By - Aderonke Ajibade
A a little over a year ago now, I was scheduled to sit for a foreign scholarship examination in the city of Ibadan, with numerous other people in the country (a government instituted brain drain system). Before the exams, I did have some conversations with a number of fellow young Nigerians on many issues, to kill our exam fever and uncertainties. As youths about to leave the country (if we passed the exams), some were eagerly happy but some had mixed feelings, as if they were not willing to relinquish the status of mummy shildren. But one feeling we all shared was the expected freedom and a more tangible hope for a better future. At last, it was a chance to be free from the country and it’s many wahala.
We got a-talking and I was awestruck to find out that 65% of the examiners have no intention to come back to the country and make good use of the training they will get in the foreign countries. There were choices of Japan, China, Australia, Hungary…. for one course of study or the other with the hope that we will come back to our home country and develop the economy in accordance to what would be learned during the training but the naija youths had their own hidden agenda. Many of them said “I am not coming back to Nigeria o”; some suggested they will work themselves into any organisation so they would be retained and automatically become legal migrants when their study permit expired. I was surprised and realised that Nigeria’s had come to be a perfect example of a brain drained one economy. Such a waste of intellectuals! Huh…curious to know why I am still in Nigeria, come and ask me in camera…
As if that experience was not enough, a colleague of mine told of how a friend of his almost had his head cut when he asked innocently when she will arrive Nigeria from Turkey. According to my colleague, she responded that Nigerians are daily wishing to leave the country that she is lucky enough to leave and he is asking when she is coming back; questioning his love for her progress. Her statement, though not offensive, sounded like the country is a rotten rag that must not be seen on any one. What has happened to the giant of Africa so quick? We could boast of sound education, sound health care system, sound institutions, I heard about how the Togolese came in large numbers to find greener pastures in Nigeria; what about the Ghanaians before they were made to leave Nigeria? They saw the country as a safe haven to make cool cash, but now, it has become a fairy tale to this generation.
For anyone who is new to the term, ‘Brain drain’ means the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration. This horrid trend is considered a problem, because the highly skilled and competent individuals leave the country, and contribute their expertise to the economy of other countries, thereby leaving their home country underdeveloped or striving to drive into maturity. Nigeria truly deserve some accolades for being a brain drained economy, it is no longer news about how the health sector, for instance, has been affected adversely due to the alarming rate at which doctors are registering in other western countries to have a greener pasture: better rewarding work and working tools, environment. It is a crying shame that despite the country’s flag colour being green, the pasture’s colour is anything but green. Maybe it was stained by the crude.
According to the research carried out by Africa Check, the number of Nigeria doctors registering in the UK has increased by 10% in the past year. The increment has doubled over the previous years. since June 2017, an average of 12 qualified Nigerian doctors signed up to work in the UK every week. Africa Check looked at doctors signing up with the General Medical Council in the UK and found this sharp increase. It was reported by the organisation that in the five years before 2016, around 200 Nigerian doctors registered in the UK annually. In 2017, that number jumped to 439. It is a drastic increase that needs to be checked. Little wonder the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has raised the alarm over the low ratio of medical doctors to patients in the country. The country has a ratio of one medical doctor to 6000 people which is largely inadequate and far below the standard of World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of one doctor to 600 people in a community, Nigeria plays by 10 multiplication table in reverse; the economy is ten times below the global standard.
The alarming rate at which Nigeria lost intellects to brain drain process is a showcase of irresponsible leaders and an indication that the masses is never their priority. In the health sector, on average 12 qualified Nigerian doctors signed up to work in the UK every week because of the degradation in the system; the high rate of taxes, the small salaries, yet government owe the health workers despite the small remuneration compared to services rendered. There is low satisfaction derived at work, no enough protective gadgets for health workers in case of highly communicable diseases. So, tell me who will see a better place and remember patriotism without taking the next flight?
Although, the health sector suffers more from this menace, other sectors are definitely not faring better. If you are yet to meet Dr. Osatohanmwen Osemwengie, I will hint you about him in a jiffy. A man from Benin, Edo state, Nigeria, he is an integral member of the American Armed Forces. He builds drones for the United States Army, which are used for surveillance to gather important information, as well as take out terrorist camps. No one needs to tell anyone how powerful the US Army are when it comes to war, fighting terrorism and engaging in security. Of course, the army is strong and one of our own makes up the team that makes them strong. Nigeria government knows the road to seek for support when it comes to fighting insurgencies from the US army but does not know how to strengthen the country to avoid suck leakage of intellects.
What about Mubarak Bashir, a Nigerian who is a flight instructor in the same USA? He is a 23-year old native of Sitti in Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria. He was retained by the Aerosim Flight Academy USA as the first African /Nigerian flight instructor. Yet, in the country there are immeasurable issues in the aviation system. Should one start with the ordeal of the passengers of Dana airline whose exit door forcefully removed while landing. If the plane was still in the air, the country would have recorded another loss of lives to plane crash. Same week, the same airline plane crashed while landing and the management blamed the rain for the crash landing and we have gurus that are instructors in the USA. My questioning mind seeks to ask: Nigeria, why neglect your scholars?
One can mention names on and on but what about the innovations that are still in the prototype stage. Young Nigerians put themselves into innovating things to solve one economic problem or the other, yet no further investment in such; the innovations all end being a prototype. So, who will see a responsible government that has an interest in his innovations and not seek to explore the deal? How about scholarship schemes in the country? Other countries invest in their potential students through scholarships for a course that is needful in the economy. For example, China may give scholarships to their students to go to Western countries to learn how to build an Artificial Intelligence Machine to carry out some activities in the economy. The student will go for the training knowing full well that there is an advantage needed to be added to his economy but in this part of the world there is no objective scholarship scheme. The government should send students on scholarship basis to learn what will be beneficial to the economy, it should cease to be a tour or a show but for business!
For how long do we seek to sit back and watch other countries use our young people and scholars to develop? The economy is drastically losing it intellects in the brain drain process and the governments thinking only of the next election; they are relaxed, watching the economy lose its beautiful ones to the outsiders ready to cajole them to party. It is either now or never; the process of making the country simple for everyone must begun, to revamp the economy. Make Nigeria a home for scholars to practise their arts and sciences and things will change. Enough said!
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