NIGERIA is the most populous country in Africa, with estimates ranging from 180 to 190 million people. Youth make up the majority of this demographic. The most pressing issue in securing sustainable development in Nigeria is putting resources at the youth’s disposal that will enable them to become assets instead of liabilities to the country’s economy. Access to quality education is the first step to ensuring Nigeria’s youth fully participate in the knowledge economy.
It is in this context that Joseph Blabo, a young Nigerian graduate who lives in Makoko, a riverine slum on the fringes of the Lagos lagoon, was inspired to start a nursery and primary school a few years ago. He lacked the funds for an initial capital investment so he reached out to his aunt who was living overseas for help.
According to Joseph, ‘The vision to start a school was one that I shared with my uncle, and we then asked ourselves how to raise the money. We talked about it to my aunt who was living overseas. She bought into the idea and sent us some money through Western Union. With that money, we bought some tables and chairs, and then paid for a building, and moved into it. Then we started to create awareness for the new school that was about to begin. The result was amazing. In three months, we had registered about 100 pupils.’
Diaspora remittances contribute significantly to Nigeria’s GDP. In 2014 alone, a total of $21bn was remitted to the country by Nigerians in the diaspora. This money enables Nigerians to start local businesses, attend to pressing health issues, and contribute to their children’s education, among other priorities.
Joseph added, ‘I love what I am doing, running this school. It gives me so much joy to see the children so happy. Whenever your relative has the opportunity to travel overseas, is doing well over there and is interested in lending a helping hand to those back home, his or her family or community, just advise them to walk up to Western Union, pay in the money, and send word to the people back home to go pick it up.’
Nigeria is the fifth largest remittance receiver globally, according to the World Bank. Joseph’s story is replicated in the lives of thousands of Nigerian individuals who rely heavily on remittances by relatives living overseas to pay for everyday needs or to undertake small or big scale projects. They are examples of real-life stories of people back home whose lives have been positively enhanced, or even changed completely, by money sent home by their families and friends in the diaspora. In 2015, more than 195 countries and territories sent money into Nigeria, and 160 received money from Nigeria, reflecting the extraordinary global connections brought about by the rise in migration of Nigerians to many parts of the world.
Take an inside look at the primary school Joseph Blabo produced in this video: http://bit.ly/1Me0Owz