Youth Migration: the Nigerian Experience

YOUTH MIGRATION: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE Nigeria, one of the less developed countries of the world and the purported giant of Africa, is no doubt having enormous challenges becoming a developed country. It is faced with the problem of bad roads, which is the major cause of death in the country. It is not going anywhere with the various self-centered policies made by the legislators. Religious and ethnic crises have plagued the country worse than the historic religious times of Egypt.

Our educational system is nothing to write talk about and generally life is quite difficult. This is not to batter my motherland but to tell you the situation of things in this great country, Nigeria. Youths make up more than fifty percent of the population of this country and yet they have, to a large extent, no contribution to the policies and affairs of this nation even of those concerning them as youths. Each year, the universities churn out students who do not have the requisite knowledge needed to occupy vacant positions in the country hence most remain unemployed.

To solve this problem plaguing them as youths, they resort to move across the borders of the country to look for greener pastures hence the problem of youth migration comes in. Youth migration has for decades been an issue to grapple with and has become a rather disturbing issue in present times as it affects all spheres of a nation’s development. Nigeria is not left out of this problem as she has had her fair share of the resultant effects of youths leaving the shores of the country in search of a better life and standard of living.

Before I delve into the challenges and opportunities of youth migration, I would like to mention some of the reasons why people, especially the youths, move or better still migrate to other countries. In looking at the reasons why youths migrate, the following readily suffice: EDUCATION: Education is very important in the life of any individual and especially the youths. In this regard and knowing Nigeria to be a highly certificate dependent country, having the necessary crucial and the more quality your certificate is perceived to have, the more likely you are to get a good job.

Now Nigeria’s educational system is in shambles, you can have an Electrical Engineering graduate that cannot tell the difference between a red and green wire or a graduate of Accounting that does not know what it takes to balance an account, the situation is quite pathetic. In view of this and the need to not just have the certificate but also have the knowledge that goes with it, some Nigerian youths look for admission into foreign universities with the hope of good quality education, which these foreign universities are known to provide. Recently, my younger sister was offered a scholarship by the Rivers State Government to study abroad.

From the number of people that came for the aptitude test, one can see that most Nigerian youths are looking for a way of moving out of the country to better their lives. To achieve their aim, they look for Government grants/scholarships to help them further their studies abroad. The policy makers, rather than ensure that the right infrastructures are put in place for good quality education in the country, loot our money and use it to send their kids to the best private schools abroad rather than improve the standard of education in the country.

BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE: By better quality of life I mean having those things that youths in developed countries have, enjoying the things they enjoy and generally living a full life. It is an open secret that Nigeria is not a technologically developed country and therefore can not provide its teeming population of youths with the requisite cutting-edge technology made available to youths in developed countries. Hence, most youths, especially the financially advantaged ones, take it upon themselves to go to places where these technologies will be made available to them, thereby making their lives easier for.

Using the example of my younger sister, some months ago she told us how they taught her in her school to muse power point to present a paper and how after much practice she was able to have an ‘A’ in that subject. This wouldn’t have been so were she in Nigeria, here everything we do is on pen and paper and you could graduate without knowing what MSWord is. Now all youths want to learn in such a technologically developed atmosphere but not all can afford it therefore those who can afford it migrate to places they can achieve it, usually with the help of their parents and loved ones.

GREEN PASTURE: “THE LORD IS MY SHAPHERD I SHALL NOT WANT, HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES”. This is part of psalm 23 of the Holy Bible. From this portion we can see that green pastures is a situation of sufficiency, satisfaction or whichever word that denotes being okay. It is, and indeed has been, the desire of man to not be in a state of ‘want’, to not suffer hardship and to be able to provide for family. This situation of sufficiency has become somewhat unattainable in the light of the prevailing circumstances, as regards unemployment, in Nigeria.

Many Nigerians still live below the standard of $1 per day and in some parts of the country, like in the North people live in abject poverty. The only option for most youths out of this dilemma is to migrate to places where their skills will be put to use in exchange for money. This has caused many unemployed youths to flee in the face of this looming hardship to foreign countries where they struggle to make ends meet and indeed some succeed in making ends meet. BOREDOM/MONOTONY: Monotony is doing same thing over and over again and this results in boredom.

Youths exude energy and hate to see such energy being wasted. When they find themselves in an environment that they consider boring and nothing seems to be done about it, they move to places that will give them more excitement and peace. This situation usually apply to talented Nigerian youths whose talents are left to rot away due to unfavorable conditions, you find out that most of this youths move out of the country and surprisingly, their talents are discovered in no time in their places of migration.

Little wonders you see a Nigerian youth that was hastily tagged a ‘failure’, coming up to limelight after some months or years of lying low in his/her country of migration. There they meet with people who appreciate and help them harness their talents, which they put to good use, and later become the much-talked about celebrities of our time. SAFETY: In the year 2010 and indeed this year 2011, a lot of things has happened that puts a big question mark on the state of security in Nigeria.

From the Boko Haram terrorist moves in the North the failed attempt of a bomb blast on an airplane by the son (a youth) of a renowned Nigerian. To the militant attacks in the Niger Delta region of the country and the religious and political unrest in Plateau State and Borno State respectively all in Nigeria, the country has been in a state of chaos. This has caused many youths in the country, especially youths from the affected areas to look for a solution to assure their future and that of their families and one of the solutions that readily comes to their mind is migrating to another country.

For example I had a lot of friends in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria but with the incessant religious attacks and the dangers it poses to human life in the region, most of them moved away from the state. Some of them moved to other states while the privileged ones were sent abroad by their parents. Migration to these youths is a way of absconding from the imminent perils in their places of abode and indeed Nigeria and looking for a safe harbor somewhere else. HEALTH: “Health is wealth” so goes the popular saying.

No one wants to fall ill but when one does, it is pertinent to get back as fast as possible to ones feet. Although Nigeria is trying in terms of attending to the medically challenged, it does not have the requisite expertise and technology needed to treat certain cases of ill health. That is why most times people are flown abroad to get good medical attention in their periods illness. Recently in Nigeria, there is the issue of people coming up on air to solicit for financial support to aid them fly abroad for medical attention.

If the Nigerian medical system were well equipped, these people would not have the need to travel abroad for medical attention. This factor could also lead to migration because most times, after treatment those that can afford it do not usually want to come back to the country, they prefer to stay there and recuperate and afterwards forge ahead. The leaders of this country are not left out in this case as you see them flying out of the country with the excuse of medical attention, even when they have just a headache.

They do this either for the fun of it or to run away from the responsibilities of running the Nation. The youths therefore feel the country’s medical facilities can not attend to their medical needs so they look for ways of moving out of the country for better medical care. HIGH COST OF LIVING: The inflation prevailing inflation rate in Nigeria is quite high although it has reduced considerably since 2005. The take home pay of workers is not able to take them home in terms of what it can buy.

Prices of goods and services are on the high side, we are not able to live comfortably because the money we are paid can not buy what we need. You can take ten thousand naira to the market and buy little or nothing with it. Businesses are also folding up due to the cost of running a business in the country that involves burning fuel every hour of every day as long as you are in business. This situation does not encourage small business, as it does not allow them to thrive in the business environment and this also discourages new entrants into the small business world in the country.

In situations like this, the Nigerian youths set to look for countries where the cost of doing business will be reduced and profitability is ensured, when they find such a country they move there, do business there and eventually live there. Hence migration takes place. THE ‘ME TOO’ SYNDROME: In some parts of Nigeria (Edo state) it as status symbol to someone from your family residing abroad. So they take it upon themselves to send their children or loved ones abroad so as to raise the family name and as you know, it is the youths that are affected.

This situation is quite pathetic as most of these youths find themselves in situations of child trafficking where these youths are sold into slavery and prostitution in return for money. PEER PRESSURE: The issue of peer pressure also comes to play here. There are situations where youths migrate because their friends have invited them or want them to come over so as stay in close touch with one another. Now given the above reasons, it is important to ask what are the reasons for a blood bubbling and energetic Nigerian youth to leave his fatherland and sojourn in an unknown or strange land.

Weighing the benefits against the risks of migration can get the answer to this question. OPPORTUNITIES OR BENEFITS OF YOUTH MIGRATION OPPORTUNITIES I would like to look at it from the point of the benefit to the youth and by extension the country (receiving or sending). Employment: This is one of the reasons why Nigerian youths migrate. Youths get employed in certain areas where they would not have had jobs had they remained in Nigeria. This in increases the active labor force of the receiving country and helps the receiving country to increase its output thus boosting its GDP.

This does not affect Nigeria in terms of employment as these youth were jobless while there hence whilst it benefits the youths by giving hem a job, the receiving country benefits in the area of increased GDP. For example, a Nigerian who was unemployed in his home country might go abroad get a good job add to the active labor force of his host country and thereby increase their GDP by services he renders. Fiscal Benefits: The fiscal benefits of migration include the tax revenue generated from these Nigerian youths that have gained employment in the receiving country.

When these youths get a job in their host country, they are taxed and this tax contributes, largely, to the revenue budget of the host country which in turn enables the host country to provide infrastructures which the tax payers including the migrants will benefit from. Here the benefit is like the circular flow of income theory in economics. It flows between the taxpayers (including the migrants) and the government. Taxpayers money are used to provide amenities like public hospitals, good roads, social services and other infrastructures, these things are used by the people and the government also benefit from it.

Brain gain: Brain gain is a situation where there is large-scale immigration of technically qualified persons. It is the entrance into a country of educated or high- skilled people from another country, usually for a better pay and living condition. The youths now employed in their host countries are able to put their knowledge and skills to good use. This creates an atmosphere of personal satisfaction on the part of the youths and increased skilled labor for the host country. For example, a highly skilled surgeon gets tired of the way medical doctors are treated in Nigeria.

He decides to travel out of the country, knowing fully well that his services will be needed anywhere he finds himself, he will have added to the skilled labor force of his host country whilst improving his own living standard. Remittances: These are monies sent by the migrants to their countries of origin. The remittances sent by migrants play a major role in the economy of Nigeria. Although the amounts of remittances received cannot be precisely stated, it is known to have been increasing even in the face of economic downturn in the host countries.

Remittances have a very important effect on the standard of living of families that receive them. It lifts them up from the ugly clutches of poverty to a state of financial prosperity. When a Nigerian goes abroad and after sometime starts making money, he does not forget home as he sends some money down to his people either to help his younger ones or to help his entire family. He becomes the savior of his family, as his family will use the money to start up a small business, build a house or do something that will benefit members of the family.

Transnational benefits: By this I mean the financial flow between the host country and Nigeria. There is the benefit of philanthropic donations from established citizens in a host country to Nigeria. We also have import and export of native foods missed by the Nigerians in foreign countries thereby creating a viable market for the goods and services both for Nigeria and the host country. Foreign direct investment (FDI) also comes to play under this category. FDI’s from Nigerians in has tremendous importance to this country, as it is known to help the development of the country.

Now let us evaluate the risks of migration. CHALLENGES OR RISKS OF YOUTH MIGRATION There are so many risks of youth migration and some of them are explained below. BRAIN DRAIN: This is the movement of trained persons from one to another country for better living standards and job opportunities. The issue of brain drain is very common when discussing the manpower problem facing developing countries. From one part of the world to another, the issue of talented Nigerian youths migrating across National boundaries continues to exist.

There are many Nigerian professionals in developed countries that could play very key roles in the development of Nigeria. Nigerians all over the world are causing positive changes in the economy of most Nation’s without thinking of doing same for their own country. According to the health minister of Abacha’s regime, Dr. Madubuike Ihechukwu, approximately twenty one thousand Nigerian doctors were practicing in the U. S. alone (as at 1995), by the time Nigerian Doctors in other countries are included, they will exceed thirty thousand.

Rather than use their expertise at home, these Nigerians are using their skills to develop other countries. This is quite pathetic, as these professionals are the vital tools needed to transform the economy of this Nation to greater heights. Until we rise up to our responsibilities as a people and stand up for our rights we will continue to be on one spot. INTERNALIZATION OF AWKWARD CULTURES: The world they say is a global village and with this village comes all sorts of characters and cultures. Everyone can access the Internet now and with this access comes the risk of internalizing the wrong habits of youths in other countries.

When these youths come in contact with these odd cultures there is the tendency that they will cultivate whatever habit that comes with it. There are situations where Nigerians come in contact with extremists in their countries of abode. These extremists make them believe in whatever philosophy they stand for and use these Nigerians to perpetrate whatever evil they have in mind. Without any parent to guide these youths or any loved one to run to, the youths have no option than to play along. When they are caught in the process, those that lured them in to the act deny ever having anything to do with them.

In the long run it is these Nigerians suffer different forms of capital punishment and bring a bad name to Nigeria as a country. This would not have happened were they under the tutorage and guidance of their parents and loved ones. ILL- TREATMENT BY HOST COUNTRY: This is a common case especially for Nigerians and indeed Africans in host countries. Nigerians are treated with so much disrespect and contempt that one wonders if they are actually human beings. They are used and dumped like grocery bags. They become exposed to drugs, gang behaviors, and sexual abuse you name them.

They do the worst kind of menial jobs just to make end meet. These host countries should learn to show some love to migrants in their country, as this will go a long way to foster positive relationship among them. LABOR FORCE: There is the looming problems of insufficient labor force in certain areas of Nigeria’s economy such as the agricultural sector. In Nigeria, youths have run away from agriculture and this is posing serious threat to the Nation’s food basket. Nigeria was known for the export of various cash and food crops but today nothing is to write home about the production of these crops.

The whole nation is now dependent on crude oil with no regard for the development of the agricultural sector of the economy. The youths no longer want to soil their hands tilling the soil, they will rather work very hard to be employed into one of the numerous oil producing companies in the countries even the unemployed ones prefers to stay idle than get busy tilling the soil. The agricultural sector, the textile industry etc in the country is in disarray and in dire need of a face-lift. They see these aspects of the Nation’s economy as lacking luster and look for areas where they will make millions over-night.

In view of the benefits and challenges evaluated above, we can see that migration is not an entirely negative phenomenon because depending on the case, it could proffer solutions to the problems in the receiving or sending country in this case Nigeria. WAYS TO AMELIORATE YOUTH MIGRATION My recommendations as to how to curtail youth migration in Nigeria are as follows: ? The Government of Nigeria should provide infrastructures that will help the youths put their knowledge into use here in Nigeria. Let us take computer technology for an example.

Most young Nigerian guys are interested in computer technology and look for ways to get and use the knowledge of computer. The Government of Nigeria should key into this opportunity and create an avenue where these youths will come and learn how to assemble and design electrical and electronic equipment and you will marvel at the level of success that will be achieved. A good example of this is the “computer village” at Ikeja, Lagos here in Nigeria. Here youths learn how to assemble and repair computers and other electronics and after that they sell at a cheaper rate than what you will get in the market.

If you have bought any electronic from them you will know that they are usually very good. ?There should also be an enabling environment to attract youths that are doing well in other countries to come back home. Right we want them back home, but what are they coming back home to. The same infrastructure that was in the country when they left is what they will still get if they come. For them to be able to use their expertise, the environment needs to be right. For example: for a specialist surgeon in another country to come back home, the necessary equipment needs to be available for him to put his expertise to good use.

Same thing applies to Nigerian experts in other regions. ?In the area of employment, the Nigerian Government should revive the dying industries in the country so as to create job opportunities and invariably increasing the national output of goods and services thereby improving the GDP of the Nation. Such industries like the textiles. Agriculture etc needs a major revitalization. If this is done we can become the major exporters of textiles and cash crops as it was before. This will also help to discourage substandard goods from entering the country. Nigeria should also encourage technical skills, not just by supportive policies but in deed. This is because lots of areas in the country require technical skills which most of most universities do not provide. Nigeria should stop relying totally on university certificate and diversify the importance attached to this certificate to other categories of certificate like craftsmanship, welding, polytechnics and monotechnics to mention a few. There should be a place in the economy for those who cannot afford higher education that was the main aim of the 6-3-3-4 system of education.

This should be enforced in all ramifications. ? Nigerian youths and indeed the entire populace should be encouraged to have an attitudinal change concerning things happening in the country. We should stop seeing Government like other people’s business or affairs. The youths should participate actively in the governing process of the country and we will all see that Nigeria will be a better place for all. It is my sincere believe that if all these are considered and implemented this Nation, Nigeria, will be a much better Place.