In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a surge in a phenomenon colloquially known as “Japa Syndrome.” The term “Japa” derives from Nigerian slang, meaning to escape or flee, often to seek a perceived better life abroad. While migration is a natural part of human history, the scale and implications of this modern exodus are worth examining. This article delves into the far-reaching effects of the Japa Syndrome on work and family situations in Nigeria.
When a considerable lot of the residents need to leave the country, what might this mean coherently?
Considering the endeavours of fellow Nigerian who daily exit their country’s border in large numbers, it would take a great deal of patriotism not to succumb to the temptation of following suit, with the hope of a better life, once the opportunity presents itself. In the relatively recent past, the Nigerian Monetary Highest Point Gathering projected the joblessness rate in Nigeria to increase to 37 percent in 2023 while the United Kingdom is offering a decent yearly compensation to Nigerians able to relocate there and work as educators. The immediate consequence is the significant depletion of skilled and semi-skilled labour from various sectors in Nigeria. Industries in healthcare, engineering, information technology, and education are the hardest hit, with the mass exodus of some of the best skilled professionals. Such critical industries have been left to grapple with personnel shortages, hindering progress and development in the quantity and quality of productivity, due to the brain drain impacts.
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The prevalence of the Japa Syndrome fosters an “exodus mentality” among Nigerian youths, whose newfound cherished value is finding greener pastures in the global north. Many grow up with dreams of escaping the perceived limitations of their homeland, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. This mentality often leads to a lack of commitment to local projects, as young talents view them as stepping stones rather than long-term investments.
As individuals depart due to the Japa Syndrome this may have a profound impact on family dynamics. The emotional toll on parents, siblings, and extended family members can be immense. Additionally, families are faced with the challenge of adapting to changes in roles and responsibilities, especially when a primary breadwinner leaves. This can lead to increased stress and strained relationships within the family unit and could also impact mental health significantly due to adjustment and adaptation challenges like loneliness, anxiety and depression. Additionally, there is a rise in empty-nest especially with older parents having to now leave alone with their children in faraway foreign lands. This has reduced the social support and daily interaction for parents and further isolates the already ‘isolated nuclear family’.
While those who have “Japa” may find improved economic opportunities abroad, the financial support they send back home can sometimes foster a culture of dependency. Families left behind may come to rely heavily on remittances, potentially discouraging local economic initiatives and entrepreneurship. This can create a cycle of economic stagnation in communities heavily affected by the “Japa” Syndrome.
The social and cultural impacts of Japa Syndrome has also brought about shifts in societal norms and values, example is a spouse leaving for foreign opportunities which can strain their relationship due to distance, cultural adjustments, and diverging life paths, leading to divorce or marital breakdown due to communication challenges, emotional distance and unmet expectations. Traditional family structures may be strained, with an increasing number of households headed by single parents or extended family members. Additionally, the loss of skilled professionals can hinder the transmission of cultural practices and indigenous knowledge, potentially eroding the rich tapestry of Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
Addressing the Japa Syndrome
At this moment, I don’t believe that the Nigerian government has acknowledged how the Japa issue can seriously affect the country. What befalls the nature of strength of the residents? Who and what are supplanting the administrations of medical attendants and specialists who left the country? Many great hands are neglecting the Nigerian dream consistently.
To mitigate the impact of the Japa Syndrome, concerted efforts are required at various levels. Government policies should focus on creating an enabling environment that encourages investment, innovation, and job creation. Additionally, there is a need for targeted programs to retain and attract skilled professionals. Providing opportunities for skill development and career advancement can help stem the tide of emigration.
In conclusion, the Japa Syndrome is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that has far-reaching consequences on work environments and family relationships in Nigeria. As the nation grapples with this modern exodus, it is imperative to implement comprehensive strategies that address the root causes and provide viable alternatives for the Nigerian youth. By fostering an environment of opportunity and growth, Nigeria can not only retain its valuable talent but also pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for all its citizens.
Michael Fasina is a Research Associate at the Institute for Work and Family Integration, Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached on [email protected] or via phone +2347038097730