A recent survey conducted by the Centre For Strategic Studies and Youth Development, CSSYD, has revealed that more than 65% of young people in Imo State are contemplating leaving their homeland in search of better opportunities abroad.

The survey, which canvassed opinions across Owerri, the state capital, as well as areas in Orlu and Okigwe, revealed this prevailing sentiment among the youth population.

Of every 10 youths surveyed, a staggering 7 expressed a strong desire to travel to foreign nations, particularly in Europe.

The reasons cited for this mass exodus are deeply rooted in the harsh economic realities of the country.

Unemployment, hunger, and inflation, exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidies by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, have driven many young people in the state to seek opportunities elsewhere.

A significant portion of these youths, comprising 62% of university graduates, find themselves trapped in a cycle of underemployment and informal jobs.

Despite their qualifications, their earnings fall short of meeting basic economic needs, fueling a sense of disillusionment and hopelessness.

Among those aged between 25 and 45, the willingness to leave Imo State and Nigeria is, however, contingent on their ability to finance their overseas trips.

For them, the prospect of a better life abroad outweighs the challenges of enhancing themselves at home.

Furthermore, the report revealed a widespread loss of faith in government intervention to alleviate economic hardship.

A staggering 55% of respondents expressed disinterest in governments policies aimed at addressing the country’s economic woes, disillusioned by the perceived ineffectiveness of state and federal governments.

While some, comprising 29% of respondents, are open to opportunities in other African countries, the overwhelming preference, at 90%, is for countries in Europe.

Canada, the UK, the US, and Germany emerge as the top priority destinations for Imo youths, drawn by the promise of better prospects and higher standards of living.

This trend coincides with Governor Hope Uzodimma’s announcement in October 2023, wherein he pledged to sponsor 4,000 Imo youths to seek employment opportunities in Europe.

While he is yet to fulfill this promise, his administration, in its first tenure, had promoted Imo Digital Economy Agenda, (IDEA), 2022- 2026, with one of its primary pillars being Digital Literacy and Skills Acquisition.

The programme, according to the State government, planned to train 100,000 youths, women and people living disabilities in core 21st century skills in software development, block chain, game development and other technical vocational skills

He had also introduced the “Skill Up Imo Project,” a human capacity development programme focused on empowering Imolites, mainly youths, with cutting-edge digital skills that will keep them relevant in the 21st century.

His administration had also secured partnership of global tech giant, Meta Incorporated, formerly Facebook, to train 5000 tech graduates on digital marketing on Meta social platforms of Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram.

The survey report stated that despite these governments concerted efforts to actively engage the youths in the State, “there is clear absence of sustainable policies to effect economic change in the living conditions of vast majority of youths in the State, who constitute over 60 percent of the entire Imo population”

“While the state government’s initiatives aim to provide relief for unemployed youths in the state, the survey exposes the overwhelming desire of the youths to leave the state and the country because of the worsening economy in the country” part of the report stated.


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