By Afolabi Aribigbola
In recent times, the media space has been flooded with the scary information that many Nigerians are battling with the problem of joblessness and destitution abroad after paying large sums of money to travel agents to relocate to foreign lands. Of course, available information revealed that many of them were lured with the assurances of gainful employment and better living conditions far better than what was obtainable in Nigeria and hence were motivated to dispose of their properties as well as emptied their savings to obtain visas to travel.
The word japa is a Yoruba locution that has been coined to describe the aspiration of young Nigerians to leave or escape to other climes for greener pastures. However, the unpalatable news associated with japa syndrome in recent times was revealed by some victims that spoke to Sky News recently about their harrowing experience since they left Nigeria in search of greener pastures with the assurance of getting jobs in the United Kingdom as promised by their agents, but the story turned out to be an ugly one upon their arrival. The trending news in the media now is that many Nigerians have been stranded abroad.
The associated crisis beyond giving the country a bad name has turned many Nigerians into destitutes and beggars in foreign lands. As indicated earlier, many of them were motivated to leave the country because of unemployment, lack of future and general hopelessness reigning in all parts of the country without any hope of redressing the debilitating living and working conditions of the people of the country. Therefore, to escape the punitive and precarious living conditions of majority many decide to escape to better climes. As these set of people are exiting Nigeria to benefit other more prosperous societies, there seem to be no concrete efforts to address the issue or harness its benefits if any as suggested by some individuals. The concern with the japa trend in the past was that some of the best, active and productive brains and manpower in the professions and academics were leaving the country in large numbers thereby depleting the inadequate human resources of the country. Such a dangerous trend will deny the country the creative and innovative ability of her youths that would be available to other receiving societies.
In recent times, there has been untoward news about the sufferings of some Nigerians that were stranded in United Kingdom and other countries because they could not secure the anticipated employment for them. These stranded Nigerians were deceived to migrate from Nigeria on the promise of better employment and good living once they escape to Europe. The lure of better employment opportunity and living conditions motivated many innocent Nigerians to dispose their property including houses to relocate to Europe and North America. Unfortunately, many of those that sold their belongings to relocate abroad have become destitutes because they could not find the anticipated better jobs on their arrival at their destination. Indeed, someone has described the development as an irony, because as many Nigerians living abroad are working hard to save money to come and build houses in Nigeria, several others are selling theirs to relocate to Europe and America.
Available information indicate that many families spent as much as N30million to fund their relocation abroad. Of course, the dilemma and suffering that such migrants have been exposed to have become a serious source of worry that policy makers and leaders at all levels in the country must begin to look at with a view to finding solutions to the excessive struggle by the people especially the youth segment of the country’s population that are leaving the country. Why is it that most Nigerians particularly the youths want to exit the country to other countries? How did Nigeria descend to a situation where virtually all her youths are ready to escape from the country? And what are the consequences of the mass movement from the country and why is the issue not being addressed as it should be addressed by the country’s leadership? What does the country need to do to stem the current shameful trend in which those who should develop the resources of the country are abandoning it for other climes?
The information at the disposal of the youth determined to run away from Nigeria to those countries, are they really correct? Or are they enough for people to completely abandon their people for an entirely new society?. These are some of the issues that need to be brought to the fore if only to educate the youth about the consequences of their action. And that the people of the country they are running stayed to develop their own society. Indeed Nigeria has enough resources that if properly harnessed, developed and equitably distributed will be sufficient to support the good living of the citizens of the country. Unfortunately, the reverse is the situation as the country is blessed with abundant resources that most of the times remained untapped and those that have been harnessed have been appropriated by few privileged Nigerians to themselves depriving majority benefits accruable from these resources and hence the growing poverty level among the people.
Widespread poverty in different dimensions have been a major factor sending people away from Nigeria over the years. As argued severally in the past, Nigeria got to this level where every Nigerian prefers to relocate abroad not minding the situation they will meet outside. The country situation degenerated to this dismal level because of indiscipline, nepotism, unabated corruption, lack of contentment by the people among other destructive vices. All these cumulatively put the resources of the country in the hands of a few that are swimming in affluence while the majority are deprived of basic things of life and therefore are wallowing in abject poverty. This has earned the country “the title as the world poverty capital. The consequences of all the above are that many seek to leave the country to escape from prevalent sufferings associated with lack and want and other problems including insecurity.
It should be noted that the rich also migrated from the country because they have created a situation where there are crises in all facets of the country’s sectors motivating them and their families to seek refuge from the crises created by them. The reality on ground is that japa is affecting the country negatively because some of her best citizens that could contribute to its ultimate growth and development are abandoning her to the benefit of other countries utilizing the God given gifts and ingenuity in them. This has resulted in shortages of seasoned and competent workers in the professions including academics, medicine, banking and data services among others.
As we are all aware, there is nothing unusual or entirely bad in people migrating from one country to another. It has been part of humanity since creation. Migration has its own benefits in that it gives individuals in some cases better exposure and knowledge to new development and innovations. It also helps individuals and their home country to earn income in foreign currencies as we are witnessing in Nigeria, Asia and Latin America at the moment where billions of dollars are repatriated home. In spite of these seeming benefits, the danger in Nigeria’s case is that almost all the youths want to leave the country, and nobody is coming to the country from other climes.
Worse still is that many will sell all their property and expend their all-life savings to accomplish the relocation. Also, recent reports that many of them could not secure their anticipated employment and have to become beggars make it necessary for Nigeria and Nigerians to reconsider the issue with a view to ensure that their country doesn’t continue to lose people who should contribute to the development of the country to other countries. Therefore, the youths should be made to know that in those countries, it is not all bed of roses and that the work is not readily available except menial jobs and career for old people which citizens of those country don’t like to undertake and they need to show more patriotism towards Nigeria.
The country should avail the youth sufficient information to guide them in their decision to migrate, while the activities of the travel agents need to be controlled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A situation in which many of them deceive the youths about happenings abroad for patronage only for them to become destitutes is not a good development for the country. The leadership of Nigeria should show more interest and commitment in providing for the people of the country so as to discourage out migration.