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Maris lecture: Rep. Ukodhiko, Chiemeke, others proffer solutions to causes of flight of talents from Nigeria

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Member Representing Isoko Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Jonathan Ukodhiko, the Vice Chancellor, University of Delta, (UNIDEL), Agbor and other experts have listed causes of flight of talents from Nigeria and proffered solutions to the challenges.

They spoke at the year 2024 edition of Maris Annual Public Service Lecture held at the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba on Wednesday.

According to Ukodhiko, who is the Deputy Chairman House Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, economic hardship, lack of jobs, gross unavailability of power for production, inflation and galloping exchange rates were fueling flight of talents from Nigeria.

He said that the theme of the lecture ‘Flight of Talents: Navigating Nigeria’s Brain Drain Predicament,’ was apt considering the negative impact of brain drain on the economic development of the country.

Represented by the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Onojaeme, the federal lawmaker who was the Chairman of Occasion, lauded the organisers of the annual public service lecture for the choice of the topic, and urged relevant stakeholders to work towards reversing the trend.

He said, “As an oil and gas professional, I have through my interests in the downstream and upstream sector, provided jobs for numerous Nigerians, however, the rate at which Nigerians are leaving the country in geometric proportion in search of greener pastures abroad is becoming worrisome.

“What is more pathetic about the situation which is now termed ‘japa syndrome’ is because the best skilled professionals from Nigeria are leaving the country thereby creating vacuums in several sectors of our economy.

“Perhaps what is fueling these ‘flight of talents’ from the country include economic hardship, lack of jobs, gross unavailability of power for production, inflation and galloping exchange rates, among other factors.

“The exodus of highly educated and skilled individuals not only deprives Nigeria of its human capital but also exacerbates the brain drain predicament.

“I trust that the erudite keynote speaker and the capable discussants would dissect the topic and proffer adequate solutions to this conundrum that is threatening the fabric of our existence as a nation.”

In her keynote address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delta Agbor, Professor Stella Chiemeke, said that the hemorrhaging of talents from Nigeria had reached alarming proportions threatening not only the nation’s present but its very future.

“Nigeria loses over 50,000 skilled professionals annually to emigration according to United Nations Development Programme UNDP estimates.

“A study by the Development Research and Project Centre reveals that over 5,000 Nigerian doctors migrated to the UK between 2015 and 2022 and approximately 8,737 medical professionals with degrees from Nigeria are currently working in the UK.

“The World Health Organisation WHO estimates a doctor-patient ratio in Nigeria is five times worse than recommended highlighting the devastating impact on healthcare.

“The brain drain is not limited to medicine; the exodus extends to diverse sectors like engineering, finance, IT, and academia, each experiencing a steady loss of their brightest.”

Prof. Chiemeke further said Nigeria could reverse the trend by addressing internal challenges such as significant investments in critical infrastructure and services, basic needs such as power, education, transport, healthcare, combating corruption and insecurity and other utilities to improve business competitiveness.

The lecture which was moderated by Dr Kemi Emina, had discussants including the Delta State Commissioner for Technical Education, Hon. Joan Onyemaechi Ada-Anioma, Chief Economic Adviser to the Delta State Governor, Dr Barry Pere-Gbe, Special Adviser on Investments, Chief Tony Amaechi, member representing Delta Central at the Delta State at the Delta State Local Government Commission, Chief Philomena Ededey Ugheminaye and Freddie Toritseju Erulu-Ede of Eruli-Ede, Eruli-Ede and Co. making insightful recommendations.

While Dr Barry Gbe saw some gains for the country in talent export through diaspora remittances, Hon Onyemaechi argued that Nigeria’s flawed value system has encouraged talents to leave the country to where they are better appreciated.

Other discussants, including Dr Amaechi, identified poor leadership and systemic failures among the causes of talents fleeing the country, even as he suggested attitudinal changes among the government and the governed.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Maris Trust Council, Chief Kenneth Olise whose address was read by Mr Olise Ifeajika, said, “In our usual tradition, we have gathered here again, during the Easter season to discuss topical issues with the sole aim of proffering solutions to the challenges of the society.

“Permit me to commend the dogged spirit of the Secretary of the Council, Comrade Fidelis Egugbo, whose strong belief in God, made it possible for this lecture to be organised annually.

“We thank all of you for your cooperation and commitment to making the society better than we met it.

“We thank our dear Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, for making the Unity Hall, Government House, available for this year’s lecture and for making Delta State conducive for an international discourse to take place. No doubt, Delta has become the tourist delight of all.”

The acting Chairman, Delta State Civil Service Commission, Lady Rosaline Amioku was the Mother of the Day and Rev. Fr. John Konyeke, a Catholic Priest of Issele-Uku Diocese was Father of the Day at the well attended lecture.

The Maris Annual Public Service Lecture honours the memory of the late daughter of Comrade Fidelis Egugbo, a Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the Governor of Delta State.

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