By Dakuku Peterside
Forced migration and its concomitant enslavement of the Africans was a blight on the world’s collective conscience between the 1500s and 1800s. The repercussions still reverberate through time to the present. Africans are calling for payment of reparations to their motherland by the European powers to date.
It is paradoxical that the ships of the slave masters were filled with unwilling and forced migrants, brutally repressed and tortured to keep them on board, yet some would rather drown than move away from their motherland and a place they consider home.
A friend once told me that if the US or the UK berths a ship on the shores of Nigeria today and asks young people if they want to leave Nigeria and migrate to their countries on the said ship, the number of people who will voluntarily go on board the ship will sink it. The struggles, fights, and shovelling that will be seen will make “Wrestlemania” look like a child’s play. As sad as this assumption is, statistics back its fundamental realities.
A recent PEW research survey reveals that about 45% of Nigeria’s adult population plans to relocate to another country within five years. Of the 12 countries surveyed from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America, Nigerians ranked highest among people who desperately want to relocate to some other countries. In another study in 2021, it was revealed that seven in every 10 Nigerians planned to relocate if the opportunity presents itself.
A new report by the UK government showed that the 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers granted working visas within the last year (2021) are second only to the 42,966 from India. According to the UK immigration report released last Thursday, Nigeria is second only to Indians in the number of visas granted for the ‘Skilled Worker – Health & Care’ category with 14 % (13,609) of the total. Recent official data from Canadian immigration sources indicate that 12,595 Nigerians relocated to Canada alone in 2019. Applications for permanent residency by Nigerians in Canada in 2015 were 4,000. By 2019, the number had climbed to 15,595, an increase of over 214.9%.
The recent wave of Nigerians relocating out of the country represents the largest movement of people out of the country since the end of the civil war, over fifty years ago. What is significant is the profile of those who are relocating. They are primarily skilled youth, including doctors, nurses, IT engineers, university lecturers and technicians. They also include young people who completed their studies abroad and opted to stay back because our country has nothing to offer them regarding jobs, opportunities, or even basic safety. Some of them have been educated in elite universities at home and abroad. This demographic is more debilitating for our national development prospects.
The primary strategic concern of our increasing demographic haemorrhage is the emigration of skilled Nigerian youth. The people on whom our future depends are leaving. Our best energies and brains are being drained. Our IT wiz kids, medical scientists, economists, biotechnologists, academics, etc. are flooding flights headed out to better climes. Many of them have no plans of returning home in any hurry. A certain disturbing pessimism that this place will not get better any time soon pervades the attitude of many of these fleeing youth. They are leaving because the place we call home has degenerated into a hell hole of calamities, devoid of opportunities or hope.
Five major factors seem to be fuelling this voluntary migration from Nigeria, which has never occurred post-World War 11. These factors include the desire for better career opportunities, heightened insecurity in the country, the desire to provide a better future for one’s children, the need for further education, and poor governance in the country. To underscore these points, a cursory look at Nigeria’s economic statistics paints an ugly picture.
First, there are limited employment opportunities as the country’s unemployment rate rose five-fold (from 6.4% to 33.3%) between 2010 and 2020. Unemployment creates or increases the chances of poverty, and a rise in unemployment, as seen with Nigeria’s unemployment figure, means more people are being pushed under the poverty line. In recent months, unemployment and poverty primarily affect the youth, and crippling inflation has exacerbated the problem. Inflation has moved from about 7% a decade ago to over 20.52% lately( August 2022), forcing more people into poverty.
The security challenge is worsening by the day with constant escalations of societal tension by the activities of kidnappers, bandits, secessionists, terrorists, and other forms of criminality. The insecurity level has become a significant concern, with the death toll in nine months reaching 8,281 and 3,490 persons kidnapped in only eight months in 2021. ASUU has been on strike for almost nine months now with no clear sense of direction. Therefore university students remain at home. The only option to escape these peculiar Nigerian problems is to “Japa”( a Yoruba slang for escape).
If Nigeria’s socio-political and economic climate remains averse and strangulating, young people, even middle-career parents, will abandon Nigeria and relocate at the slightest opportunity. This trend is not likely to end soon. Tragically, the areas worst hit by the current wave of migrations are the most strategic for our nation. We may quickly lose our competitive and comparative advantages in IT, Engineering, Medicine, and other highly skilled jobs due to their emigrating in droves. In years to come, the opportunity cost of this migration may be too high to contemplate.
The irony in some cases is that most of these people travelling received their training and education in public institutions funded by the Nigerian government, and the developed countries will simply reap the rewards that ought to accrue to Nigeria (a reversed aid from Nigeria to developed countries). Those from families that can afford to cover the costs of studying (expended huge sums of foreign exchange to educate) or working abroad have no plans of ever returning to Nigeria soon. The demand pull for skilled migration is high. With an ageing population in most developed countries, a dearth of professionals and highly skilled workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) areas, and the advantages of a diverse workforce, the developing countries are in demand of professionals with the suitable skills base and English language proficiency.
The Nigerian government appears unperturbed by the outbound migration of its professionals and young people. The number of passports issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service rose by 38% between 2020 and 2021. This increased from 767,164 to 1,059,607 passports issued in 2020 and 2021, respectively. This is an indication that more people are planning to move out of the country. The government, in terms of policies and actions, is not putting anything on the ground to stem this tide. It seems that the government has an alternative view of this mass migration.
The government seems to be towing the view that as a large country with a population of over 200 million people, it is a good thing to export its skilled labour. About 50,000 people leaving a country of 200m people annually should not be a red flag. Those left behind are more than the few who will make it out. However, it is this migrating group that ought to bother the government more.
Some argue that the next generation’s exodus will help increase diaspora remittances, which lately have been the booster to the national dollar reserve. Diaspora remittances reported by the CBN currently hover between $25bn and $30bn annually and still rising. The country can earn close to $100bn annually if it harnesses the remitting potentials of its various diasporas. The labour minister, Chris Ngige, affirmed this view when he told journalists last year that the country was exporting its best minds because it had a surplus of talents and, in any case, “when they go abroad, they earn money and send it back home here.”
Some Nigerians do not see anything wrong with this mass movement of skilled professionals, from peacetime to abroad. They argue that It’s the same way a generation of Nigerians once left the villages in droves for cities and urban centres across the country. Education, lack of employment opportunities and shrinking socio-economic conditions will ensure forced migration anyway.
India, a country facing a similar situation, has created a robust policy and institutional framework to reverse this trend which portends danger for the country’s future socio-economic development. Among the steps taken includes but are not limited to creating employment, attracting international companies to site industries in India, and creating awareness of the inevitable growth of India as a global economic powerhouse soon. The hope of a better Nigeria is a recipe for keeping young professionals from migrating, and this underscores the importance of the 2023 general election. The new breed of leaders that will emerge must inspire hope in the future of Nigeria.
The long-term solution to the Japa syndrome is multi-prong. It requires a fundamental renewal of the educational system at the tertiary level. It needs a shift of emphasis from certificate education to entrepreneurship education. We need at least eight years of uninterrupted inflow of foreign direct investment to create an average of 3 million to 5 million jobs per annum. Above all, it requires an onslaught on insecurity to enable internal migration of the factors of production especially labour and capital from one section of the country to others. Deliberate steps must be taken to improve the quality of social services in the short and medium term.
Taken together, these measures will help reverse long-term mass migration from the country by creating a conducive environment for citizens to pursue and realize their potential. They will also enable year-on-year gradual reversal through rights of return and homeward movements.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent