Why More Nigerians Should Japa

By Uche Nnadozie

As at today, Nigeria does not have enough of her citizens resident abroad. While a lot of people think the country is empty following social media induced hysteria about emigration, we still do not impact much with regard to numbers.

Unofficially, there are about 400,000 Nigerians living in the United States with about half of that living in the United Kingdom. Nobody is sure of the rest of the over 200 countries on earth but suffice it to say, we do not measure a lot squared against other countries of the world.

It is even more painful when Nigerians make relocating abroad a negative trump to pillory the country.

The term japa, in Yoruba, which means “flee” symbolizes the negative connotation attached to emigration. Short of saying they are running away from hell to a heaven plated with gold and sapphire. Unfortunately, no place is plated with such luxury.

We have always been told that travelling is part of education. But when It got to the “woke” Twitter savvy end-time crowers, it became a bad thing and a trump card to minimize Nigeria.

Facts on ground show that Nigeria does not measure in the first 10 countries whose citizens japa. Why for example would Chinese citizens coming from the second wealthiest country on earth feature in the list at number two?

India is number one. Their feats in IT, medicine and politics bear testimony to why Nigerians should travel more. Today, an Indian emigrant is the Prime Minister of Britain. That’s some feat!

The full list of countries on the top 10 with highest emigration are:
1 India 16.6
2 Mexico 13
3 Russia 10.6
4 China 10
5 Bangladesh 7.5
6 Syria 6.9
7 Pakistan 6
8 Ukraine 5.9
9 Philippines 5.7
10 United Kingdom 4.9

The numbers are in millions.

Let’s be factual, travel is good. It boasts remittances, helps local economy, sustains families, lead to transfer of skills, knowledge, technology and setting up of businesses to improve local economy.

Rather than folks who japa to be angry, they should be happy for the country. If indeed they value their roots, they should be proud of a future they will repatriate their fortune to help their families and communities. That’s what other emigrants from other countries do. Ours should not be different.

Healthcare workers like doctors and nurses who get trained at home for next to nothing also show ingratitude for getting a chance to migrate. This is bare-faced wickedness. Most of them trianed here in our universities funded by this same country may not have been able to afford such abroad.

Let more Nigerians japa. It’s good for our GDP, living standard and public relations abroad. The wins recorded in the US midterm elections bear testimony. Several persons of Nigerian heritage won seats at both state and federal levels.

Their names alone resonates and put up our flags for pride. That’s also how Europe overtook others to “control” America. We can do the same thing in America, Canada and UK. It’s a matter of time but we must love our motherland first.

Many reasons inform relocations whether abroad or within a country. What experts call the pull and push factors.

Push and pull factors work together when people are migrating, pushing them away from one country and pulling them into a new country.

Pull factors psychologically encourage people to move into a new country, creating a sense of comfort and hope.

Push factors can be many different things. Basically anything that can force a person or a group of people to consider moving to a different country can be considered a push factor. More often than not these factors are political. People can leave a country because they feel oppressed by the government, or they do not feel safe anymore.

Conversely, pull factors are the complete opposite of push factors, as is to be expected. They are the positive aspects of a new country. Pull factors are encouraging, and create a feeling of a better life. Both of these factors work in unison when people are migrating, they are not opposed to each other.

Pull factors do however work in a different way than push factors. Freedom is one of the most common pull factors. Except for dishonest people, Nigerians cannot in good conscience complain about freedom as reason to relocate abroad.

According to Immigration Data Report, 1.7 million Nigerians live abroad. This is paltry if you ask me. In their latest data uploaded January 2021, that’s the number of Nigerians that now live outside our country. It could be more, especially with illegal relocations still active.

Yes, the health sector has been impacted by brain drain. This supposes we are not producing enough. We have not taken advantage of what’s happening in that sector to expand admissions and training for doctors, nurses and other heath care personnel. The universities of medicine should not be in name.

We can export personnel who will go abroad and thrive then repatriate earnings and know-how.

It’s the same for the IT sector. We need far more investment in this area. The hubs and incubation of tech ideas should expand. As a country, we must be intentional about this.

The banking sector has suffered in the last few months because of japa by a lot of their IT staff. This shows even the financial institutions have not adequately invested in replicating expertise. They are probably more interested in profit to the detriment of the system and the nation.

I hope the incoming government will look at the healthcare and IT sectors as veritable engines of growth and intervene in a way to multiply personnel – retain some and allow others to relocate.

Nigeria is swarming with opportunities. The talent is here, but we must love ourselves enough to build back better even from abroad.

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