When it is said, according to the famous expression, to let sleeping dogs lie; for the uninitiated, it actually means to leave a delicate situation alone so as not to worsen it.
There’s no denying the fact that the Nigerian government is working out plans to make its society more conducive to living for her citizens, and also to foreigners to bring investments and explore opportunities in the country. But to jump from the initial stage of these plans and straight to a point when the government is chest-thumping that all is now perfect and boldly calling its citizens abroad to return home is not the ideal approach.
The recent call by the Nigerian government, through its Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, to Nigerians living abroad to return home is clearly an attempt at provoking or rousing a sleeping dog.
Undoubtedly, most Nigerians, home or abroad, are a patriotic group of people. They don’t need a special assembly or a town hall meeting organised by the government to appeal to them on the subject of home-coming and supporting nation-building. After all, some of them have been taking, without the prompting of government, initiatives on giving the fortunes of their motherland a positive spin despite the numerous difficulties inherent therein.
Hence, the most important responsibility of government is to put its house in order and, upon achieving this, wait to see the voluntary movement of Nigerians with means and capacity in diaspora back home to support development.
But without this in place, what we will continue to see is the exodus of skilled and unskilled Nigerians braving all means, like the dangerous Libya-Mediterranean route, to flee the country which sadly has been the case in recent times.
So, the reply sent to the Nigerian government by Nigerians who were present at the town hall meeting Onu hosted in America signposts to areas of improvement. It was also a strong indication that more work needs to be done.
“When the Kaduna refinery broke down, I brought the engineers who built the refinery to Nigeria severally to revamp it but we were not able to make any headway,” US-based Nigerian, Emmanuel Anosike said.
“I have been to Nigeria 37 times with projects and investors but I have been frustrated all the 37 times. Its just very sad that you leave here with the best intentions and youre frustrated,” he added.
Putting her concern straight to the minister, Jolly Abu, also a US-based Nigerian, said, “when you leave now, to have access to you will be very difficult. We’ve been in Nigeria several times but to gain access to the minister becomes a problem.
“Several times we spend months and we go back the same. The people coming from diaspora, when they want to register a company at home, it becomes a problem”.
Many others spoke candidly about the encumbrances to happy home-coming and even the precarious state those at home live in.
Theirs were evidently unsurprising responses going by what is largely debated on the current socio-economic and political condition of Nigeria. And in a nutshell, the government needs to double up.