Explainer: Why most Nigerians leave for greener pastures

The migration of Nigerians seeking greener pastures abroad is no news but the rate at which they are leaving poses a cause for concern, as they play a vital role in the growth and development of an economy.

Africa’s biggest economy is blessed with a large, vibrant, and young population which comprise more than 65 percent of its population. But sadly the economic challenges in the country have failed to develop them mentally and economically, forcing them to immigrate to other countries for greener pastures.

According to a recent survey by the World Bank, 50 percent of Nigerian youths want to leave the country. The country placed third in West Africa among the nations polled, trailing only Liberia (70%) and Sierra Leone (60%).

Likewise in terms of visas issued to the UK, Nigeria recorded a rise of 234.7 percent to 18,580 in the first nine months of 2021 from 5,551 in the same period of 2019.

Here are five reasons why most Nigerian youths are leaving the country:


The high rate of poverty in the country has made people more miserable than they were a few years ago.

According to the World Bank, in 2018 around 82.9 million Nigerians were extremely poor, and that number had risen to 90 million in 2021 due to high inflationary prices.

And it is expected to increase by 11 million by 2022. Nigeria’s inflation rate of 15.6 percent in December 2021 is among the highest in the world.

High unemployment

Having a good and decent job is the right of every Nigerian youth but sadly there are not enough of these jobs as educated Nigerians are struggling to find employment opportunities in the country.

Insufficient jobs had made the youth unemployment rate to be at a record high of 42.5 percent. And the impact of unemployment has led to a sporadic increase in social vices ranging from armed robbery, banditry, and kidnapping, which makes it difficult for the Federal Government to attract the investment needed for job creation.

Poor human capital development

Nigeria’s investment towards human development has not been remarkable over the years as its budgetary allocation to education has not been more than 7 percent of its total budget.

The poor investments in education also affect the country’s ranking in human development as it dropped three positions, ranking 161 in 2019 from 158 in 2018 among 189 countries in Human Development, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It is no wonder that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the country had the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

It is evident that countries that invest heavily in human development have witnessed high per capita incomes, low unemployment rates, and strong economic growth e.g Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Canada, etc.

Poor education

The challenges in the education sector, especially in the public one such as access, quality, funding, strikes, cultism, and stability of the academic calendar have led to a steady rise in the outflow of Nigerian students seeking post-secondary education abroad.

According to a recent Open Doors Report, published by the Washington-based Institute of International Education (IIE), enrolment from Nigeria to American universities has been on an increase.

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Currently, there are 12,860 Nigerian students studying in the US, up 83 percent from 7,028 in the 2011/2012 academic year.

This has also made the country to be among the countries with the highest number of students studying in America. And due to Nigerians having high intellectual capacity, they help foreign universities to be more competitive in the global economy.


Over the last few years, Nigeria has recorded further deteriorations in peacefulness. And the economy is the chief victim of all the violent attacks.

According to a 2021 Global Peace Index, the country ranked eighth among the least peaceful countries in Africa, as insecurity challenges heightened.

The high unemployment and poverty rate led to the rise in criminal activities. And this has made it on the track to becoming a shadow economy that is an economy full of crime.

In 2021, the number of people killed surged year-on-year by 47 percent to 10,366 in 2021, according to data compiled by SBM Intelligence.

Likewise, data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) show that about 1,200 people were kidnapped in the first half of 2021 from 45 in 2010.