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Africa’s brain drain

SIR: I recall seeing the 1984 Andrew advert which was played by the late Enebeli Elebuwa. In the advert, the country was pleading with Andrew not to ‘check out’ of the country but stay behind to develop here. In a tinge of coincidence, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was the then Head of State.

Migration is as old as man and he has every right to leave his current country for greener pasture elsewhere.

In the run up to independence, most Africans studied in France, United Kingdom, United States and Canada most especially and immediately rushed home to occupy the vacant positions left behind by the departing colonial masters.

After decades of terrible governance by both military and civilian rulers, the conversation shifted to migrating to the west for economic reasons and to give the family and unborn generations a brighter future.

It wasn’t only the west that was attractive – many Africans ran to Asia and even other parts of Africa most notably South Africa just to have the taste of a better life.

The professionals were the worst hit. Academics, doctors, lawyers, journalists, nurses and other healthcare professionals, accountants, bankers simply packed up their bags and fled the continent to avoid depression.

A recent report released by the Nigerian Medical Association showed that out of 72,000 registered medical doctors licensed to practice in the country; about 35,000 were abroad. A similar release by other professionals like lawyers and accountants showed that the nation which touts itself as the ‘Giant of Africa’ is in real danger. A similar fate also befell other African nations as the conducive environment to thrive back home is simply not there which makes migration an inevitable option.

The damage has been done and there is no need crying over spilt milk. Many African nations are making strident steps to become developed states. A case in that readily comes to mind is Rwanda that is on the path of development barely after 25 years of the brutal Hutu-Tutsi war that claimed millions of lives. They have a full-fledged office for Diaspora affairs and regularly engage with their citizens abroad who are making serious investments back home. Other African nations should emulate them as they are poised to be Africa’s first superpower in the no distant future.

Africa nations should get their act together in churning out progressive policies that would not only get them out of the woods but put them on the path of national development. We should shoulder high above tribalism and ethnic sentiments to building a virile economy for the good of all.

Africa is truly in need of the clones of Nelson Mandela in her bid to develop.


  • Tony Ademiluyi,  Lagos.



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