Many Nigerians, especially those in the middle class and the rich, have left the country in recent years in what is popularly known as “japa” (a Yoruba word that means ‘run quickly’). Many more are preparing to emigrate.
Omoniyi Ade, a well-to-do businessman with a house of his own and employees, said his decision to relocate to Canada was due to security and quality of life over there.
“Once you enter Canada with your children, their education is settled to any level — I mean to the best educational standard; it’s no longer your headache,” he said.
Olubunmi Afolabi, a senior nurse in a military hospital with a competitive salary, said she had to resign from her job owing to the failure of the government to provide a better Nigeria for all citizens.
“I resigned from my job because the system is frustrating, and I need a better life for my family. What is the point of living in a country where you are not safe, and your future is not guaranteed,” she said.
BusinessDay interviewed over two dozen Nigerians and 81 percent of them citied a worsening economic climate resulting in a low standard of living and education as their main reasons for leaving.
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Others say profiling of some young people, especially by officials of the Nigeria Police Force, as fraudsters informed their decision to leave the country.
Anthony Emeka, a distributor, cited insecurity as the reason for leaving the country. “I was kidnapped, they emptied my bank account and my people still paid ransom; they took my car and damaged it.”
He said: “One of them transferred money directly from my account to his, and one bought airtime directly from my bank. I took all the evidence to the police and was asked to pay N200,000.
“A month after that, police at Enugu stopped me while driving back to Abuja, planted dirty panties in my luggage while searching it, and threatened to shoot me right there if I argued and did not cooperate with them. They labelled me a Yahoo boy/man.”
Olawale Olonade, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Covenant University in Ota, attributed the emigration to loss of faith in the country.
“Nigerians are exiting the country largely because they have lost faith in the country. Unemployment, rising economic crisis, poverty, and insecurities, among others, contribute to why people are leaving,” he said.
Lasisi Lukman, a postgraduate research assistant at LBS Public Sector Initiative, said Nigeria’s security needs a comprehensive overhaul as it has become a critical issue.
“The current situation is not solely centred on financial concerns. It has reached a point where individuals are forced to make a difficult choice between leaving the country and preparing to pay a ransom,” he said.
Joshua Olorunmaiye, an associate at Banwo & Ighodalo, said he believes that the ‘japa’ wave is attributed to a conglomeration of many factors, such as lack of faith and reduced hope in the governance and dearth of skills in many countries which has made migrants a ready labour market.
He said: “In my view, reduced hope seems to be the biggest factor, because although no country is perfect and nation-building is not a walk in the park, the absence of hope makes the problem we face, as a nation, seem even more daunting.
“Normally, good governance should serve as a buffer, such that even when there is a period of adversity, people should trust in their government to ameliorate the situation or at least empathise with them.”