NIGERIA: The Brain-Drain Phenomenon And The Economy – Suleiman Ahmed (UK)

 

People are going to migrate. It is part of life. However, there’s trouble when every young person is willing to leave because they no longer see a future in their own country. It is even worse when some analysts are saying it is not that bad because “they will send back dollars to help grow the economy.”

*Dr. Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s minister of labour

PEGASUS REPORTERS, LAGOS | SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

It is short term thinking to say that brain drain may not be that bad because our professionals abroad will send money back home, or be good ambassadors to Nigeria abroad. 

India subsidises their best technical college (probably as good as Stanford and Cambridge), only for the best amongst them to leave for Silicon Valley. I don’t think the digital revolution would have picked up the way it did without those Indian exports. Many big tech executives in the world are Indians. But when you compare the benefits on a macro level, you would see that America, the UK and the EU have benefitted a lot more than India.

The best India is getting are CEOs of big techs and their smiling faces on glossy magazines, and a few change back home as remittance, but nearly half the country’s population still don’t have toilets to poo-poo. When you compare the value of the software products they’ve helped to build to the remittance they’re sending home, then you’d understand what I mean. If half of those Indian talents were given the right tools and encouraged by their government to stay back to fix their country, as the Chinese did, India would have gone far and made progress like China is making. 

China doesn’t educate their kids to serve the west, the way India is doing with their tech professionals, and Nigeria, with their doctors. Rather, they have created the environment and nationalist consciousness, which motivates their young people to stay behind to rebuild their country. They are educating them to serve China and the Chinese people. They even went further to encourage many young Chinese-Americans to return home, which many took.

You’ll hardly ever find ethnic British, Oxford graduates or White-American, Harvard graduates dreaming of going to work in India, China or Russia just so that they can send forex back home for investment. Rather, they dream of creating companies that would solve complex problems, and make their countries richer and better. Only a myopic country will say that our best and brightest are better off in the west so that they can send dollars back home.

Aren’t we supposed to be dreaming of solving important problems as well? Who’s going to help eradicate malaria for good, produce affordable solar energy, handle waste management and recycling, educate our children and run our schools? Who’s going to help us navigate the complex new world if our best is out there doing it for America?

People are going to migrate. It is part of life. However, there’s trouble when every young person is willing to leave because they no longer see a future in their own country. It is even worse when some analysts are saying it is not that bad because “they will send back dollars to help grow the economy.” 

We need to change this method of thinking. Our government need to find ways to encourage our young talents to stay back and work in Nigeria. They also need to go further to encourage Nigerians abroad to return home. Not everyone may take it, but if the government is serious, and the opportunity is good, many would. We are not here to serve the west. We should not be educating our kids as some export commodity to the west. Our talents should be serving Nigeria and Nigerians. Not America or Britain. Brain drain is evil and disastrous to a country, no matter how you look at it. This immediate gratification attitude is harming us.

Suleiman Ahmed is based in the UK and can be linked on Facebook

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