If Nigeria must curb the huge talent deficit that has accompanied the migration of its skilled professionals to advanced economies, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to treat economic growth and investment in human capital as priority, Adeoye Abodunrin, executive director, Xpos Technologies, says.
He said it was also imperative for the government to embark on massive implementation of strategic policies to stimulate economic growth as talents only have natural tendency to move from a region of lower appreciation to that of higher appreciation.
The search for greener pastures among Nigeria’s talents, according to Abodunrin, has impacted adversely on both the private and public sectors and may persist if the country fails to provide conducive environment with broad opportunities to nurture the talents.
“Primarily, the economy has to be manned well. I’m worried about how we have two ministers in charge of every sector and nothing is working. Let the best brains come together to build a meritocratic culture that is all-inclusive. We need to create human capital structure that includes revival of our vital sectors,” Abodunrin explained while speaking at his induction as a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consulting in Lagos.
Nigeria’s real GDP grew at an annual growth rate of 1.93 percent in 2018, compared with 0.82 percent recorded in 2017, but the impact might be undermined by a population growth rate the World Bank report has averaged 2.6 percent since 2015. The implication, therefore, is that while the economy seems to be improving, the resources available to the average Nigerian has been steadily on the decline.
Also for the third quarter of 2018, labour statistics report by the National Bureau of Statistics pegged headline unemployment figure at 23.1 percent, an18.8 percent increase from the first quarter. Of the 9.7 million people that did absolutely nothing, 8.77 million or 90.1 percent were first time job seekers.
Going forward, Ayo Ebo, chairman, Afrinvest, said the country cannot continue at a slow pace of growth rate lagging behind population growth rate and expect improvement in the standard of living or infrastructure, as available resources will give in to pressure.
The motivation behind migration, Ebo explained, does not end in improving personal economic condition, but also tied to the failings in the education and health system, which many do not want their children to experience.
“Beyond personal gains, there is a focus on giving children a better future and not make them go through a lot of the issues in Nigeria,” he said.
“Government needs to work on creating a conducive environment for living in terms of improved infrastructure, security and availability of power. If we don’t have policies that will create opportunities in terms of jobs, then most people will continue to move.”
Qualification-strapped Nigerians in recent times have been shifting economic migration base to Canada from the usual US and UK options.
They have been leveraging on Canada’s labour force boosting schemes like Express Entry programme for skilled workers, which shows the rate of Nigerian’s admission has been increasing immensely.
While 98 Nigerians – preponderantly medical and information technology (IT) inclined – were admitted in 2015, according to the Government of Canada, 1036 were absorbed in 2016.
In the wake of the postponement of the just concluded presidential election, Canada topped the trending topic on twitter as many Nigerian youths took to twitter, expressing angst over the national polity and their determination to seek better life in Canada.
Express Entry, a programme opened year round without restriction on the number of applicants, was targeted at 75,000 skilled migrants in 2018 and targeted at 85,000 by 2020.
Besides Canada, about 6,244 Nigerian medical doctors will write UK Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) 1 exam this March 14, as an initial footing on their emigration. Already, Nigeria has about 5,000 medical doctors working in the UK and more than 5,000 in South Africa.
Olanrewaju Ogunlana, senior lecturer of economics, Lagos State University (LASU), said economic migrations were a function of a pull and push factor. The pull signifies motivation that attracts skilled personnel to leave their country of origin to other areas with facilities that make them more effective, while the push depicts the repellent factors arising from political jittery, non-provision of amenities and infrastructure. Of all, he admits income remains chief among all factors.
“In the medical line, the deficiency in facilities in carrying out activities and the fact that salaries are not regularly paid are contributing factors. Government needs to engage in distributing the income equitably. There is need for government to make available infrastructural support that the economy needs,” he averred.
On his path, Abodunrin believes Nigerians will continue to lose these gifted hands except a culture and system that protects human capital injection into the economy is aggressively encouraged.
“As an economy, we don’t have enough of human capital. Our educational system is in comatose; in offices, the handing over of skills set is poor. People are more concerned about survival. People are leaving the country because talents will always move towards higher appreciation,” he said.