June 15, 2024

“JAPA SYNDROME”: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE?

 

By: Emmanuel Ehidiamen

Japa- a popular Yoruba slang widely used among all and sundry in daily conversation in the Nigerian Metropolis, is a term referring to the search for greener pastures in Western countries by migration. Nigerians now, especially the Youths and Young adults, have successfully bought into the idea that this country, due to its numerous economic problems has nothing significant for the enhancement of their future; hence they seek better opportunities by relocating abroad.

Unfortunately, the situation in Nigeria’s ‘japa’ is escalating. A recent study on social cohesion in Nigeria found that seven out of ten Nigerians are willing to migrate to another country for a variety of reasons, many of whom are successful.

Today, the desire to leave Nigeria continues to grow among people young and old. Nigeria’s current net migration rate is -0.273 per 1,000 population, indicating that more people are migrating from Nigeria. The disappointing truth is that Nigeria is currently mired in a deep brain drain and will likely require urgent assistance.

Approximately 8,737 medical professionals with degrees from Nigeria are currently working in the UK. 353 Nigerian physicians were registered to practice in the UK between June 2021 and September 2021, according to the UK General Medical Council. In contrast, 862 Nigerian physicians were granted licenses to practice in the country in 2020. This should trouble us all – in a country where the ratio of doctor per patient is 1:5,000 against the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1:600. Nigerians who earned their degrees in Nigeria are being harvested by foreign countries.

The fact that the majority of our friends who departed the country are now highly qualified people with a wealth of talents in various fields is depressing. Over three million Nigerians are enrolled in various higher education institutions in Europe alone, according to data released by the Association of Nigerian Students in Europe in July 2022. Additionally, according to a survey, 89.87 percent of young Nigerians would rather attend a university outside their nation. The desire to leave Nigeria is expressed by 73 percent of Nigerians, 60 percent of doctors, and 89.87 percent of students.

That drives home the most important question: What are these immigrants seeing that the government fails to see and curb? First, the socioeconomic problems that Nigerian youth face are a source of frustration. These concerns are exacerbated by broken government promises and poor leadership that lacks accountability and transparency. Cold development resulted from the situation, which also diverts limited resources that could be used to enhance infrastructure, impedes the advancement of education and public health, and tips the odds against the majority of the poor. Nigeria’s unemployment rate is predicted to rise to 33% in 2023 from 22% in 2022. The year before, it was predicted that this percentage would be 32.5%.

Historical data indicates a consistent increase in Nigeria’s unemployment rate over the past few years. Of the approximately 40 million young people in Nigeria who can work, only 14.7 million are in full-time employment and the remaining 11.2 million are unemployed. Instead of being given more power, they have been reduced to a group of irate citizens, many of whom have turned into political puppets and agents of chaos for the nation’s enemies. Meanwhile, the offspring of these politicians attend esteemed foreign universities and graduate on schedule, while Nigerian undergraduates contend with ongoing strikes and unsettling teaching aids.

By taking the lead from China, we can turn the mass exodus of Nigerians into valuable opportunities. The Wall Street Journal covered the reasons and circumstances behind the Chinese emigration in an article titled “The Great Chinese Exodus”. It said: ‘’Today, China’s borders are wide open. Almost anybody who wants a passport can get one. And Chinese nationals are leaving in vast waves: Last year, well over 100 million outbound travelers crossed the frontiers. Most are tourists who come home. But rapidly growing numbers are college students and the wealthy, and many of them stay away for good. A survey by the Shanghai research firm Hurun Report shows that 64% of China’s rich—defined as those with assets of more than $1.6 million—are either emigrating or planning to.’’

Through innovation, technology transfer, and capital investment, the Chinese diaspora made a significant contribution to China’s ascent to prominence in the world economy. Some have even suggested that Chinese diaspora members stole Western technology and brought it back to their homeland. The Chinese government views its citizens living abroad as agents, serving as both an extension of the country and a means of advancing its internal goals. The government actively interferes in the lives of its nationals living overseas, even swaying projects in Chinese-populated areas.

Nothing is lost entirely. If the Nigerian government so chooses, it can turn these lemons into lemonade.

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