Why You Should Remain in Nigeria
By: Deji Yesufu
Let me begin this article by accepting the reality that some people are destined to leave Nigeria. The truth is that some professionals will thrive better outside this country and they will add more to society while they are overseas and probably help support the Nigerian economy with whatever monies they send back into the system. This is a fact. In spite of this reality, I am convinced that the majority of those leaving the shores of this country are never meant to go. Such individuals may travel out of the country, make a lot of money and probably reach their zenith in life. But such people will still come to their grave without a sense of having accomplished what they were sent into this world to do. This is simply because they left the nation of their birth and moved away from it.
A lawyer shared a question on social media recently. He asked his readers what they will counsel him to do: many people think that he will thrive better overseas. They feel that he can make better use of his gifts outside Nigeria and that he is likely to earn more from legal practice overseas than in Nigeria. I was very glad to see many people come to that thread and advise him against leaving the country. He later posted that he had decided to stay and slug it out in Lagos.
In a related manner, a medical practitioner was lamenting why none of his students were even considering remaining in Nigeria to work. Every single one of these young doctors have already planned how they will begin studying for foreign exams and the moment they pass; it is bye-bye to Nigeria. The most alarming part was that when he asked a class of prospective young doctors if anyone among them was even considering living and practicing in Nigeria, no one supported the idea. In fact, they regarded it as a taboo or a curse. In this essay I want to enumerate a few reasons why you should remain in Nigeria – work and live here.
Many Nigerians, regardless of religious views, do not have a healthy grasp of their end – I mean the subject of death. In foreign lands, this same place many of young people are fleeing to, people have witnessed generation after generations come and go. There are properly documented accounts of the lives of people’s parents, grandparents and forefathers. In short, white people know that a day will come when all that is going to be told about you is not how much money you possessed; or how many cars you drove; or how many houses you built. They understand something called legacy and the fact that a person’s name can be traced to something virtuous. Because of this, oyinbo people think fundamentally about humanity. They look at leaving their world better than they met it. It is thinking like these that makes a man spend all his life in a laboratory looking for a solution to a certain life problem and having found it, he documents it in a book and pass on his knowledge to his students. White people end their lives with a sense of fulfilment of having added to humanity.
Now, because many of us have grown up either in abject poverty or have lived our lives with poverty either staring at us daily or threatening us, survival is the motivating factor in our worldview. The average Nigerian is hoping to secure food in his home first. After that he hopes to build a house, buy a good car, and maybe get his children through school and make them independent. This survival mentality has made us to see life from a very narrow perspective of self. Many Nigerians do not think of others. Most of all we think about is ourselves, our children and then our wives (in that order). No one is concerned with what happens to our unborn children. The other day I was lamenting the felling of trees in South-west Nigeria. Trees are being used up in our forests for building houses and no one is planting new trees to take the place of the felled ones. We build houses and everyone use up the space in their compounds. There are hardly any grasses planted; the whole place is cemented; and there are no trees around. We uproot the trees to build our houses. Yet we complain about erosion and the adverse effect of the wind when it rains. This survival mentality is what is pushing our young people abroad. If they realize that life is more about giving back and leaving a legacy, perhaps they will stay.
The life of Christian missionaries that helped to bring education to Nigeria is worth studying. Two of them are worth mentioning here. They are Mary Slessor and S. G. Elton. Slessor worked in Nigeria from the late nineteen century until the 1915. Her missions were mostly in the Calabar area of today Cross River State. Sidney Elton worked in South-west Nigeria from 1937 until 1987 when he died. Slessor is known for her social reforms in Calabar, particularly ending the killing of twins. What is little known about her was how she came to the decision of remaining and dying in Nigeria. Like many white missionaries of those days, after serving on the mission field for a while, they return to their country for a holiday. They use the period to catch up on family matters, check up on their health, rest, raise money for missions and return to the mission field after a while. One day, while working in her mission field in Calabar, Slessor received news that her mother and her sister had passed away. She told those who cared to hear that there was nothing to return to the UK for anymore. She continued to work in Nigeria until her health succumbed to the incessant malaria attacks that killed many missionaries of her day.
Elton, on the other hand, had served in Ilesha for quite a while. Besides helping to establish Pentecostal missions around the country, he also helped the fledgling Western government of Awolowo to develop curriculums to train teachers for schools in South-west Nigeria. One day, he got wind of an information: some mischievous element in the Nigerian government had promised to ensure that the next time Elton travelled out of Nigeria to visit home, he would not be allowed entry back into the country. Because of this S. G. Elton put an end to visiting his home country and made Nigeria his home. He never travelled out of Nigeria from the early 1970s until his death in 1987. His daughter is still working at her father’s mission house in Ilesha till this day.
When you look at stories like these, you begin to ask: when white people are making Nigeria their home so that they can help impact humanity, what exactly are Nigerians going outside the country to do? Someone will say they are going to make the almighty dollar. I will ask at what expense? The answer: at the expense of family life. Someone told me that he was convinced that many Nigerian couples will still be together if they had only remained in Nigeria. They travel abroad and little domestic problems that will quite easily be solved in Nigeria, are blown out of proportion by foreign authorities who have no idea what genuine family life is all about. Besides that, how many Nigerian couples are mourning over what has become of their children. They send children abroad to school and the children return home with some education and a lot of godlessness. The other day it was Doyin Okupe’s son that had become gay. The list is endless. If such people had remained in Nigeria, many of the things happening to them will not be happening.
Finally, and I think most importantly, still in keeping with the sense of adding to society and humanity, our young people need to realize that we are the ones that will fix this country and not anyone else. Except we want white people to return to colonize us again, we had better get to work. Some colleagues in my office went to India to train. They said one of the things they noticed about that country was that it was not popular for Indians to leave their country and go to another country to live. They said that many Indians are well trained and many of them have certification in various fields that could help get them mouthwatering jobs abroad, but there is an unspoken sense of nationalism that tells them to remain in their country. They earn a lot less in the process, but help to build their country as a result.
The whole concept of a developing country is not meant to be derogatory. It is simply a verdict on where we are in our national life. “Developing” is a pointer to the fact that something has a lot of room for improvement. In fact, the countries that call themselves developed are the ones that should be most pitied because there is little or nothing to add to them – everything about them is formed. A developing country like Nigeria offers up many opportunities that developed countries do not have. There are a lot of things that can be done in our national space. Perhaps one of the greatest blessings that could come the way of our young graduating people today is that there are simply no white-collar jobs for them. Universities are now being forced to in-cooperate entrepreneurial skills into whatever course of learning our students are embarking on. In the process, our young people are branching out into all kinds of fields and they are excelling in them. This is how this country will be saved: our young people will simply dig into themselves and out of sheer survival bring out workable formulas for national development. And this country will be saved at the end.
Again, not everyone is meant to live within the national space he was born in. A few people will find themselves outside the shores of their motherland and some might even make such places their home. But there is clearly something very wrong with this mass exodus of young people from our country. There is something inherently wrong with every young nurse nursing the ambition of going to the US or UK to work. There is something incongruent with common sense when every young graduating doctor is planning to write PLAB or one of such foreign exams for doctors. It does not matter what they may be earning over there, most of these people are not meant to be outside this country. They may succeed at surviving for now but a day will come when they will realize, as in the words of Jesus Christ, man shall not live by bread alone. Life is a lot more than food and drink.
So, my dear young person, remain in Nigeria.
It’s great having others who believe in Nigeria. Leaving the country won’t solve the problem we are having. We all need to stay and fix Nigeria ??