Nigeria’s middle class is jetting out to Canada in search of a better and more enabling social, economic and political environment where they can flourish and far from Africa’s most populous country that presents uncertainties about the future.
The middle-class comprises individuals and households who fall between the working class and the upper class within a societal hierarchy. They have a higher proportion of college or university degrees than those in the working class, more income available for consumption, and may own a property.
They are often employed as professionals, managers, and civil servants. While the United Nations uses the Global measures and outlines a middle class as someone who lives on US$10 – US$100, the African Development Bank (AFDB) which focuses on the African continent, measures the middle class as those who live on US$2 – US$20 a day.
A weak economy and insecurity have been identified as “push factors” underlying the rush to Canada, according to the latest study by Africa Polling Institute, an independent opinion research think-tank, “Deconstructing the Canada Rush: Motivations for Nigerians Emigrating to Canada. On the flip side, favourable Canadian immigration policies appear to also constitute a key enabler and “pull factor” attracting prospective migrants.
In total, 877 respondents participated in the online survey, across WhatsApp and Telegram groups of prospective migrants. Of this number, only 772 had already migrated or was considering migrating.
The analysis focused on the 772 individuals – including 490 males and 282 females – who have either migrated or are currently considering migrating out of Nigeria. The survey had more responses from prospective migrants (652 individuals or 84.4%) than from actual Nigerian migrants in Canada (120 individuals or 15.5%).
Canada has become a choice destination for Nigerians wishing to relocate. The current trend appears to have taken a new dimension with respect to the calibre of Nigerians applying on the different Canadian migration schemes. This is guaranteed to heighten brain drain across sectors and professions in the country, Bell Ihua, executive director, African Polling Institute said.
The result showed that the top five motivating “push factors” for Nigerians seeking migration opportunities to Canada are: the search for better career opportunities (75%), heightened insecurity and violence (60%), the desire to provide a better future for their children (55%), for further education (40%), and perceived poor governance in Nigeria (35%).
Across age demography, the search for better career opportunities and educational advancement appeared to be a more important reason for emigrating amongst respondents aged 18-35 years (82% and 45% respectively), than for older folks aged 36-60years (55% and 26%).
“It seems stupid right now to put all one’s eggs in the Nigerian basket. Is the government concerned at all about the mass exodus of Nigerians to Canada?” Jerome Sampson, tweeted using Twitter handle @Gentlejerome
Canada’s postgraduate work permit offers an easy route to the “holy grail of immigration”– permanent residency, and students are taking advantage of the programme by staying back after their studies and going on to pursue permanent residency in Canada.
The survey also found that 81% of actual migrants make financial remittances to Nigeria frequently; and there is a strong connection between remittances and Family Upkeep (85%), Charity (39%), Business Investments (16%) and Building Projects (14%).
In a report last year, BusinessDay had argued that education, jobs and security are three interrelated challenges facing Nigeria. Additionally, a bulging uneducated and unemployed youth population is a dangerous concoction and one of the major reasons for unrest across the country.
In response, bright young middle-class Nigerians in search of better education, jobs, and peace, are voting with their feet because they do not see any immediate nor remote solution to these problems. Call it Brain Drain or Exodus 3.0, the report suggested.