WHILE we rejoice at the “good news” of the British Government’s approval of work permits for Nigerian international students who wish to work in Britain after the completion of a UK degree at bachelor’s degree level or above, we must also consider the disadvantage – brain drain.
For 2020 alone, out of 13, 000 young Nigerians educated at home and who travelled to the UK for their university education or PhDs, the UK government offers to “retain the brightest and the best students to continue to contribute to the UK post-study.’’
When we compute the number of students who will benefit from such work permit in 10 years and the number of Nigerians in other countries like the US where bright Nigerians are retained or induced to contribute to the development of the host countries, we will see why our country is failing.
It bears noting that human resource remains the most valued of all the resources and other means of production. Any country that cannot provide a conducive environment at home for its best brains to thrive and contribute to the development of that country is dying.
For Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, the approval of work permit for Nigerian international students may be “a testament to the strengthening of educational relationship between the UK and Nigeria”, but we must not be blind to the corresponding huge loss it is to the development of Nigeria.
As at today, most of Nigeria’s best brains are either in the US, UK or other developed or developing countries, making scientific inventions and other landmark achievements for their host countries. To be able to practise medicine in the US, one has to be amongst the best physicians in the world.
In August 2010, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, revealed that a research found that more than 5,000 Nigerian-trained medical doctors were practising in the US alone. That figure must have increased today. It is estimated that 77 per cent of Black doctors in the US are Nigerians. In December 2017, Vanguard reported that 35, 000 doctors left Nigeria for the UK and the USA!
One of the ways to halt this mass exodus of our best brains to foreign countries is to strive to replicate here at home the conditions that lure them to other countries, especially steady power supply, quality educational and professional training, gainful employment opportunities, conducive working environment and security of lives and property.
Government must also show that it is sincere in its quest for technological breakthrough in the country by investing in research and functional education. Unfortunately, it seems a lost battle as government officials are at the forefront of sending their children and wards to schools abroad with public funds!