It is no longer news that the majority of the people leaving Nigeria today are those who are highly skilled, well educated and who constitute the echelon of the socio-economic class of the country.
Unfailingly, the exit of this class of Nigerians is starting to have significant effects on the country’s manpower and skills base.
This, in turn, will impact national development in the areas of social, economic and political growth.
A 2021 Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey by Africa Polling Institute (API) revealed that more than seven out of ten Nigerians would leave the country at the slightest opportunity, and this represents 73 percent of the entire population.
Another poll by API showed that 75 percent of Nigerians who left for Canada in 2020 left for better opportunities; 60 percent were due to heightened insecurity, 55 percent left for a better future for their children, 40 percent to further their education and 35 percent due to bad governance.
A report by UK immigration showed that the number of visas granted to Nigerians increased to 11,854 in June 2022 from 3,918 in December 2019.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) estimated the number of Nigerian international emigrants to be over 1.2 million in 2015, increasing to over 1.4 million in 2019.
According to the African Union (AU), in its Revised Policy Framework for Africa and Plan of Action (2018 to 2027), an estimated 70,000 skilled professionals emigrate from Africa each year.
The health care sector has been hit the hardest by the emigration trend, as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) puts the current ratio of doctors to patients at one doctor to 4,000 to 5,000 patients.
Out of the 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), more than half practice outside the country.
This automatically spells trouble for the nation’s health care as hospitals will be full of patients but few doctors to attend to them.
The mass emigration has also led to stunted growth in some sectors, like the technology industry, with lots of potential young professionals seeking better opportunities in the West. This is mainly because the government has not done enough in the area of investing in this sector to encourage young techies to stay and build.
As professionals continue to emigrate from the country, companies are losing many of their best workers who take years of training and skills to other countries.
As a result, organisations have to fill in these gaps with less experienced workers. On the good side, it helps to reduce unemployment numbers; on the bad side, organisations have to invest heavily in training their new hires.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently said Nigerians have spent a hefty sum of $3.5 billion on foreign education in the past seven years (June 2015 to August 2022).
Nigeria could have benefitted a lot from these monies lost to other countries on foreign education alone.
Also, the huge demand for foreign currency by those relocating has put a strain on the dollars in the foreign market, leading to a high exchange rate in the parallel market.
Irrespective of these many disadvantages, when supported by appropriate policies, migration can contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in both home and host communities.
Asides from the brain drain problem, increased diaspora remittances, an upgrade in remuneration for loyal employees, decline in the level of unemployment in the source country among others are ways emigration can benefit Nigeria’s economy.
Steps to take
Lots of Nigerians will continue to ‘japa‘ unless proactive steps are taken to stem the whirlwind of resignations in organisations across various sectors in the country.
This can only happen if public and private sector organisations and human resources practitioners adopt quality measures to retain the country’s best talents.
Governments and organisations also need to massively invest in technology to accommodate remote work systems.
The reasons for ‘japa’ include the yearning for a decent environment, power, access to better education and other opportunities and the ability to afford a standard way of life.
This is to say that if the Nigerian government can address these concerns, citizens will be willing to stay back in the country and contribute to its development.
Photo source: Nairametrics