Dr Igwe Oscar Obasi

By Dr. Igwe Oscar Obasi

Nigeria is currently passing through a very critical phase in its history that calls for very serious attention of all stakeholders in the country and beyond.

The wave of exodus not of just any Nigerian but from the pool of its finest brain is more than a chronic “cancer” for the health and future of the country. What is going on in the health and academic sectors of the Nigerian economy is nerve-breaking, confounding and most depressing to say the very least. It is actually a “nightmare” of a country.

Nurses are leaving in droves, doctors are leaving in droves, and lecturers are leaving in droves. These are amongst the best brains in the system. What a country, we have in our hands today?

These are individuals who have spent so many years in training, garnered all forms of experiences working in their professions and now being poached by other economies, so effortlessly, so cheaply.

A cursory look at the various Departments and Units in the Universities reveals the dicey situations of deficiency occasioned primarily by Japa, the now christened word for leaving the country for better fortunes abroad.

This alone should make a country ashamed. The country is not at war but its citizens are running away from it like “veiled refugees” to other countries.

This country appears to be good basically to those who are in power and their cronies milking the system dry. If the borders of Nigeria were to be opened for all, almost the entire population will run away from this geographical expression called Nigeria. Sordidly, this is another lamentation from the very high mountains.

I was privileged to recently be in a panel for a young lecturer who absconded to overseas after his Ph.D in United Kingdom. The young man at some point in our interaction with him broke down in tears. We were shocked and asked him the reason for this level of emotion and he responded in clear terms, saying he got everything in his life in the University in Nigeria but with the situation of things, he was leaving Nigeria never to come back to at least pay back in helping the academic system, from where he initially benefitted from.

He went through memory lane on how in his second year in the University, he got a scholarship, graduated with 1st class and employed in the University. He was also on scholarship for his M.Sc and Ph.D but now he was going to be more useful to another country-the United Kingdom, not-Nigeria that labored to train him with all manner of support.

He stated it clearly that he could not stay in the Nigeria University basically because of the poor pay and the “unfriendly working environment”.

This is the calamity of a Nigeria. He was crying but he was leaving. This is the same solemn story of so many Nigerians now running away but in their hearts they still worry about the destiny of their fatherland.

The motivation for leaving is roundly and squarely for better pay. If those intellectuals were well paid, they will never leave the country only to be returned after the “useful life” to be buried in Nigeria.

This is a straight arrow to the heart of the Government and people of Nigeria at all levels. No country grows by allowing its best brains to leave and running the country with mediocre, such a country will never grow no matter the economic policies employed.

The solution is simple but challenging. Pay your best brains and other workers well. Sacrifice to keep your best brain for the good of the country or you will eventually have a country populated and managed by mediocre and average minds if not below par individuals.
Wake up Nigeria for your house is already on fire.

Dr. Igwe Oscar Obasi
Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Deputy Director, Centre of Excellence on Root Crop Research and Development, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

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