Sometime in late 2013, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the present governor of Bauchi state, Bala Mohammed, raised the alarm of influx of people from all parts of the country to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in search of greener pasture, which, according to him, had over-populated the capital city that was meant to house four million people.
He claimed the FCT had been congested and called on the Goodluck Jonathan administration to take necessary measure by increasing food supply to avoid food scarcity. Later that year the Babatunde Fashola-led Lagos state government administration relocated dozens of people, mostly Igbo to Anambra state. In defence, the government alleged that those people were idle and had no family members in Lagos, and resorted to begging on the street as a means of survival. This poised security threat to Lagosians and led to the decision made by the government to send them back to their families, instead of begging on the street for food and exposing themselves to danger.
The government further alleged that every year, secondary school graduates relocated to Lagos in search of jobs. Citizens are forced to fight for survival which causes rural settlers to migrate to urban areas in search of better lives. Consequently, we have seen urban dwellers relocating to their hometowns due to cost of living in the cities. It also became a great concern when the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs [UNDESA] released its findings that over 1.3 million Nigerians left the country in 2017. Although the UNDESA did not make the figure of the returnees known to us, I believe some of them have not returned at all. Apart from losing skilled and home-trained citizens who could have contributed massively to the development of Nigeria, many of them are fast becoming citizens of their host countries. Nigerian citizens have sojourned for long in foreign land waiting for Nigeria’s glory to shine before they return; meanwhile they are supposed to be part of the developmental process.
For Nigeria to fast-track her developmental process we cannot afford to lose such a large number of resourceful citizens to other countries; who are supposed to contribute to the economic, political and social wellbeing of the country. We must begin to adopt strategies and entreat modalities of retaining our human resources by deregulating the market system, diversifying the economy and creating more jobs for the unemployed. Such as N-Power programme that has lifted and helped several youth.
If Nigerian workers clamor for more pay as regards minimum wage due to the poor economy, then we have to consider the unemployed who have no source of income by paying them a paltry sum of N5, 000 which I believe is not too much for the government in power.
In this era of technology, government must provide and obtain an electronic data of all Nigerians and make it accessible so that we can have the accurate number of working class citizens, and to be able to purge out ghost workers, thereby reducing double payment to same individuals. Students should be provided with loans that can cater for their tuition in higher institutions. Then after graduation jobs should be provided too. With such we will reduce the rate of young people leaving the shores of our country and curb the unrest that bedevils us as a country to the barest minimum.
Edward David is of the National Open University (NOUN)