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Guest Columnist :From Brain drain to brain damage

In the early 1990s, the discussion about brain-drain and checking out of Nigeria
to find better or greener pasture abroad was high and occupied the front
burners of national discuss. While some were shouting what a disservice it was
to us as a country, others were keen on getting the good out of life over there.
The issue did not appear as grave then as it is today but the damage and
impact of such massive movement of professionals is affecting all areas of our
life as a people.
Today, most government health facilities are bereaved of competent and top-
notch medical personnel capable of rendering quality services no wonder all
those who can afford it are seeking medical care overseas. The doctors who
are still hanging around are those who maybe struggling to attain one
certification or the other, those holding positions that are more beneficial to
them or those yet to perfect their ways on how to japa.
The poaching of our professional foundation is so terrible that now artisans
and our technicians have also joined in the search for greener pastures abroad.
Last week, a hairdresser who is quite popular in my neighborhood sold all her
equipment to enable her raise money to fund her relocation to USA. She was
told by the madam arranging her trip that she will be making as much as $1000
weekly and according to her with that kind of earning she will change the
fortune of her family back here in Nigeria in no distant future.
Just like the hairdresser going abroad, so are many other young, talented and
energetic Nigerians trooping out every other day. Scores have lost their lives in
the process while attempting to cross the Sahara Desert or via the Atlantic
Ocean.
Last year, when medical practitioners of all shades assembled at Sheraton
Hotel in Abuja to be interviewed by foreign employers, we laughed it off as
usual, saying that it is not possible but most of those who attended the
interview session are already over there enjoying ‘a better life’.
I hope we will not wake up one day and find that even our shoe shiners, nail-
cutters, including the fake Bishops and Clergymen have all gone abroad in
search of greener pastures.

The big question desperately begging for answer is ‘why are people relocating
to other countries?’ Are things that terrible in Nigeria, the giant of Africa? Or is
the country no longer working for them? During COVID-19, some countries
provided palliatives that cushioned the impact of the outbreak but what did we
do in Nigeria. We made billionaires out of the already rich while the poor
starved and wallowed in extreme poverty and lack.
The world is today witnessing a rise in cost of living, this is not limited to
Nigeria but as usual, our government does not care. The current salary of civil
servants was arrived at in the year 2000, 22 years after, government does not
think it is important to review it but remember, in year 2000, the price of a bag
of rice cannot be compared to today.
Our salaries are not commensurate with realities on ground and this has fueled
corruption at every level of government and made it possible for people to
take advantage of their offices to exhort money from innocent citizens and
steal our commonwealth.
Despite these challenges, we need to purposefully remain in Nigeria and
correct these wrongs, revise the system and make it better than what it used
to be. My friends from Europe would not understand why Nigerians should be
poor, here we buy and pay for things with cash, we do not owe debts as
obtainable in the western world, why should we be on queue all day long for
fuel, why should major political events in the country be happening when
university students are at home for no just reason, the country takes loan at
federal to state levels without recourse to the future of the generations
coming behind.
How did we arrive at this national deceit, which is gradually becoming an
acceptable standard for us? Do you remember the recent rice pyramid in
Abuja? How come we can’t find rice at affordable prices? When we had the
groundnut pyramid, was the situation like this?
Where is our National Orientation Agency (NOA), the organisation charged
with the responsibility of reviving our degraded morality, when will Nigerians
shift from a lack of faith to the commitment to make Nigeria work as a nation.
The phrase, Yes We Can, made popular in America during Obama’s
Administration can also be replicated in Nigeria because we can if we are
determined.

While people are being challenged to put in their best to turn Nigeria around,
it is incumbent on government to institute a national reawakening programme
that compulsorily makes right, right and wrong, wrong.

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