An adage says ‘when big challenges are giving hard blows to a person, smaller ones will have a field day’. No matter what this present administration says, there is fire on the mountain. Like joke like play a big conflagration is already consuming our big edifice as we used to make jest. The earlier we agreed on this and map out ways of escape the better for us all.
About or less than four decades ago, Nigeria and Nigerians commanded attention on all the surface of the earth. We were welcomed with open hands. No nations on earth called us bastards or rogues. We were looked at as big nation/boys. Our currency and oil gave us such an image.
Not long, several super powers sent emissaries here and suggested to us our Naira was too powerful and we needed to devalue. We bought and swallowed the poison. I stand to be corrected. Several monetary measures were introduced as a result.
Yes, during the oil boom we became a nation dependent on imports because of the free money flow. Even tooth picks we could no longer produce. Common items like pencils had to be imported to show our new status. The propensity to consume anything imported was widespread.
Not too long after, we all began to feel the sting of the economy. Things were going bad and the urge to ‘check out’ by many ‘andrews’ became common place. But if we ever witnessed the urge to travel abroad in the early 80s and 90s what we faced since the beginning of the millennium was unprecedented.
It all began with ‘never do well’ but today the speed at which middle and educated families move out of this country is alarming. Almost every country which opens its doors is an opportunity for Nigerians. First it was USA’s green lottery, then Britain’s highly skilled immigrant scheme. When these two major doors were shut against Nigerians, now it is Australia, Canada and the likes.
With this movement came assaults and insults on all Nigerians. Whether genuine or illegal. Every nation began to stylishly shut its diplomatic and entry against Nigerians. Britain, USA began the trend. This was followed by Asians in the like of Malaysia, India, Turkey, China etc. India still welcome our health bills though.
In Europe, Italy, Belgium amongst other. After this, within the motherland in Africa, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and now Ghana. Sooner or later Benin, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo amongst others will do same. It is a matter of time. if nothing is done.
Countries which should not have birds as visitors at the door of their Embassies in Nigeria now have hundreds of Nigerians queueing at their doors. If in doubt, just drive round Victoria Island Lagos and to be specific Walter Carrington close as it is called in Lagos or Diplomatic drive in Abuja and you will be sorry for what Nigeria has become.
It is now a common Knowledge when Nigerians in Australia are given their full Australian citizenship passports many call for a party where they burn their green passports. Yet our senior government officials still live in the Stone Age begging foreign countries not to grant either visa or citizenship to Nigerians anymore.
What a self-deceit? Yet it is an open secret many of them also work hard to acquire second passport even if it is one unknown country at the extreme end of the pole.
The amount many Nigerians pay in a month on visa applications will be enough to change a state’s economy. If US and UK Embassies will be honest with us, let them declare this. South Africa visa that used to take two weeks for processing is now taking average of two months. I have heard of five months and above in the recent times.
What about Dubai? Dubai’s visa use to be two for a penny. Today, because of ease of acquisition, average one month Dubai’s visa fee is now One Hundred and fifty Thousand Naira on the average. Three months period of the same is now around three hundred thousand Naira. Yet the rage for getting the visa continue to be on the increase.
Many of our professional colleagues whom we see today we may not see tomorrow. Have you noticed in the twinkle of an eye, you just hear from the grapevine your own friends had relocated? This is becoming common occurrence yet we pretend nothing is happening. Our doctors and other IT professionals, which we need more than ever before, are jetting out in their hundreds almost every day.
Which way Nigeria? What shall we do? It is too late to preach people should not travel or relocate as they desire. But the fact is there must be the hand of the drummer beneath the sea. Until we could hold the drummer’ hands, the dance may not stop.
We must work hard on our economy which is going south everyday. Enough of the blame game. It is time to get our hands dirty ploughing the ground by coming up with short and long term strategies capable of bringing us all out of this mess. The forecast of Nigeria’s population by 2050 is a concern to me if we do not have the requisite capacities occasioned by the movement of our highly qualified professionals.
It is almost a month after his inauguration, the cabinet ministers’ list is not out yet. We can only hope and trust this second term journey will be different from the first ‘go slow movement’.