Brain drain, corruption, insecurity damaging Nigeria – Carrington

Former United States of America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, has spoken of the grave damage brain drain and corruption did to Nigeria as a country.
Noting that over three million Nigerians are in United States and Canada, Carrington said people rather than commodities constitute the greatest export of Nigeria from which U.S. and other countries of the world profit.
He spoke at a lecture he delivered to mark the 29th convocation of the University of Ilorin in Kwara State on Monday.
He advised Nigerians to place priority on labour intensive sector above capital intensive sector to aid the country’s economic development.
The lecture was entitled, ‘On the Dawn of Nigeria’s Second Century: Challenges to a New Generation.’
The ex-envoy said Nigerians in the U.S. excel in their contributions to all sectors of that country and have so much to contribute to development of Nigeria.
He noted that the people are scared by corruption and growing rate of insecurity from coming home.
“During the days of military dictatorships, so many of your best and brightest fled abroad. Students overstayed their visas and professionals remained abroad, so reluctant were they to return home.
“As a result, over three million Nigerians live and work in the United States and Canada to say nothing of the large numbers in the United Kingdom. They excel in their contributions to all sectors or our society.
“I have said many times to American audiences that I regard Nigerians as the most accomplished immigrant group in the United States. What made Nigeria the country that I looked up to for so long was the fact that it produced some of the most educated, most talented black people to be found anywhere on earth.
“My country and others around the world profit from Nigeria’s greatest export – her accomplished people. I often ask Nigerians who are legally in the U.S. why they remain. The two major impediments to going back which they cite are their fears of the omni-presence of corruption and the growing absence of security.
“They cringe whenever they hear Nigeria belittled on television comedies because of 419 schemes.
“They have so much to contribute to their homeland and ways must be found to create the environment which will invite them to return and reverse the brain drain which does so much damage to the body politic,” he added.
Carrington said until the country is able to rely less on capital intensive sectors and more on labour ones it would be difficult for it to meet its ambitious goals to make the list of the world’s 20 most important economies.
He advised that as the country begins its second century of existence by next year it should be dedicated to diversification of its economy and stop being over dependent on oil.
He said the country should add value to its treasure trove of other natural resources and that this could be done by stopping sending raw materials abroad.
Rather, he added, such materials should be processed into finished products through a revitalised manufacturing sector.
The former U.S. envoy said diversification of the economy was urgently needed to make the economy less vulnerable to downswings in petroleum prices.
He advised President Goodluck Jonathan to make poverty reduction the major goal of his transformation agenda so that its impact can be felt by the masses of the country.
“It is imperative that poverty reduction be a major goal of the agenda and not a marginalised one as it appears to have been so often in the past in too many countries.
“If not, then progress will be limited and the plight of the poor will become even more hopeless,” he stated.

Daily Independent
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