Brain Drain: Stealing the Great Minds of Africa's Demographic Giant.
July 27, 2013.
In the midst of political instability, economic repression, strife, poverty, and abuse, Nigeria is yet shackled by a civilized form of imperialism, or if you like, Neocolonialism. Adewale Akinuoye Agbaje, Prof. Samuel Adeloju, Dr. Joseph Igietseme, Philip Emeagwali, and millions of other Nigerians are scattered across the globe doing exploits for their host countries. The list is endless and their achievements are even more insurmountable.
Brain Drain has been defined as the large-scale emigration of intellectuals, technical experts, and academia to the west; North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Third world nations, especially in Africa suffer more from this global epidemic that has eaten deep into the socio-economic system of nations. Brain drain may mean different things to different people. To some, it may refer to mental breakdown in an individual, but it should be seen in a larger perspective.
Brain drain is also referred to as "human capital flight." Nigerians with scientific skills and expertise; resourceful and purposeful are shipped out of their shores daily on a quest to develop other lands. Blessed with the best natural and mineral resources you can think of, Nigeria is only a shadow of the collosus it ought to be. How then can we blame these emigrants who seek more conducive political atmosphere, a progressive economy, and better opportunities?
According to Adefusika (2010), there are about 21,000 Nigerian Medical Doctors in the united states alone in the 21st century. Yet, Nigeria fails to meet the minimum World Health Organisation (WHO) standard of 20 Physicians per 100,000 people. This shows how threatening brain drain can be to the very existence of a nation. These professionals are lured by western nations who can provide better opportunities and attractive working conditions.
The causes of brain drain vary from political instability, economic repression, social disorder, insecurity, and personal gratification, to educational tours and career pursuit. The consequences are even more numerous, the worst of which are impoverishment and underdevelopment. Thabo Mbeki, former South African President in his Renaissance speech of 1998 was forced to ask;
"In our world in which the generation of new technology and its application to change the human condition is the engine which moves human society further away from barbarism, do we not have need to recall Africa's hundreds of thousands of intellectuals back from their places of emigration in Western Europe and North America to rejoin those who remain still within our shores?"
This question almost entirely answers the question about the need to bring back our great minds that can propel our developmental engine. Like him, I dream of the day when our Mathematicians and Scientists in the US and Western Europe, our Engineers, Physicists, and Economists in the UK and Australia, and our industialists in Dubai and Malasia can come back home and join forces with fellow compatriots. Perhaps, together we can move this nation forward.
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