It is a common knowledge that Nigerians are moving out of the country in large numbers. Some leave because they have something good they want to obtain out there while others leave because they are running away from something. News continues to filter in about many who were caught trying to enter another country illegally. We have also seen video clips of some who died in the desert and in the ocean just because they wanted to leave their country. And then there are those that ended up as slaves and involuntary organ donors. There are so many horrible things some people pass through as they struggle to make it out of Nigeria, but it didn’t deter others from desiring to embark on that same journey.
The question a lot of people ask is ‘Why do Nigerians want to leave their country?’
Attempting to answer this question could prove to be an uphill task. Truth is that all these people leaving, attempting to leave, or even desiring to leave the country have their own personal reasons for that. Some people want to leave as a result of their personal experiences, while others do because of the experience of others. Those that leave as a result of the experiences of others (which they heard from media houses, literature or face to face conversations) easily fall prey to human trafficking.
Anyway, to try to find out the major causes of human emigration from Nigeria, we may have to employ the Push-Pull theory. This theory opines that there are certain factors that exist in a migrant’s original home that is pushing him out of it. These factors could be bad weather, unemployment, diseases, wars, natural disasters, political instability and so many others. The pull factors, on the other hand, are those factors that attract him to his desired host community. These could be greater job opportunities, good weather, good infrastructure, good medical facilities, religious freedom and so many others. This is to say that negative experiences push people out while positive ones attract them.
Applying this Push-Pull theory to the Nigerian situation, we can find out that all the push factors are man-made negative experiences that wouldn’t have been there if the systems are working properly. Ok, let me list the push and pull factors to buttress my points.
A. The Push Factors
- Poverty: Most of the victims of human trafficking are from impoverished homes. These people were promised better lives in foreign lands and their ‘hunger-stricken’ relatives readily agreed to let them go.
- Poor Education System: Most Nigerians do not consider leaving the country for further studies until they become frustrated with the incessant strikes and unnecessary delays in the Nigerian higher institutions. Any Nigerian that spends extra two or three years on master’s degree will want to go for his PhD outside the country.
- Unemployment: Of course, when somebody that has no source of income hears that there are so many job opportunities out there, and that they are well-paid jobs, he will start looking for a way out of the country.
- Attitude: Truth is, Nigerians have this mindset that anybody that is able to cross the shores of this country is either rich or will be rich (by fire by force). We grew up with this positive attitude towards travelling and living outside the country. As we grow up, this attitude becomes fed and nurtured by the other pushing factors.
- Corruption: What I want to say here isn’t what you have in mind. I’m not trying to say that people leave because they are tired of corruption in the country. What I want to state here is that people leave the country because they are corrupt and wouldn’t want to be caught and probed (or witness the anger and harassment of their people). This is one of the reasons our political office holders send their children away immediately they assume offices.
- Intimidation/Victimisation: Only a few Nigerians leave because of this. But I have known some people that left because they were being victimised in their places of work. So what these people did was look for better opportunities out there and relocate immediately they get a promising one.
- Exclusion: As some of us know, Nigerians are being excluded from so many international benefits and opportunities. One man narrated at a conference I attended about how he wasn’t allowed to spend a night in a hotel in Addis Ababa when their flight made a stopover because he was carrying the Green Passport. Nationals from other countries were allowed out of the airport but he had to spend the night there. We also have some international organisations and companies that exclude Nigeria from partaking in their activities while allowing some other African countries to do so. Situations like this make some Nigerians look for ways to leave the country to make better livings for themselves and their families.
Beside the international organisations, Nigerians have been complaining about tribalism and favouritism that takes place within the country. The ‘Who-You-Know’ syndrome seems to be causing more problems for us. When you know that you can never make it to the top, or even make it into the organisation, because you do not belong to a particular tribe, you will seek for other alternatives. If that alternative means leaving the country, you will take it.
The good thing about Nigeria is that we don’t have natural push factors like bad climate, earthquake, cyclone and other natural disasters (except flood, which is also caused by man). You can notice that all our push factors were caused by Nigerians, directly or indirectly. Until these push factors, and some others unmentioned, are curtailed, Nigerians will continue to look for means out of the country.
Ok, now over to the other side.
B. The Pull Factors
- Good Infrastructure: The first thing any Nigerian that goes to the Global North notices is that ‘NEPA doesn’t take light’ (lol). This is so true. A lot of people move because they want to enjoy basic infrastructures that are available over there. Anyway, these people are among those that can afford to move.
- Education: As mentioned earlier, the education system in this country is sending away a lot of our young and invigorating minds. Apart from having the basic facilities needed for teaching and learning, the schools in developed countries ensure that academic programmes run in due course. Let’s look at this, you started your PhD here in Nigeria and you have been on it for seven years. Meanwhile someone that travelled out of the country to do his M.Sc. at the same time you started your PhD has obtained both M.Sc. and PhD certificates and has come back to take up a higher position in your office (and you are yet to finish with your PhD o). How will you feel if it were you?
- Job Opportunities: I can’t really say much about this because I noticed that unemployment is a global problem. The only thing I know here is that people’s talent are well harnessed in developed countries. But I will like Nigerians to be sure of this job opportunity of a thing before making a decision to move, unless they are moving to Canada that seems to be looking for skilled workers.
- Strength of the Currency: This is one mega attraction I know. I always find it funny anytime I see small boys in my village calculating what they will do with money when they land a job in US that pays them $100 a day. They don’t mind the kind of job they will do there so long as there is ‘hard currency’ to come with it. This dream can do a lot of wonders to the souls of those desiring to move. If Naira is strong enough (I don’t want to dream about it being stronger than dollars), most people wouldn’t want to leave, trust me.
There are so many other reasons people move out of Nigeria. But these listed ones are the major ones, which needs to be fixed.
Nobody wakes up and decides to leave his home unless there is something pursuing him or something he is pursuing. People can leave to take up job positions, people can leave to carry out business transactions, and people can leave to unite with their families. But when people start leaving because their homes are not good, then there is a problem.
Nigerians need to heal Nigeria. Nobody else can do it for us. If we don’t act fast, we will wake up one day and realise that everybody has run away.