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Tackling rising skilled labour migration 

By Gloria Nwafor
13 September 2022   |   4:24 am
Although labour migration is a global phenomenon with professionals seeking greener pastures that also boost foreign remittances, the rate at which young Nigerians explore ways to get out of the country...

Director-General of NECA, Wale Oyerinde

Although labour migration is a global phenomenon with professionals seeking greener pastures that also boost foreign remittances, the rate at which young Nigerians explore ways to get out of the country at the slightest chance is becoming worrisome. 

   
Checks by The Guardian revealed that young talents, who are mostly Information Technology (IT) professionals, doctors, nurses, engineers, auditors and accountants, among others are leaving the country due to the current harsh economic realities, insecurity and poor governance system. 
   
In fact, with the current ‘Japa syndrome’, The Guardian gathered that the labour market is no more that of the employers to a large extent, but the employees.
   
This is because most employers and organisations are finding it difficult to keep them once they have made up their minds to leave, despite negotiations for a pay rise, among other juicy incentives.
   
On the loss of talents and professionals, the liberal immigration policy being implemented in some developed countries is a strong pull for Nigeria’s top talents that face rising living costs and stagnant wages.
   
Looking at the impact on the economy vis-a-vis productivity and underemployment, experts are of the view that there is no gainsaying the fact that professional firms and major corporations have been affected by the brain drain, occasioned by the exodus of skilled workers. 
   
They believed that the Federal Government should stem the tide of skilled labour migrating to other advanced economies. 
   
Some employers acknowledged that the talents and employees leaving posed a serious challenge and concern to them as they needed to meet, especially with organised labour, to find a way out.
 
According to them, there is a dire need for the creation of an economic and social environment that is sufficiently attractive to retain them and stimulate productivity.
   
The Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, said it was worrisome that many of Nigeria’s talents moving out in droves were doing exploits overseas, while the system here is deteriorating and challenging persistently.
   
He called on the government to urgently fix the system and not fold its hands because these are happening within the context of skills and youth migration due to a bad economic system.
 
Noting that labour migration as a global phenomenon, he said is induced by certain factors, which ordinarily should not, there should be some concern.
 
According to him, Nigeria has a large, industrious and energetic youthful population and the worry is when many of them are leaving in droves, contributing to the economy of the host country, therefore raising concerns for all.
 
“The mass migration is everywhere. Someone said if you know anyone good in IT, just go to the bank, you can even start that day. Most of the IT personnel either have started their app businesses or Europe and America have taken them. The challenge in the context of leaving is now stronger. The problem is if most of the employees are leaving, it raises concern for us the employers. NECA and the organised labour will have to meet to find a way out.
   
“People immigrating is not problematic if they are coming back to develop the economy, but when they leave and they leave disgruntled, it creates a problem.
 
“While some might say it is good that they go out in terms of the remittances that we get, fundamentally, we realise that even the remittances that we get are the ones that are coming in for consumption purposes. 
 
“For instance, if a brother in the US sends $1,000 to the family and they use it to meet basic needs, then it creates a fundamental problem for all of us. But if the remittances are tailored to investment, it would have been a different thing, because as they invest, they create jobs and expand opportunities,” he said.
 
He disclosed that most countries in Europe and Canada are leveraging Nigeria’s youth population to develop their economies as most of them are having an ageing population. He revealed that in a few years, the elderly persons, rather than them paying taxes, would be getting benefits.
 
“They need people to come and work to grow their economy, because Canada is opening its economy for immigrants to attract those strong and productive groups of Africans so they can help them develop their economy,” he said.
 
A Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, on talents leaving, urged that the government to take a look at the issue using a holistic approach. He said if the issue of governance is fixed, a lot of things will happen. 
 
According to him, governance should be able to take some sound economic positions that will enable the country to come back to stability, stressing that as of now there is a problem.
 
“With the debt servicing overriding revenue servicing, you will know there is the urgent need to leave. The exit of the best brains and youths to another clime is an indication of the state of affairs of the country. Indication in the sense that apart from the economy that is not doing well, it appears the house is collapsing for fear of uncertainty,” he said.
 
Ahead of next year’s election, he said Nigerians should vote for quality leadership with the hope that things would move for the country to lay the foundation for economic growth and prosperity. 
 
“We have everything here. But if we fail, we have more than 80 per cent of Nigerians that will leave this country, even if it is to sweep the street abroad,” Ajaero said.
 
Similarly, a Public Affairs Analyst, Jide Ojo, disputed the Ministry of Labour and Employment when Saudi Arabia and the UK came to Nigeria to recruit doctors.
 
According to him, the ministry doesn’t seem to mind, as it was natural for doctors to look for a better working environment, stating that Nigeria was not affected by the brain drain because the country had more than enough.
 
“My argument is we cannot say we have more than enough because in any case there is an embargo on employment of any kind. Since the government is not recruiting, the youths have to look for alternative means of survival,” he said. He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed to educate Nigerians trying to migrate abroad. 
 
According to him, they should upscale their enlightenment of Nigerians for purposes of becoming regular migrants.