Brain drain: Big hurdle to realising Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020?

(By Bologi Christiana Alli)

Every emigrant had his own peculiar reason for ‘abandoning’ his fatherland. Some were political conformists fleeing irrational government,social critics who left because security agents were hot on their trails,productive scholars who were forced out by their jealous colleagues and insecure seniors, and some, tough graders fleeing from the cultism and incessant strikes of our universities. This list, being by no means exhaustive, brings about one conclusion: our systems are weak; the economy is stagnant and failing; the polity unstable; educational systems below standard and the health sector massacred, to mention but a few. Is it thus a mystery that these skilled people, lacking the right places to apply such levels of skill and intellect go abroad seeking better opportunities?This brings about the rational inference that first of all, our weak systems are our first obstacles or hurdles as they eventually lead to the brain drain.

To Nigerians in Diaspora, Philip Emeagwali said, “Africa needs your vision far more than your knowledge. Africa has more teachers than visionaries,but needs more visionaries than teachers…”

An imagery of a straw inserted in a person’s brain and sucking out all theintellect comes readily to my mind whenever I think of brain drain.However, this concept goes beyond such ridiculous imagery. Brain drain, as defined by Standard dictionary, is “loss of skilled intellectual and technical labour through the movement of such labour to more favorable geographic, economic, or professional environs  depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel; a gradual depletion of energy or resources; a drain of young talent by emigration.” Brain drain has been looked at as a euphemism of some sort used to describe a rather serious situation where a nation loses its intellectual and skilled citizens to‘greener pastures.

’Nigeria has a vision, which, in summary, sees Nigeria as one of the leading 20 economies in the world by the year 2020 through the accomplishment of its 20 points agenda, which include eradication of poverty, value orientation and the growth of the private sector, with the government acting as supervisors of a sort.

Rather fallacious it would seem to take the position that there is no brain drain in Nigeria, as realistically, there is. However, the focus of this article is to point out that notwithstanding the brain drain, Nigeria can realise her Vision 20:2020; hence, brain drain is not a big hurdle to the realisation of Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020.

Every emigrant had his own peculiar reason for ‘abandoning’ his fatherland. Some were political conformists fleeing irrational government,social critics who left because security agents were hot on their trails,productive scholars who were forced out by their jealous colleagues and insecure seniors, and some, tough graders fleeing from the cultism and incessant strikes of our universities. This list, being by no means exhaustive, brings about one conclusion: our systems are weak; the economy is stagnant and failing; the polity unstable; educational systems below standard and the health sector massacred, to mention but a few. Is it thus a mystery that these skilled people, lacking the right places to apply such levels of skill and intellect go abroad seeking better opportunities?This brings about the rational inference that first of all, our weak systems are our first obstacles or hurdles as they eventually lead to the brain drain.

According to the UNDP Human Development report, from 1960 to 2010, there was a migration of about 1.3 million people from Nigeria to other nations  for several reasons, some of which have been mentioned, yet our last census brought our population to approximately 160 million people, showing thus, that we lost less than 1 per cent of our population. It then follows that we still have adequate human capital, which we require for the achievement of our vision. Just recently, four Nigerian teenage girls developed a urine powered generator; evidence of the fact that we still have intellectuals and skilled people in Nigeria and brain drain can be positively viewed as an opportunity for the development and orientation of fresher minds and intellect who will eventually lead to the actualisation of our vision.

In accordance with our vision, Nigeria is to have developed in every respect in the areas mentioned, leading ultimately to the eradication of poverty and increase in the standard of living of Nigerians, which is at present depleted. Brain drain has done Nigeria some financial good. In 1999, according to the 10th Annual Report of Conference of Nigerian People and Organisations (CONPO), Nigeria received about $168 million from remittance through Western Union. Wikipedia puts the figure at about $372 billion in 2011 in remittance to developing countries.    These monies coming into Nigeria were being invested one way or the other in capital investments and development, indirectly bringing about the achievement of one of the long-term goals of the vision.

The realisation of the vision requires patriotic people; people ready to see and be the change. Those who classify as brain-drained are those who either went to school abroad and never returned or who, being trained in Nigeria left for better opportunities. I daresay that these people are not patriots and have failed to put Nigeria first and apply what they have gained for the betterment and development of the Nigerian systems. The likes of Pa Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, FRA Williams, Adetokunbo Ademola and Emeritus Professor I.O Agbede show that real patriots give Nigeria the better chunk of their skills and knowledge. Our unpatriotic emigrants are not the type of people to bring about the realisation of our Vision 20:2020. This is because the vision can only be achieved by a

national effort and not a little intellectual effort. It has nothing to do with a few people who left the country; it is rather a vision that covers the entire nation, leaving no one out. It is focused on national prosperity and has technology, agriculture, infrastructure, oil and gas,education, power, etc. as its major imports and all these things can only be achieved by the integration of the larger majority.

My recommendation, therefore, is to veer from the concept of brain drain and focus on our weak systems. The concentration and improvement of these systems will eventually turn our brain drain to brain gain and lead to the exchange of intellectual ideas, attraction of our citizens and foreigners, and invariably, the development of our economy, which is practically the achievement of the vision. Secondly, all Nigerians should imbibe the spirit of nationality and patriotism vis-à-vis a deep love for Nigeria and a sincere thirst to see her develop. This should be followed by overt acts in the right direction. Then our nation will soar, and our vision realised. Therefore, just as a headache is not a disease in itself but a symptom of one, brain drain is not the disease but a symptom of a developing or existing disease. It should not be used as an excuse but should be tackled earnestly. Our vision can indeed be realised. The big question is, would you rather be brain drained or make your brain a gain to the Nigerian vision?

• Bologi Christiana Alli is a 400 level Law student at Babcock University,Ogun State.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

RISE NETWORKS

"Nigeria's Leading Private Sector and Donor funded Social Enterprise with deliberate interest in Technology and its relevance to Youth and Education Development across Africa. Our Strategic focus is on vital human capital Development issues and their relationship to economic growth and democratic consolidation." Twitter: @risenetworks || Facebook - RISE GROUP || Google Plus - Rise Networks