So many things have been said about the Nigeria Japa syndrome; a sudden move by Nigerians to migrate to other countries particularly the USA, UK and Canada for greener pastures and better opportunities. In the definition of Favor Babajamu in her vlog https://youtu.be/RPR5WjlG1xI
Japa means: depart or flee your country and never return.
That Nigeria is losing her strong, healthy, promising professionals and upcoming youth to the migration craze to other nations is no longer news. Statistics show that over 30,000 Nigerians relocated to the United Kingdom alone in the year 2022. This figure does not include all their dependents. How ironic that one Nigerian student in the UK could arrive with 5 dependents.
My focus on the Japa move is however not on the immediate losses to our Nation as this has become very obvious in the dearth of professionals in the health sector, education and several others. My interest is in the future generation of Nigerian migrants and their offspring in their new countries. I make bold to say this generation is indeed one to watch out for.
Today many Nigerians are doing great exploits in foreign land. The likes of Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, who won the 2022 AFS Award for Young Global Citizens, and became the first African to win the prize since its inception in 1914 will continue to increase in the wake of the rise of Nigerian elite settlers abroad.
Just imagine. What would become the future of these young Nigerians migrating with their parents to the developing world? Given the background of the struggling, determined parents and would be parents, it is reassuring and comforting to state without reservations that these countries are in for a shock as Nigerians “may” gradually take over their economy.
Now don’t get me wrong, it will not happen in two years maybe not even in ten years but in less than three decades, the story of this migration will bounce back on the receiving nations. There will be great transference of wealth, power and position to Nigerians in these nations. The beneficiaries may not be the parents who migrated and may have to do three jobs to survive but rather their children. Imagine a Nigerian (child of an immigrant) becoming the president of the United States of America or Prime Minister in the UK (the likes of Kemi Badenoch)The sad thing however may be that when this happens, many of them would have changed nationality and that is when we will know the value of what we have lost as a nation. I guess by then they may be invited back as “expatriates”.
To really assimilate this truth, I wish to draw our attention to the slave trade and several migration patterns in the past. I don’t want to make this write-up a long one, rather I like it to be thought provoking and forward looking beyond the perceived immediate consequences of the Japa Syndrome.
Just think for a moment about these;
- What is the average group of Nigerians migrating? You can classify them as middle aged, average class, vibrant youth, educated, skilled, highly determined and diligent workers etc. Many with their whole families, young children and so many others that would be born in the new countries
- The high level of desperation to leave is also worrisome. I have seen seemingly successful people dispose of their properties, life time investments in exchange for a PR in Canada.
- Another shocking fact is that family that may be considered below average are as desperate with many of them resulting into borrowing and pulling funds from friends and relatives.
- The recent changes in the migration policies of Canada and UK has become so dynamic and suspiciously flexible such that one cannot but trace the changes to the upsurge of immigrants from African countries. They dangle carrot before unsuspicious migrants. Now what are the implication of these policies?
The Japa conversation is only just beginning. I would rather be positive in my thoughtMigration does not automatically equal better life. It comes at a cost and my advice for anyone who still wishes to join the race is to ensure that due diligence is done before leaving. You must have a strategy that has several options in place. This is because a lizard in Nigeria can only grow to be a fat lizard in the USA but certainly not an alligator.