Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, has been in the eye of the storm lately, with the allegation that she forged an NYSC Exemption Certificate, to secure an earlier appointment, as a public servant in Ogun State.

However, despite President Muhammed Buhari’s professed zero tolerance for corruption and unwholesome practices in public office, government has, inexplicably, not shown any interest to investigate the allegation, while NYSC’s Administration, has simply signed off, with a non-committal, open ended statement that “we shall investigate the origin of the purported Exemption Certificate in question.” Similarly, the Nigerian Police Force has insisted that they cannot investigate the matter, since they have not received any official complaint.

Nonetheless, despite the subsisting allegation of forgery, which has not been denied, the Finance Minister, was lately elected to chair the board of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), at its General Meeting in Abuja, in July 2018. 

Arguably, President Buhari will burnish his image for discipline and accountability, in public office, if due process is strictly followed in the investigation of the NYSC Certificate forgery; clearly, a personal apology is nowhere prescribed, as legal penalty for the crime of forgery.

Hopefully, however, from a positive perspective, Adeosun’s predicament may induce a second look at the requirement for Nigerians, who graduated abroad, to participate in the compulsory 12 months Service Year for ‘Youth Corpers;’ failure to comply, invariably, excludes any Nigerian graduate, below 30 years, from employment in the Public Service or in the Organised Private Sector. However, even if the conduct and content of the scheme still leave much to be desired, there is undoubtedly, much to be said for the vision of the founding fathers that the scheme would to facilitate youth exposure and national integration. 

Unfortunately, there is presently no yardstick for assessing the national utility of the NYSC scheme, against the hundreds of billions of Naira, expended over the years, and the impact of the insecurity, the social and economic uncertainties that these youths have to forcibly endure. 

Some critics find very little value in the present NYSC scheme and, therefore suggest that if we must sustain the programme, there are good reasons to reconstruct, its structure and content, so that the current challenges relating particularly, to healthcare, transportation, accommodation, feeding, and ideology can be properly addressed. The NYSC scheme clearly has both social and economic implications, as participants are relocated outside their accustomed comfort zones for almost 12 months. Furthermore, for those graduates with exceptional results, who may already have better paying jobs waiting for them, participation implies loss of a whole year’s income, in place of the very modest NYSC monthly stipend below $100. 

Invariably, compared with their overseas counterparts; participation in NYSC would expectedly be less traumatic for graduates from Nigerian Universities, who are physically on ground; undeniably, the plight of Nigerian graduates from foreign universities, is probably significantly multiplied, even when the rigours of NYSC service don’t necessarily make the participant a better Nigerian.

Expectedly, therefore, with the present obstacles and challenges of compelled continental relocation, there is generally, very little inclination for Nigeria’s foreign graduates to return home in a hurry. Notably, apart from the social and psychological pressures of returning home for NYSC, the total cost of relocation for a foreign graduate, significantly exceeds the modest equivalent of about $1000 dollars, paid as stipend, by government, for the whole service year. The horrendous downside also, is that the serious challenges of participating in the NYSC scheme, may FOREVER discourage the return of thousands of diversely qualified, young Nigerian graduates back home, to reduce the expanding deficit in our nation’s human capital and steadfastly drive increasing social and economic growth in Nigeria.

Sadly, therefore, Nigeria’s loss, invariably becomes gain in human capital for those host countries, where our wards and children pay humongous sums in foreign exchange to study. This phenomenon is generally, aptly described as “BRAIN DRAIN” (The Webster Dictionary defines Brain Drain as “the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration or the departure of educated or professional people from one country’s economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions). Ironically, the income challenged home economies, which funds the education and training of such migrant workers with significant sacrifice, regrettably, turns around to become increasingly deprived of the same vibrant human capital, which they require to drive their domestic socio-economic development.

Thus, in an unexpected turnaround, an obviously poorer economy, inexplicably, ultimately, becomes a humble recipient of morsels of economic aid from those same countries, whose treasuries are constantly buoyed by the substantial foreign exchange, remitted annually for the education of our wards and children in the US and other OECD countries.

If this same model of engagement persists, between our country and other more successful economies, whose growth and development, we ironically seem to willfully fund, it is unlikely that the scale will ever tilt in our favour! These host countries, clearly recognise the commercial and economic advantages, derived from the subsisting arrangement, as our Newspapers and other popular media are regularly surfeit with eye catching advertisements and campaigns to enroll Nigerian students for undergraduate studies in Universities, in countries such as the UK, US, EU and Canada. 

Nonetheless, the World Bank and its affiliates are quick to point out that the undenied Brain Drain, actually, ultimately translates to ‘income’ GAIN for countries with decayed educational infrastructure, such as ours; these otherwise respectable international financial Guardians, suggest that the over $20bn, reportedly, annually remitted from Nigerians in the Diaspora, also contribute steadily to growth of per-capita income, which in-turn stimulates consumer demand to encourage real sector investment, economic growth and more job opportunities.

Invariably, it is generally mute that the $20bn reported remittance, is probably less than 10 percent of the annual total value of the human capital contribution which these host economies benefit from our wards and children who migrated or studied and remained aboard. Who is to say that Nigeria’s foreign based human capital cannot also create over $200bn annually, in value terms locally, if our government adopts sensible economic models to drive the economy? Incidentally, $200bn human capital value of Nigerians working abroad, is ten times larger than the 2018 federal budget of N9.12tn. 

It is obviously not in the interest of foreign host Universities, and economies, for Nigeria to improve its educational infrastructure.  The reality is that, with the estimated annual requirement of about $50000, per person to study and live in the USA, UK, Canada and the EU, it is estimated that Nigerian families probably spend well over $2bn annually as fees and allowances for their wards in foreign institutions, i.e. this is much more than the total federal fiscal allocation for education for most years since 1999; this amount does not, of course, include cost of air tickets for the students and parents, whenever they wish to visit their children or wards abroad for any reason, including childbirths.  Sadly, the modest aid we receive, in return, is often a small fraction of the total outflow from Nigeria, particularly when the real value of our offshore human capital, which is in excess of N200bn is also captured. 

It surely makes sense with the prevailing reality to redress this imbalance by removing any obstacle, such as the compulsory NYSC scheme for those Nigerians who graduated abroad and are willing to return home to supplement our human capital.

However, a more fundamental shift will evolve, such that youth migration and the current exorbitant outlay on education in foreign lands will significantly fall, if the purchasing power of domestic incomes become realistically realigned. For example, if the Naira exchanges for a small fraction of its current “contrived” value, Nigeria’s Diaspora graduates, will probably make a beeline back home, despite the challenges of insecurity and poor infrastructures.