actors in the economic system to address these issues, in ten years from now, Nigeria will just be a training ground and we will end up losing our vibrant youths to other nations as we saw in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games where athletes with Nigerian names represented other nations and won medals for their host countries which could have been ours.
Chiedochie Obi wrote through email@example.com from Lagos