by Chika Uwazie
In all cases, the term Diaspora carries a sense of displacement; that is, the population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated from its national territory, and usually its people have a hope, or at least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the “homeland” still exists in any meaningful sense.
In the previous generation after the civil war and deteriorating state of government, a mass migration took place in order to seek better opportunities abroad. It was done not only to seek better opportunities, but it was a survival technique in a sense, hoping to bring back a better life for their families Through the decades, more and more Nigerians left to go abroad and became contempt with an improved lifestyle. They witnessed things such as clean streets, constant electricity, and a government that actually works for the people.
Slowly the mindset started to shift from the paradigm of America as being a place of temporary status to a permanent home for Nigerian families. The thought of going back to Nigeria began to seem unimaginable with the constant reminder of a corrupt government, waning education, and lack of infrastructure. But there comes a time in our lives when certain nostalgia sets in and you want to go home.
Taking a look at this current generation, it is clear that the youth possess the ability to migrate back to Nigeria and to restore it to the days of pre-independence. This was the time period in which agricultural was a thriving sector. It was a time where many people benefited from a free and solid education. It was even a time that our government was able to function in a harmonious compromise despite our ethnicities. I started off by stating that the Diaspora has the hope and desire to our homeland. Despite all of these opportunities, can we truthfully say that today’s generation of young Nigerians in the Diaspora want to make the effort to relocate back to Nigeria?
Whether we want to believe it or not Nigeria has encountered a brain drain, which has transcended into an uncontrollable trend of migration out of the country. It makes no sense that in America, Nigerians has been deemed as the most educated group, and yet who’s economy is benefitting? In order for Nigeria’s economy to suffice for the lack of highly skilled professionals, the government spends over 4 billion dollars annual to hire expatriates to fill in for these gaps. The International Organization For Migration (IOM) estimates that ‘”It would have cost the developed nations about $184,000 to train each of the estimated 3 million professionals educated in developing countries now working in the developed world, resulting in a savings of $552 billion dollars for the developed nations.” In essence, developing nations like Nigeria is giving developmental assistance to the developed nations, making the rich nations richer and the poor nations poorer, an analogy of pouring water from a drum into the river, springs to mind.
With acquiring all of these countless degrees, we are one of the greatest sources that Nigeria has. It is even now needed more then ever because Nigeria has hit a turning point in history. More than 50% of our population is under the age of 35, and the youths are making a stance in several issues concerning governance, health, infrastructure, and power. Too many Nigerians abroad have lost hope and I for one can no longer allowed pessimistic ideology to continue to clout my judgment of Nigeria’s future.
If we continue to stay in America for what is perceived as better opportunities how can we ever change the same Nigeria that we continue to complain about. Doesn’t anyone get sick from watching constant negative press about how once again someone got kidnapped; people die from bomb attacks, or money being squandered among the elite? How can we change Nigeria effectively abroad when we can not even name one successful Diaspora youth group that has put efforts towards Nigeria’s development? How are we impacting Nigeria by having town meetings among the Diaspora that never evolve to sustainable change?
As Leo Buscaglia says, “the person, who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow, and love and live.” Yes, there may be lack of security, power, and governance but yet there are people living in Nigeria more resilient than ever. It is time that we rise above sending money back home and join the youth revolution in Nigeria that has started with campaigns such as Light up Nigeria and Enough is Enough. Let us leave behind the days where we hide behind our blogs, facebooks, and websites criticizing Nigeria. No matter how much we may try to assimilate to western nation’s cultures we will and always will be Nigerians first. I didn’t say this task will be easy, because it may be the most difficult task you have ever encountered. I am willing to take the risk to make an impact on this country, the question you must start asking yourself will you?