Opinion, Politics

Japa Syndrome: Causes And Future Impact On Nigeria

Ogunbiyi Kayode


February 4, 2024

Dear Beamers,

Welcome to our newsletter! In this edition, we bring you updates on key developments across various sectors. We have explored three carefully chosen topics this week, including the prevalent desire to migrate for a better life.

The ongoing trend prompts questions about its impact on Nigeria’s future. We share a concern regarding this trend, stimulating our decision to thoroughly investigate the matter. While we have gotten answers to all your likely questions on this topic, enjoy a refreshing read about the migration trend while sipping on a very cold ‘zobo.’ Gain insights as this article explores the factors driving the current “japa” trend in Nigeria and possible solutions

Global migration is experiencing a notable surge, characterized by a significant transition in residence or location. Despite fostering cultural interchange, migration poses significant challenges for both individuals and their home countries. This complex phenomenon is shaped by diverse factors such as economic prospects, unemployment rates, aspirations for international academic credentials, family reunification, environmental considerations, conflict, and the pursuit of an improved quality of life.

In recent years, Nigeria has experienced a notable shift marked by the widespread adoption of the colloquial term ‘Japa’ to describe a significant outmigration trend. This phenomenon signifies the increasing number of young Nigerian professionals, brimming with potential and ambition, opting to pursue careers and opportunities abroad.

A substantial transnational migration of Nigerians, particularly to Europe, has transpired through diverse means. While some have resorted to illegal channels, journeying porous land borders, the Sahara, and the Mediterranean into Europe, others have adhered to legal routes, equipped with requisite documentation. Regardless of the approach, a consistent trend reveals that a growing number of Nigerians embark on this journey daily. Nigerians are on a relentless mission to export their contents, gifts, skills, and products, including themselves.

According to Adebayo Orimogunje, a knowledgeable observer and entrepreneur specializing in agricultural produce:

“The mass migration of Nigerians abroad is indeed a complex issue, influenced by various factors. A notable cause is the lack of employment opportunities in Nigeria. This alone has led many Nigerians to seek work overseas to support themselves and their families due to the scarcity of quality employment at home.”

He added “Some pursue further education abroad, believing they would receive a superior education. Another crucial factor is the political instability and insecurity in Nigeria, with many Nigerians feeling unsafe due to high levels of crime, violence, and corruption. That’s why, there is an increase in people seeking asylum in other countries, in addition to better economic opportunities, political stability, and security beyond Nigeria’s borders.”

For numerous Nigerians, migration is perceived as an avenue to break free from poverty and elevate their living standards, fueled by increased rate of unemployment and poverty within the country. A critical concern emerges with the substantial emigration of Nigerian healthcare professionals, causing a rapid decline in the health sector.

According to Grace Temidayo, a nurse at Beta-life Pharmaceuticals,

“Japa is a Yoruba word that means to escape from an entanglement.The news is everywhere, the rate at which Nigerian doctors and nurses leave Nigeria keeps rising yearly. About seven of my colleagues that we attended nursing school together are now in the United Kingdom. These are persons with great experience in the field. Many Nigerians are desperately paying ‘the price’ for legal migration from the country. They will do whatever it takes to fly out.”

The inability to furnish its expanding population with essential amenities, employment prospects, and security has rendered Nigeria’s system fragile, prompting a significant exodus. Persistent violence and insecurity have driven numerous citizens to seek refuge elsewhere, as daily reports of kidnapping, attacks by unknown gunmen, and mass killings in small communities further compound the challenges faced within the country.

Nigeria boasts numerous brilliant young minds with innovative ideas to uplift the nation. However, a disheartening reality surfaces as the country transforms into a mere training ground for these intellects. The absence of viable platforms to implement their ideas within Nigeria has become evident. Disturbing statistics underscore the escalating trend of Nigerians seeking education abroad, emphasizing the need for an environment that nurtures and utilizes the intellect and creativity indigenous to the nation.

In the words of Fisayomi, an NYSC member in Lagos,

“In my opinion, departure of young, talented professionals is a loss that will lead to brain drain in Nigeria. Many of these professionals, when leaving promised to come back to significantly contribute to the development of their home country. Who returns to Nigeria after such opportunity?
She added “With the wealth of knowledge, networks, and resources they will be exposed to over there, they’d never dream of coming back here, ever again. Most of the graduates out here are either secretly planning to Japa or they have gotten their papers already”

Another corp member said ,

“I had big dreams of becoming a computer analyst, but look at me now, advertising iPhones and used laptops on WhatsApp, unemployed on the street. At 28, I’m considered too old for some roles, which could have been avoided if not for all the strikes by ASUU. You struggle to gain admission, you struggle to graduate, and you still struggle to get a good job. Nothing seems to work here.”

Unless the Nigerian government demonstrates the necessary political resolve for reform, the japa syndrome is probably just getting started. Simply fortifying legitimate outmigration processes, without addressing underlying issues, may drive many Nigerians toward the perilous path of irregular migration. It is imperative for leaders to recognize the urgency of fulfilling their primary responsibilities in managing public funds for the collective welfare. This intentional commitment is vital to fulfilling their social contract with Nigerian citizens and addressing the root causes that trigger the urge to migrate.

In conclusion, resolving the issue of mass migration from Nigeria necessitates a well defined strategy for cultivating a robust and resilient economy. This involves job creation, economic diversification, investments in education and technology, and the resolution of political instability and security issues. By undertaking these measures, the government can pave the way for a brighter future, offering citizens the opportunity to build fulfilling lives within Nigeria.

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