BRAIN DRAIN AND THE DIASPORAL CHALLENGE!
Justine John DYIKUK
On Monday, January 9, 2012, the Africa Review, (powered by Nation Media Group, Kenya) carried a caption “Ghana turns away Nigerian – ‘beggars'” by one Francis Kokkutse, from Accra. It claimed the action was occasioned by the cut on fuel subsidy which compelled many Nigerians to flee to neighboring Ghana, in search of greener pastures.
According to the report, the five unwelcomed immigrants, a group of self-described beggars were arrested on arrival at the Ghanaian border town of Aflao. Consequent upon their arrest, they were taken to the Circuit Court that ordered their immediate deportation after imposing a fine of $ 7.50 on each of them who pleaded guilty of breaking immigration laws. Further revelation by Police prosecutor Michael Akemo, has it that they told the court that they escaped to Ghana to run away from harsh economic conditions in their country of origin (Nigeria). What is more worrisome is that it was claimed that their financial challenges would be a burden to the Ghanaian public.
Commenting on above episode, one Bose Amosu, a Nigerian business man based in Ghana said, “All this is an indictment of a government that is supervising an oil economy that produces 2 million barrels a day and yet cannot manage it well for the people to enjoy the little comfort they can get.” This is one, out of many sorry stories of Nigeria, a country that conceits itself as the ‘pride’ of Africa.
Even though going abroad for whatever plausible reasons is not a misdemeanor, the above ‘Ghana must go’ drama of our five compatriots and the comment of Amosu, a fellow Nigerian in the diaspora, lives much to be desired. Our best brains keep running abroad to escape economic austerity and the offensive of insecurity among other good things of life, for a land flowing with milk and honey. This is perhaps one among the many reasons for the mass exodus of Nigerians out of the country. This piece intends to make a case against these phenomena and posit a possible panacea.
The diasporal challenge and the evil of brain drain
It is no longer news that Nigerians constantly talk of American Visa or keep seeking both legitimate and illegitimate ways of leaving the country, all in search for a better life. For most Nigerians, leaving the shores of Nigeria will do magic to their myriad malaise. In their bid to elope from an unwillful intended/forced wedding to their nation, some have died enroute Spain via Morocco. Others have lost their lives struggling to flee in ships or cargoes. We also read and hear about boats that have capsized somewhere in the sea or people dying in the Sahara desert in a bid to abscond from home for finding a blissful life overseas. Gruesome tales of our fellow citizens breathing their last due to atrocious treatments abroad, is a misery worth contemplating and acting upon. Though many dynamics are responsible for this ugly state of affairs, this article shall consider just a few:
Foreign deposits of looted funds abroad: It is no longer news to hear that a considerable number of our leaders deposit looted monies abroad. This selfish attitude in most African countries is occasioned by bad leadership. The ritual of the hitherto Swiss bank saga is one that one can never forget easily. More sophisticated ways of thievery and robbery of Nigeria by some of our principal officers are only indicative of a people in danger. A good number have devised a means of stockpiling Nigerian money abroad via buying mansions they may never occupy. The alleged mansions purportedly bought to the tone of 20 Million Euro in Vienna, Austria by the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke and that of the former EFCC boss, Rilwanu Lukeman, for an amount only God knows, is not only a bad signal but a further negative development of the institutionalization of bribery and corruption by those put in position of public trust.
Unemployment: The high rate of unemployment in Nigeria is an ugly force to contend with. The relationship between the soaring rate of unemployment in Nigeria and the mass exodus of Nigerians to foreign countries has a necessary connect. The former has been blamed for general hardship, armed robbery, the Niger Delta militancy and the boko haram imbroglio. No thanks to the upsurge of miscreants in society and the evils of, civil, religious and ethnic violence.
The ‘white man is more superior’ mentality: There is this superfluous notion that white people are more open, honest, hardworking, intelligent, blessed, cultured and civilized than there African counterparts. One could even hear an African for instance saying, “We are black in color as in conscience.” This naive and sickly mindset may not be far from why many of our young, qualified and talented Africans would want to leave home, for a more sophisticated and superior culture or civilization. What manner of thinking!
Inferiority complex: The superiority we accord the white is informed by inferiority complex on our part. In a paper titled ‘Will Africa Ever Catch Up?,’ Dr. Bedford N. Umez, renowned author and a diasporal Professor of Government, Lee College, Baytown, Texas, and University of Phoenix, Houston Campus as well as the founder of Liberating the African mind, LAM, and Nigerian Leadership Council, NLC, blames the mass exodus of Nigerians out of the country to inferiority complex and lack of self-confidence indoctrinated in our schools.
This inferiority complex otherwise known as mental slavery is responsible for lack of stable governance in many an African State. Why do we keep insisting on African time for instance? According Prof. Umez, to the Liberating African Mind (www.LiberateAfrica.org), “there is nothing like ‘African time.’ It insists that “African time is nothing other than ‘selective punctuality’ ROOTED in inferiority complex.” This is akin to lack of self-confidence which is why non-Nigerians wisely refuse to invest here for reasons of corruption and violence while our rich supposedly nearest and dearest sheepishly yet ‘proudly’ invests our money and resources abroad. So while the former’s is a safe haven for investment, ours is some limbo unsure of seeing the resurrection light. The terrible consequences of inferiority complex occasioned by low self-esteem, in Africa, especially in Nigeria are not only shameful but a sad commentary.
Reactions to the Diasporal Challenge
On Thursday, 21 April 2011, BBC Africa did an editorial on, “Working abroad: Is it worth the risk?” It observed that, “Every year more Africans leave their home countries in search of greener pastures. But sadly many of them end up working and living under horrendous circumstances in foreign countries.” It further, questioningly asked; “Is the benefit of working abroad worth the risk? What price are you willing to pay for a bigger salary? How do you assess the risk of working in another country? And who is responsible for the welfare of migrant workers when things go wrong?” After establishing the fact of running for a sweeter life, it sampled about sixteen opinions on the debate: “experiences of working abroad – be they good or bad.”
One Jawikondiek, wrote; “East or West, home is best. However, only professionals stand a better chance of being comfortable working abroad. Nevertheless, getting comfort while at home is more fulfilling than while abroad. Moving to a place like Europe to babysit, fumigate pig stys or to wash the elderly is quite demeaning and should be out of question to anyone who deserves respect.”
“Why should I go out of my country to work in another man’s country where there is no job security, where I’ll have to be always looking out for the police and running away from their site; why should I leave behind my educational qualification and go and work for a lower based job? I’ll rather stay in my country and look for a job to do and if I am not able to find one, I just have to create one for myself by using my skills, wrote, Adokters.
On his part, Olulere Adewale opined; “Migration has been happening throughout the world for ages (even in the bible) due to security or economic(s) reason in most cases. When African stakeholders fail to address the issue of sustainable population and resource management, we will continue in this dehumanizing abuse. I nearly wept when I saw (an) Ivorian in asylum camp in Russia being abused.
“The question is what will (an) African youthful energy be looking for all over the world, if the system make(s) most African nation(s) peaceful and prosperous? A student said in Abiola’s lecture on repatriation at OAU, Ile-Ife, Nigeria in 1992. ‘We are talking of forceful shipment of Africans to slavery, if a ship is at the wharf today with promise to take (an) African to most part(s) of the world for whatever excuse, the ship will be full within three hours no matter how big she is, with people stampede and bribing to get in.’ This is very sorry state of many African countries. When will African nations become net attraction for Capital including labor?” Adewale, concludes. What perceptive and insightful revelations!
For Sahawe, reports the BBC debate, notwithstanding the poverty of Africa, “…if in this 21st century, African countries can take stock of how far they have come especially after colonization and what they have accomplished, it would enable them to realize in some cases how let down Africans feel. The definite lack of socio-economic opportunities forces people to seek ‘greener pastures’ outside of their home countries whether they are professionals or not – Africans need to read and listen to real life stories that overseas is not really a bed of roses as has often been portrayed in the media.”
While creating a conducive ambiance is an unparalleled venture, if the likes of Dr. Bedford Umez, will come backhome, the young will be greatly motivated. Our sentiments must recognize and salute the courage of the likes of Aliko Dangote, Wale Adenuga, Raymond Dokpesi who have despite all challenges, insisted in investing in the Nigerian dream; providing many Nigerians employment.
To place the right peg in the right hole, we must in public and private lives, learn to deal with the problems of poor governance, which breeds looting of public funds; unemployment, the incubator of civil disturbance; education for self-confidence and sustenance and the recognition cum reward of hard work, which is an all important motivator of excellence. We must discover our sanctuary here and give our 21st century youth reasons to stay behind and offer sacrifice for the succor and survival of their fatherland. Ray Power FM, wraps it up in a timeless dictum: “social and economic transformation can only thrive in an atmosphere of peace” and this (peace) we must insure. The DIASPORAL CHALLENGE will be a mirage only when we make visible now, vestiges of the Nigeria of our dream; perhaps only then, will the BRAINS stop DRAINING!
N B: This articles has been published by Elombah.com
Fr. Justine John DYIKUK, a Catholic Priest and a Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Bauchi!