In this Boxing Day 2019 reflections, J. DUKE ANAGO predicts that Igboland will become desolate in 30 years if the rush by our youths to abandon Nigeria to live and work abroad is not managed properly – and tells us how.

By J. Duke Anago

An Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba parents sent their sons abroad for study. The Hausa son returns immediately upon graduation and takes up a job in the public service. No matter how low the pay is, they stay and grow gradually. The Yoruba looks for an opportunity abroad, works for some time (5 years on average) and returns to Nigeria to work for an expatriate company or in a private sector company. The Igbo son, just like his Yoruba counterpart, looks for an opportunity abroad, secures a well-paying job, settles down and vows never to return to Nigeria again. In 10 years, he is married and has kids who are not taught to speak Igbo. His next project is to bring family members abroad who, in turn, follow the footpath of their brother by refusing to return to Nigeria. Most of the family settle abroad with only his parents living in Nigeria.

In 15 years, the Igbo son is now an influential Software Engineer in one company in Canada. The Hausa man is the Commissioner of Police in the Igbo man’s home state. The Yoruba son is currently the senior Network Engineer of the mobile line the Igbo man’s father uses in his state.

Igbo man sends money home to build a mansion in his village.

That’s as far as he goes to develop his community No development! In contrast, the Hausa son recruits 50 of his people into the force, thereby creating employment. The Yoruba man writes to his state government of his company’s intention to sponsor 20 Nigerians abroad for study, and he can facilitate 15 to come from his state, ensuring transfer of skill.

Igbos always brag of being in control of trade and commerce. Well, the bad news is that in the next 10 years, the buying lifestyle or behaviour of an average buyer would change. They won’t be visiting lock-up stalls. They would most likely buy online or visit malls. What are we doing to upgrade the trading skills of our Igbo brothers to meet up with the advancement of technology and innovation?

J. Duke Anago

Today, as the Yorubas and Hausas are picking up available private and public sector jobs in Nigeria, Igbo sons are deserting their country, only to litter their states with mansions that do not add value to community development. Ask the Igbo son to invest in his region and he will narrate countless reasons why it is not a good idea. But, upon his death, his remains would be rushed home to be buried.

I have made this point before and it is worth repeating: there should be a premium burial levy on top and wealthy Igbo enterpreneurs and professionals who die without establishing value-adding businesses in Igboland.

Aku luo Uno is not when I build mansion in my village or nearby city. We must change this narrative for good. Aku luo Uno must now mean creating jobs for the Igbos in Igboland. Aku luo Uno must include building institutions for those striving to survive in Igboland and not hotels.

Igbos always brag of being in control of trade and commerce. Well, the bad news is that in the next 10 years, the buying lifestyle or behaviour of an average buyer would change. They won’t be visiting lock-up stalls. They would most likely buy online or visit malls. What are we doing to upgrade the trading skills of our Igbo brothers to meet up with the advancement of technology and innovation? We can not leave this alone to our governors. Some of them are doing their best while others are clueless. Only a few government officials understand the importance of capacity (re)building and utilisation.

We must start (re)building our capacity to remain competitive at home the same way we have been competitive abroad. Igbos who remain at home must be empowered to remain at home to avoid the danger of this rush-out syndrome. It will also reduce the increased cases of life on the fast lane. The reason I am making this post is simple; if we don’t change, we may not have a place to call home in the next 30 years. Igboland would be deserted. Umunna and Umuada meeting would no longer hold in villages but abroad. We will begin to see Umuada Mbaise meeting in California, Umuada Neni Brisbane branch, and Umunna Nnewi Tokyo General Meeting. We must make hay while the sun still shines.

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