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General News of Saturday, 28 January 2023


Brain Drain: Obi promises to reverse ‘Japa’ syndrome

Peter Obi Peter Obi

The presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, has pledged that he would reverse the perennial problem of brain drain, a situation that has witnessed several Nigerians deserting the country for greener pastures abroad, if he is elected as the next president of Nigeria.

Obi made the promise during a leadership town hall meeting held at the University of Abuja on Friday.

The brain drain phenomenon, which was rechristened as ‘Japa’, has seen a generation of young health workers, tech gurus and a number of professionals leave Nigeria as a result of insecurity, corruption, failed leadership and several other factors.

But the former Anambra State governor expressed optimism that he could successfully bring about a paradigm shift to the challenge by reversing the trend from brain drain to brain gain.

While addressing a large gathering of students and supporters, the LP candidate said if the right things are done coupled with a conducive atmosphere of opportunities, it would definitely bring about a positive outcome.

He said, “I am sure that by the time we change the fortune of this country, brain drain will reverse to brain gain. Look at China today and see how it is doing well. Those who changed China and other developed countries today were those who rose in the time of difficulties. Don’t worry about those who left our country for greener pastures abroad.

“Quote me, when we do what we are supposed to do here, they will come back. We will create opportunities and give them jobs here. I am optimistic when we do the right thing, more people will want to come back. I have been to abroad myself and can tell you confidently that people want to come back here. But the truth is that nobody wants to come back to anarchy.

“For those of you here who also want to leave, I won’t blame you. But we will create an environment that will make you to come back.”

The former governor also vowed that the frequent industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities would not happen on his watch.

According to him, preventing ASUU strike is not rocket science when the right things such as massive investment in education and commensurate remuneration of the academic staff are taken care of.

“Let me reassure you the Nigerian students that there wouldn’t be another ASUU strike on my watch. I know some people will say it is impossible. Let me tell you that as governor of Anambra State, I had to sit with the leadership of ASUU to address their agitation. And that’s why I can tell you that Anambra State University did not join the last ASUU strike that lasted for eight months. Go and check.

“Schools should not be closed. If they are closed, Nigeria is closed because that is where we are training the future. We have what is called TETFund that takes care of these things and we will ensure its is well managed and give more funding to sustain Nigerian universities.

“Between 2015 and 2021, the total budget for education is about N3.6trn. We are talking about a space of six years. The two biggest sectors that a country should invest in are health and education. The budget for these two combined is not even up to N6trn, yet we are spending N6.7trn on subsidy. We will definitely remove it.

“If we also invest heavily in education, this country will develop. What sustains an institution anywhere in the world is the people. Nobody has ever asked anybody in Nigeria what they do for a living. We should eschew criminality and bad behaviour. Instead, all manners of people are being celebrated. This is a country where councillors are paid more than a professor. But whether they like it or not, we must changed this country.

“Let me tell you that when I used to go to Church in Anambra and tell them if a governor comes late, he should be made to sit at the back. That is where latecomers stay. Long after I left, I heard one councillor came late for service and he was asked to stay at the back,” he stated.