Why are they leaving?

Cheta Nwanze
2 min readJan 22, 2022

I came across an interesting tweet which speaks to a mindset all too prevalent in Nigeria. The belief that everything is about money. I recommend reading

’s 2017 piece on why many in his circle even then, were leaving the country.

Let me tell a story…

On 29 September 2021, I got on a plane to travel out of Nigeria for a course in international security. Given the work I do with SBM Intelligence, the course fits. At the airport lounge, I noticed an unusual amount of families, many of them leaving the country as whole units. Many of these people were in the 35 to 50 age range. I mentioned this to a friend later on, and he found it ludicrous.

“Why would people who were in middle to upper management leave everything to essentially go and start all over again?” he asked.

Months later, he sent me this…

Let me remind you of this piece that I wrote on 1 October 2021, where I attempted to explain some of the drivers behind the wave of departures we saw in September 2021.

Now, let us ask ourselves a question, have the drivers of emigration changed?

Heck, with incidents such as the tragedy of Sylvester Oromoni’s murder at Dowen College, the likelihood has increased that more people would want to get their kids out of Nigeria, which is where the rub comes in, emigration isn’t cheap. To move to Canada, you need to show $25,000CAD (₦10.75 million) as funds minus ticket and initial accommodation for a family of four. To move to Britain, you need £19,611 (₦14.9 million).

How many people in Nigeria where the median income is ₦137,400 per year can reach those amounts?

Essentially, emigration (legal migration that is), is for those who can afford it, ergo, the cream of society. The mid-level to upper-level managers, the very people Nigeria needs to function. We need to ask ourselves why our country is unable to keep hold of such people.

Asking ourselves such questions is not a matter of sentiment or childish politics. It is a matter of genuinely trying to understand why, with the exception of a brief period between 2008 and 2015, our country has tended to be a net exporter of its best hands.



Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.