April 23, 2024

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Our Youths &The Search For Elusive Green Pastures: Anywhere But Nigeria!

Ik Muo

In the good old days, young men went overseas mostly to school and because they could not scale through the Nigerian University merit-based and stringent admission hurdles. There were also those troublesome ones whose parents  sent on ‘exile’ abroad so as to buy some peace. That was a period when people went to private schools  because they could not get admission into Missionary  or Government schools. How things have changed! The issue of people going abroad to ‘hussle’ was unheard of. Suddenly,  following the Structural Adjustment Programme, which sapped our economy, the consequential degradation of our currency and the riotous inflationary trends,

the emergence of extremely avaricious and I-don’t-care-politicians, and the onset of Americamania (inexplicable quest in everything America and foreign) caused by the merciless forces of globalisation, going overseas became a very big deal and to some of our ‘idle youths’, the ONLY option.Sure, some went abroad to study because due to an unfortunate reversal of fortunes, Nigerian certificates now get K-Leg and employers are ready to part with   intimidating sums to hire-foreign trained Nigerians( Idont know whether this applies to those who schooled at Cotounou  some of whom busedtheir way to and from Lagos daily).

However, there is a growing horde of desperados, who believe that  going overseas is the only option. These are the ones who go through the window, by legedezebenze, by camel, by truck or by stowing-away. They believe that the grass is greener on the other side and that the roads of yonder are paved with gold, where one could pick dollars on the street.Where are they going and what are they going to do? They don’t know;  they just want to leave this country. In 2015, when the clue-ful PMB and his gang of desperate and disparate politicians overran Nigeria, somebody argued that   Nigerians did not actually vote in Buhari;that they voted out the CLUEless GEJ. It was everyone but lucky Goodluck. Well, our people say that when a woman marries two husbands, she would be in a position to compare and contrast( this proverb also applies to men). So, for these youths,  the war-cry is anywhere but Nigeria, and they are sadly ready to become desert-rats in the process. Recently, Dangote’s networth rose to N8.4trn.  thereby making him richer than 30 independent African countries .  These are the countries where our youths are Andrewing to!( If you don’t know Andrew, the youngman who desperately wanted to check out of Nigeria, then you are still a tata!).

Unfortunately, it is  not only the idle, skill-less and  and hopeless youths that are involved in this mad-rush out of Nigeria. Even those whom we regard as fortunate enough to have gainful employment( at least, their take-home pay can take them home and they still have some change) and perceived as well-off by local standards, are also rushing into this tunnel  where the only certainty is uncertainty. On 11/12/21, a young man working in one of our highly principled and stable foreign banks  told me that 30 his colleagues  had checked out in the last 12 months.    When I asked why, he gave this saddening analysis; that everybody wants to leave because Nigeria is not working and living here is hard and harh. People are either killed by UGM, uknown soldiers in search of IPOB members, police stray bullets, herdsmen, falling containers. You are also harassed and openly   extorted by  security operatives (some of whom use POS machines or escort you to the ATM points to withdraw cash for them) and that is where it ends because you cannot cannot get justice and nobody cares.  The government has abdicated its responsibilities and  left the people to their fate.You cannot get anything from any government agency unless you know somebody who knows somebody.  You cannot get any job unless you are the child or a close relation of PEPs as the people in government are busy preparing their children to lead our children.  And even when you are doing well, there is uncertainty everywhere because a single,ill-conceived government policy , introduced without notice and without a transition period, will just finish you!

He concluded that The future is bleak. That was when Akeredolu, with impunity appinted his son a DG of  what Jimi Disu called a cash-cown agency in Ondo State Government and had the audacity to defend it! Sad indeed. A young doctor I encountered in November told me that working in Nigeria is like mad and that  he has considered jetting out while a Youth Corpd doctor asked about her plans replied without baiting an aylid: overseas of course.
The most unfortunate aspect of the troblem is that our government does not know the reason for the exodus. And the reason why it does not know the reason is simply Nigerian. According to a story attributed to a master story-teller and an arch-satirist, Kole Omotoso, a decade or two ago, the then Nigerian government set up a committee to probe why Nigerians were leaving Nigeria… they went to London Washinton DC and Chicago. They stopped over briefly at Otawa and Winipeg before jetting over to Paris and Berlin. They sent for extra tickects to get them to( as at that time)  the Soviet Union and China. At each city, at least one member of the cimmittee stopped over to continue the work of the committee there. By the time they got to Beijing, only the chairman of the committee was left. He decided to stay on in China to continue with the work! The government waited and waited. The committee never returned. No report was ever submitted.  (And thus) Up till tomorrow, Nigeria Government does not know why Nigerians leave Nigeria. No be me talk this one!
 So, these  young -and not so young- Nigerians troop overseas, even when they  have something  doing in Nigeria and when they know deep down, that they cannot add any value to their host countries. These countries are inturn, dealing ruthlessly with our people, officially through ‘detect and deport’ policies  and other subhuman treatments. They forget human rights whenever it comes to Nigerians and other black Africans though they are willing to assimilate thousands of people from other distressed countries. (Even those rescued off the coasts of Europe are  accepted and provided for). Not all of them are as kind as Czech Republic, which was willing to pay Nigerians and other less-fancied immigrants( from Afghanistan, Iraq et al) as much as 100000 CKZ( about N2m) so as to go and NEVER return. In places like Ghana and South Africa, the government would look the other way while the locals deal wickedly with our people, murdering, maiming looting and arsoning their properties without consequences!
Indeed, we have become a reproach to our neighbours; a scorn and derision to those around us( Ps 79.4)!
However, despite these uggly experiences, which are widely reported,  including those who are defrauded by their agents, those whose organs are harvested and abandoned to die painfully, those who  are abandoned in the deserts and the increasing anti-Nigerian sentiments across the world, our youths still line all the known and unknown routes in their search for the elussive green pastures overseas. Of course, at times, I do not blame them. In Nigeria, they are killed extrajudicially; they are discriminated against-openly and with impunity-and there is indescribable poverty in the midst of equally indescribable opulence. And most of this opulence is exhbited by people who do not create any econoic value; people who do NOTHING. Of course,  we have failed to give our youths ‘citizenship that they could take to the bank’ as passionately expoused by Prof Dora Akunyili some years ago .Anyway, most of my writings are usually as the spirit directs but this one is fathered by some recent developments.     Recently, I watched a video of young Nigerians who paid some agents to take them to Europe, only to be abandoned in an  isolated  shack in Burkina Faso. Early in October, operatives of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT arrested five stowaways caught onboard MT JANE vessel at the Lagos anchorage.  Between July 2020 and June 2021,,this same NNS Beecroft( why not name it NNS MUO or  better still NNS EndSARS?) had cumulatively arrested 97 stowaways!
As I was writing this (16/7/21), I watched the video of a distraught young man in Turkey weeping and begging for material assistance so as transport himself back to Nigeria. He said that obodo-oyibe adiro easy( It is not easy here) and pleaded with those still in Nigeria to stay put. Before then, one of my brightest MBA students, who is fully employed and  perceived as ‘doing well for himself’ had  told me that he was relocating to the US. I was sad and when I asked him whatsgwan and he told me flatly that ‘I don’t understand Nigeria anymore; I don’t know where we are going’.  But his people are already in the US.
But the straw that broke the camels back was the request for a probono consultancy service by a  HND graduate based in the East, and whose  relative wanted to sponsor  overseas.  He will remain anonymous but I know that he will read this. We had some exchanges and I asked him 10 practical questions, which I want to share, unadulterated, with those who want to be anywhere but Nigeria. Here we go.
 On 9/10/21, he sent me this WhatsApp message: Please Ichie, I need some guidance on a crucial decision I am about to make. I choose to talk to you about it because I see you as a father figure with lots of exposure both socially and intellectually. I am 27 years with my business at…. I won’t say that business is booming but at least, I do take care of my bills. I still need some more capital because my networth is less than N2m. Recently, there is a proposal to travel to the UK or US. I have been thinking about it but I don’t know what life out there looks like. I need some guidance from you because this has really given me a tough time to decide on it.

PROVERBS – Words of Wisdom and Guidance | IK Muo

Available for order  +2348033026625 | Delivery : Worldwide

I replied him instantly with a 10-point barrage of strategic questions( You see, I had to  temporarily replace my red cap  with my consultancy cap) and here is my response package: Before I can advise you meaningfully, I need some clarifications: 1)what type of proposal and from whom?2) How certain are you of the source( proposer)? 3)what is the integrity of the process( legality, safety, comfort)? 4)what is your highest educational qualification? 5)Do you have any practical skills? 6)what will you be doing when you get over there? 7)will it start immediately or will you wait for a while? 8)How much will you earn from no 6 and how certain is this? 9)what is the cost of the proposal and can you afford it? 10)Do you have Option B- this means what you will do if things did not walk out as  expected? Think deeply before you respond but while reflecting on these, remember: the grass is always greener on the other side; the way the bitter-kola sounds while being chewed is not  the way it tastes. Wherever people are, they always crave for where they are not! These are proverbs that are relevant to the issues at stake.

 Well, beyond the fact that the sponsor is a trusted blood-relation, he had no answer to most of the questions and everything else was  what the relation told him: for instance, ‘he said I should further my education and combine it with work’, he was not sure of the cost implications but he believed that his relation would foot the bill. Worst of all, he had no Option B, but he hoped that the relation will sort him out in case of any ‘incasity’. In fact, his concluding comment was: None of these things are in place. So, I also made my concluding remarks.

 Nwannaa, I have advised you through these question. I am against people jumping into overseas without knowing what to do there and without due process. Check the net and see what Nigerians suffer all over the world because they smuggled themselves abroad. My niece travelled to the UK the other day. She got her admission from here, paid 70% of the fees and got her accommodation ready before she left. If you want to travel; a) have your documents, b) be sure of what you are going there to do; c) be adequately prepared and e), enter through the front door (due process). Discuss these things diplomatically with your relation so that it doesn’t appear as if you do not appreciate his support. You said you were good at programme. Update your skills. Check out the Decagon Institute… good luck

I want others like him to learn from this and sincerely address these 10-point questions because as our   people would say, orphans learn from the advice given by the parents of  their friends. Our people also say that a ram that wants to grow horns must ensure that its skull is decked( strong enough) and this means adequate preparation. I have spoken, those who have ears, let them hear!

However, as for these emigrants, I have a prophecy.  I believe that things would change for the better. And here is my prophecy: Arise Oh Nigeria; stand upon the height and see your children gathered from West to the East, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went forth from you on foot… but God will bring them back to you carried in glory as on a royal throne. For God has ordered that every high mountain and hills be made low and valleys filled up to make level ground so that they may walk safely in the glory of God. Baruch,5:5-9. Then, we should be reminiscing

When the lord brought the home exiles of Nigeria, we thought we were dreaming; then our mouth was filled with laughter, on our tongues, songs of joy… those who are sowing in tears will reap with joy. they go out full of tears bearing seeds for sowing, they come back full of songs, bearing their sheaves. (Ps126)

Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026624