With more than N17 trillion spent by Nigerians on health tourism and education abroad in 10n years, they beat the amount allocated by the federal government to the two sectors by two times over the same period.
The deduction is borne from the fact that over the last 10 years, Nigerians spent $30 billion (N12.3 trillion on education and $11 billion (4.5 trillion) on health in foreign lands. That amounts to $41 billion, about N17 trillion in today’s exchange rate.
The revelation was made during the weekend by the head, Agusto Consulting, Jimi Ogbobine, while delivering a lecture at a forum organized by The Alvin Report and Nairametrics.
He was speaking on the theme: Hemorrhaging Naira: What Hope? In which he said, the exchange rate of a currency in relation to another cannot be divorced from its rate of inflation.
During the same period, the federal government’s budget for education summed to a paltry N5.24 trillion and N3.831 trillion for health.
On average, over the period under the spotlight, the federal government allocated 521.49 billion to the health sector, and N383.12 to the health sector; while a collective of the Nigerian population spent more than N12.5 trillion on education abroad and more than N4.5 trillion on health tourism.
To put that into perspective, what was spent on education by Nigerians abroad is more than the annual budget of the federal government in any year in the history of the country. It also shows that the amounts, if spent in the sectors Nigeria would have impacted much positively on the Nigerian economy by saving and creating jobs, as well as saving hard currency.
The implication for the health sector is that a growing number of Nigerians are losing confidence in the health system as well as the education system.
Recall that two months ago, Saudi Arabian interest came to Nigeria to recruit Nigerian doctors in the hundreds to fill vacancies in that country’s health sector.
Recently, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Tanko Sununu said Nigeria would have lost at least 500 million dollars to medical tourism in 2020 but for restrictions on foreign travels due to COVID-19.
He said thousands of Nigerians could not jet out of the country in search of medical care due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It is estimated that Nigeria loses about one billion dollars annually on medical tourism as almost 500 Nigerians go abroad monthly to seek medical intervention.
In the education sector, according to figures from Campus France’s Chiffres Cles 2021 report, Nigeria saw 76,338 students head abroad to study in 2018, a drop of 11 per cent which the report attributed to the drop in oil prices, the depreciation of the local currency and the lack of international purchasing power among the Nigerian middle class.
The British Council determined in 2015 that Nigeria’s number of outbound postgraduate students will grow the fastest in the world through 2025, followed by India (with a projected annual average growth of 7.5 per cent), Indonesia (7.2 per cent), Pakistan (6.4 per cent ), and Saudi Arabia (5.2 per cent).
Whereas some economists who spoke with NATIONAL ECONOMY say the outward trend of Nigerian students constitutes brain-drain, Ogbobine said it is a good thing. He said whereas Nigeria has lost $30 billion in ten years by more Nigerians seeking education abroad, the trend is also contributing to increased remittances from Nigerians living abroad on an annual basis.
He said prior to the advent of COVID-19, Nigerians were remitting a whopping $25 billion to the country yearly, which he said is contributing to economic growth.
Ogbobine also said the remittances were contributing to Nigeria’s balance of payments, which he said is a positive thing.