• Friday, December 01, 2023
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‘Japa’ and the allegory of Elimelech’s journey to Moab

Japa: Nigerians sell properties to afford fares to US, Europe

The rave in Nigeria at the moment is the japa syndrome. Many Nigerians seem to be bitten by the bug.
It is common these days to hear people tell one another, “O, I thought you have japa-ed.”

The Immigration offices across the country are bursting at their seams with human beings who besiege the offices to process their passports.
Almost all the Embassies in the country are receiving countless Visa applications from Nigerians. There is no country they do not want to go to so far it is not Nigeria.
The categories of people who are in this desperate move to japa cut across all strata. They range from professionals (medical doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, technologists, journalists) to stark illiterates who neither even passed through primary school nor have any reasonable skill to survive in a foreign land.
For those in this last group, they believe that Manna still falls from heaven, any how.
Some are so desperate that they take a lot of risks in order to achieve that aim. Despite serious of warnings, urging people not to fall victim to organ harvesters who pose as innocent sponsors, the list of desperate japa enthusiasts is elongating on a daily basis.

Read also: 5 things men planning to ‘japa’ must not do

But the question is, does everybody that japa live a beautiful life in the countries of choice?

Some people sell off everything they have to enable them raise ticket money to relocate abroad.

“Some of those countries where Nigerians are running to have their own insecurity and economic challenges too, even though it varies in degree,” an aide to a politician told BusinessDay.

Some have had to lose everything they took abroad and are now living in want. Some are even begging to be repatriated.

Read also: Quest for better living conditions, education fuels ‘japa’ wave

A story is told of a nurse who spent twelve years in the UK looking for permanent residency. She was a qualified matron in Nigeria. But because she did not have the green card, she was unable to get a job that guarantee good life. She had to return to Nigeria after 12 years of abandoning husband and children in Nigeria in search of greener pasture.

A school teacher in Lagos recounted her experience with some Nigerians residing in the United Kingdom when she travelled there.
“It is not everybody that lives in London that is rich. When I travelled there the last time, they were asking me if I came on sponsorship or I paid for myself? I said to them that I came on my own. In fact, I dashed some of them money. Can you imagine that? The truth is that the environment is good and better to live in than ours; but if you have a good job, there is no need relocating. To visit and come back is good. Many of them over there cannot come home in ten years and most of those children born there will never return to Nigeria to live; so, what is the essence? There is no place like home,” she said.

Read also: ‘Japa’: How FG can slow down brain drain

She also said that many Nigerians are stranded in foreign land and would wish to come back to Nigeria without success.

“Do you know that even many of those who japa-ed not long ago are regretting because what they imagined is not what they are seeing. There is nowhere people pick money on the ground or pluck it on the tree. In fact, they are under pressure more than we are. Many of them keep multiple jobs to make ends meet. They hardly rest. Are there those who are making it abroad, the answer is capital yes; just like some people are building mansions, buying big cars and doing other big projects despite our bad economy. The advice is that people must seek divine guidance before taking decisions;” the tutor said.
A story is told in the scripture of a man called Elimelech who was so frustrated in his native tribe of Judah that he decided to relocate to some other country he thought would offer him respite.
He took his wife, Naomi, his two sons-Mahlon and Chilion- out of Judah and they settled in the land of Moab.
While on the foreign soil, Mahlon married a Moabite convert- Ruth; Chilion married Orpah. Things began to happen in quick succession; Elimelech died, leaving no inheritance. His two children died also. They all left their wives behind.
Then poverty set in to deal with them. Elimelech thought that by leaving Judah, he would have a breath of fresh air in Moab, but he was far from the truth. Suffering was intense even in Moab.
Many Nigerians today are taking the Elimelech option and a huge number of them are paying direly for it. Many Nigerians have, and are also daily taking dangerous journeys out of the country in a bid to beat the excruciating man-made problems in Nigeria.

There have been reports about the inhuman treatment and death of many Nigerian youths, particularly, ladies, on the Mediterranean Sea enroute Italy. These call to mind the plight of “run-away” Nigerians. Like Elimelech, stories abound of a number of Nigerians that perished in foreign lands, together with their immediate families in their quest to enjoy a relatively good life. In various parts of the world Nigerians are being killed by their hosts who see them as threats. In Libya, they are unwanted aliens; in South Africa they are hated with impunity and treated with ignominy. In some other places, the Nigerian is perceived as an irritant. While it may be easy to condemn the penchant by many Nigerians to take huge risk of fleeing Nigeria by going through the deserts, all in the name of escaping suffering, the Nigerian government is worthy of many stripes by turning the country into a land that eats its inhabitants.

Recently, while addressing a gathering of students at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Peter Obi, governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the last general election, had warned them against the japa syndrome.

Read also: Breakdown in social contract promoting ‘japa’ syndrome

Obi said to them: “You can no longer be running away from your country. Some of you die in ships and in seas. We protested against slave trade, now Nigerians are selling themselves. Please, buy me to Canada; buy me to Japan, when our parents resisted to be sold. They were in chains to be sold. Today, I am sure if anybody brings chain and says he wants to chain people to Canada, people will queue up and take the chain and follow the person to Canada. That must not happen again; we must stop it. It is about your society; help them to stop the abuse. It is about you. Don’t allow us to ruin your future; because the society we are abusing will only take revenge on you.”