The Dilemma That Young Nigerians Schooling Abroad Face

By Kenenna Udochukwu

As of late, there seems to be a clearly defined path for the upper-class Nigerian youths. The children of “big” men and women follow pretty much the same academic trajectory. As soon as they turn 5, rich Nigerian kids go to a fancy private primary school. Soon after, they go to an even more pretentious secondary school. British International School (BIS) and Loyola Jesuit College come to mind. After graduating from secondary school, their parents send their children abroad to England, America, or Canada. This is in the hope that their children receive the best higher education in the world.

I am one of those children. I attended Lagos Prep School in my elementary years. I attended Greensprings School, Anthony, Lagos for a year before attending Day Waterman College (DWC). However, I did not take the regular route. I schooled in DWC for just 2 years and left for a private boarding school in Virginia, U.S.A. I’m currently in the summer of my senior year.

Even before I left Nigeria for “abroad”, the planned trajectory my parents had for me was as clear as day. The idea was to work hard in the U.S so that I could attend a prestigious American university. I would work for maybe five years in the U.S before returning home.

Throughout my Nigerian education, I had been told that my generation was “the hope for Nigeria.” We were supposed to pursue an excellent education and then return and use what we learned abroad to improve Nigeria.

It was a noble dream.

However, as I spent more time in America, America became the dream. Things actually worked in America. There was 24/7 electricity, the water was cleaner, the roads were better, traffic lights worked, there were fewer crazy drivers, there was an abundance of quality fast-food restaurants. I could keep going. If given the chance to stay in such a developed country, who in their right mind would say no?

But the reality is more complicated than that. Indeed, Nigeria is a country filled with corruption, insecurity, and poverty. However, it is still our home. It is our mess and we are obligated to clean it up. America is already a great country- perhaps even the greatest. What more help does it need? The U.S would continue improving while our country continues to deteriorate. We cannot allow that to happen. Nigeria needs its well-educated younger generation more than ever, and it would be amiss for us to abandon our own country.

According to the World Bank Report, 4 out of 10 Nigerians live below the poverty line.

That means nearly half of our country languishes in poverty. Perhaps we, the younger generation with the best education, could help lift Nigerians out of poverty and peril. Perhaps we could root out corruption in our governments. Perhaps we could use the knowledge gained in foreign, developed countries to resuscitate our economy.

The dream is that we could save our country. Without a doubt, saving Nigeria would be more satisfying than living a lavish life overseas.

Notice how I’ve referred to Nigeria as “our country” and “our home?” This is because no matter how much young Nigerians clutch their British or American passports, they will always feel a sense of not belonging while staying in those overseas countries. Nigerians in foreign countries are bound to experience racism and xenophobia. They are malignant adversities that Nigerians wouldn’t have to endure if they lived at home. Plus, living in Nigeria means living closer to family.

But once again, I must reiterate that this is a much more intricate issue than it seems. Staying in Nigeria is a very noble idea but how practical is it? Here in Lagos, there have been numerous reports of kidnappings and killings. It is no secret that insecurity is a major problem in Nigeria. Plus, the anti-SARS era revealed how dangerous the police can be.

How could one bear to live in a country fearing for their lives knowing that they could migrate to a more secure country?

Also, Nigeria’s economy has only worsened year after year. It is no secret that Nigerian businesses are plunging due to the scarcity of dollars. Would it not be counterintuitive to languish in Nigeria when you could earn good money in dollars? Working in the U.S could bring life-changing sums of money to youths and their families. That money could secure a comfortable, wealthy life as well as provide for retired parents.

Nigerian youths must make the tough decision: try to be the generation that restores hope in Nigeria or jump ship with the promise of a more comfortable and secure life.

But whatever the decision is for Nigerian youths, we must be proactive and try to improve the country in the present. Let us all do our own bit and be the change that we want to see in our country.

May God help us.

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