Aside from the old-Soviet Union, and perhaps, today’s
Every now and then, I come across Nigerians who were men and women of substance and great intellect when
In the years immediately following the cessation of hostility, some of the embers and the energies returned. Nigerian universities and institutions of higher learning were home to some of the continent’s best. And so were the Civil Service and the Judiciary. Rent from oil and other resources made it possible for
However, a series of self-immolating factors, including but not limited to coups, poor leadership, institutional dishonesty, ancient fears and suspicious, along with external interferences, helped bring the country to her knees. The gains of the post-independence and post-civil eras all evaporated. The air was gradually knocked out of the nation’s lungs. And so it was that beginning in the late-1970s, until the present time, the country has been in a doldrums, in a rut: unable to pull itself up from three decades of morbid slumber. In the intervening years, about 1.1 million professionals, along with their kids and spouses, fled the country.
Consequently, the country’s institutions deteriorated; there was and continues to be a breakdown of social structures; mediocrity became the norm; high crimes were legalized; and foolishness and stupidity became fashionable. Not minding the costs and the inconveniences, Nigerians fled to whatever country that will host them. Nigerians fled everywhere, from
Some cannot return home; others will not return. Not now, at least. Too many have nothing to return to, nothing to aspire to. It is hard to quantify the cost of such forced-migration on the people and on the country. How do you quantify the psychological and spiritual loss; how do you quantify the economic, social and political loss to the nation? If the current trend is not inverted, Nigerians may be the first and only people — in the modern era, at least — with a country, but without a homeland.
Immigration is not new. It is to be encouraged. It is necessary. It is part of the human evolution and human experience. There have been great migrations in history. In
The problem with the Nigerian-style immigration is the pattern, the scope and the pull-push factors that gave rise to such movements. If
Why are Nigerians not returning home in their prime and in great numbers? Well, there are five possible explanations for this trend. The first falls under economic and time factor: It is either they are waiting for their kids to grow and enter college/university; or they have mortgages to offset, or have retirement benefits to look forward to. By the time two or three of the aforementioned takes place, they must have begun to gray and in the fourth phase of their life. Secondly, there are concerns over space and acceptability. In order words, the Nigerian economic, political and social space may not be big or expansive enough to accommodate all those who wish to return.
The space is not big enough, and it is not growing at a fast enough space. Adding to this difficulty is the issue of personal security and basic needs: availability and easy access to education and health care, sustaining infrastructures, social services, and a conducive environment for one to grow and prosper. Why forgo the predictability and comfort of the West for the vagaries of an exhausting and predatory
And finally, there are those for whom the
As was alluded to earlier, there have been great migrations in human history. Reverse migrations are not that common. They are rare. Still, there was the movement of South Africans back to their country after the collapse of the Apartheid system; there was the reverse migration to