This myriad of challenges is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, Africa has a high level of poverty that it could conveniently export them across the countries of the world.
Ayokunle Oladimeji (not real name), 21, a best-graduating student of the Department of Economics at a popular tertiary institution located in the South-western part of Nigeria walks down the corridor of the Social Science Faculty wearing a long face on a very sunny day. He sweats profusely after sitting for hours in a crowded event hall that experienced embarrassing incidents of power outage. He had bagged several awards after finishing top of his class with a distinction. His grim expression on his day of glory wasn't far from his fear of his future despite his skills-set and excellent academic records.
"This certificate might not get me a good job. I have to relocate to Canada for greener pastures. I don't want to end up as a Yahoo Boy (internet fraudster) like most youths in my neighbourhood" he tells a news reporter during a parley.
It has become a norm for youths to return to the homes of their aged and possibly retired parents to feed on their meagre resources after higher education as a result of scarce economic opportunities in Nigeria.16 Nigerian youths died during stampedes while jostling for jobs in the Nigerian Immigration Service in 2014. The government agency had received 520,000 applications for just 4,556 job vacancies after paying a sum of N1,000 ($3) as application fee. Other agencies have also received similar loads of applications thereby prompting clandestine recruitment processes laced with prebendalism, favouritism and corruption.
Nigeria which is the most populous nation in Africa mirrors the major challenges of the continent. Nigeria produces over 500,000 tertiary institution graduates every year with just a small percent of the large figure securing jobs. 23 million Nigerians are presently unemployed, the GDP growth of the country according to the National Bureau of Statistics recently shrank from 2.4% to 2.01% in Q1, 2019 amid credible fears of a return to economic recession as experienced in 2016. Hundreds of companies are closing down relative to the speed they were established, food production has plummeted due to adverse weather conditions, coupled with insecurity and lack of adequate support from the government for farmers; balance of payment deficit, over-reliance on oil, dwindling currency value and gargantuan corruption at the corridors of power.
This myriad of challenges is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, Africa has a high level of poverty that it could conveniently export them across the countries of the world. According to The Brookings Institution, the average poverty rate for sub-Saharan Africa stands at about 41 percent, and of the world's 28 poorest countries, 27 are in sub-Saharan Africa all with a poverty rate above 30 percent. With the accelerated increase in population across Africa coupled with a high level of poverty, African youths seem to have lost their sense of belonging; there is a need for a new place they could call home.
Lawyer and human rights advocate, Bolanle Folawiyo has always argued on national Television that migration of youths in Africa to the Global North countries will never stop until the local economic hardships are attended to by governments in the continent.
“As a result of climate change, animals migrate from their natural habitats in search of food for survival and this is also applicable to human beings who will not hesitate to leave the immediate environment in search of greener pastures. So, in my own opinion, massive migration in Africa is a failure of successive administrations which have failed to tackle poverty” he emphasized.
According to the IOM and UNHCR estimates, around one million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 until 21, December 2015, three to four times more than in 2014. And 5 years later, the figures are still on the increase.
The latest choice of destination for Nigerian millennials is Canada through the Express Entry program and other streams which actually don't come cheap. The IELTS which is the Achilles heel of most Nigerians keeps gulping the scarce resources of candidates targeting competitive band scores.
The antidote to the 'epidemic' of indiscriminate or legal migration lies in the hands of African leaders who need to invest in human capital development and create opportunities for the growing populations.
Osayimwen Osahon George is a PhD student of the University of Ibadan. He can be reached on [email protected]