You probably have stumbled on it on social media or heard people screaming it on the streets. Japa has become a popular slang in Nigeria. From the north to the south, it is the new anthem among Nigerians, particularly the youth.
Japa is a Yoruba word which means ‘to run’ from a seemingly ugly situation.
But the word has assumed a new meaning.
The word is now used to describe the trend of Nigerians relocating abroad in search of greener pastures. The term started garnering momentum in 2021 when the nation was adversely hit by post-COVID-19 economic realities.
It has gained more popularity since then due to Nigeria’s complex challenges. The country is currently plagued with numerous problems ranging from biting inflation to insecurity, political unrest, and bad leadership among others.
These harsh realities have increased the number of citizens relocating to seek greener fields in Canada, Britain, America and other advanced nations.
Statistics revealed that there is an increase in the number of Nigerians departing the country. According to MACROTRENDS, the country’s migration rate in 2022 is at -0.280 per 1000 population which indicates a -2.780% growth rate.
Japa, to many, is the only way to escape the hardship in the country.
But should this be the case?
CRISPNG Parliament sampled the opinions of a few Nigerians on the matter. Here’s what they have to say below:
Victor Agi — public affairs analyst
“When people travel out for greener pastures, there is nothing wrong about it economically. I stumbled upon data which said that the Nigerian Diaspora population remitted about 65.34 billion US dollars between 2018- 2020. Also, we have heard that most educated immigrants are Nigerians- that is a plus for us.
There are benefits of emigrating. If we have people sending us dollars as much as I said earlier; that would be contributing to our GDP. I agree that people are leaving the country due to bad governance and poor economy but we must also look on the flip side- the economic benefits”.
Okeke Chibueze – social commentator
I am not a proponent of leaving Nigeria because I have never really believed that I can have a better life outside the shores of Nigeria. My belief is not disputing that the Nigerian government is making life hard for us and not meeting our expectations.
My reason for being against emigrating from Nigeria is because running abroad has its limitations like the number of jobs to take, the amount of money that flows into your account is on check every day and as a businessman; the freedom to do business in Nigeria cannot be replicated elsewhere. There are some leverages I can back on if I do business here than in the US. Imagine if I use the N5 or N10 million it would cost me to relocate abroad and invest in a business.
Let us begin to take advantage of the environment we find ourselves in, let’s think of solutions and make life easier for ourselves than rely on the government. Let the youths begin to try out entrepreneurial skills earlier even before graduation as certificates are no longer a ticket to wealth creation. I have had opportunities to travel out but I know what I want to build in Nigeria.
Jabir Ridwan — Journalist
For me, I can even be part of the team that would sensitize the youths they should leave the country. if any youths see the opportunity to abscond the country, please use it! When we look at our colleagues who have left, they are improving and developing themselves. I see japa as an opportunity. Nigeria would never be developed the way we aspire. The leaders would never allow the youths to rule the nation. There is no peace of mind in Nigeria not to mention developmental projects. For instance, the ASUU strike shows that the education sector is heading nowhere. Youths that are supposed to have graduated in 2020 are still in school and we are less than 6 months into 2023.
The education in Nigeria would never be reviewed to match the quality of education in advanced countries. When somebody relocates it is a means of seeking a peaceful life, creating a new life, developing skills and having a secure a better livelihood for future generation”.
Ejikeme Eze , On-air-personality
I support anybody that wants to japa so long as they are going somewhere better than Nigeria. Nigeria does not help anyone, large and small enterprises are dying every day. The country is going backwards Dana Air has closed operations in Nigeria as well as the international Emirates Air.
I fear that very soon, we might even use a canoe to travel! My plea is for anyone relocating to Japa to a reasonable country with adequate plans on how to live a comfortable life in that country. Do not migrate and then become worse or immerse yourself in penury. Personally, if I am relocating it has to be if I secure a well-paid job or a scholarship.
Sunday Elom — Journalist
The political system of every country controls the policies of other sectors and as long as Nigeria continues to have a shaky political situation, the country remains unsustainable. This is because Nigeria needs policies that would encourage economic development and others but the Nigerian government is against that.
The policies they make frustrate everyone. For instance look at cryptocurrency which is gold in other climes, it is termed illegal in Nigeria. They are not policies to encourage exports but many to encourage importation.
There is no electricity to boost manufacturing, two million naira cannot kick off a small-scale business; even 200,000 Naira cannot fetch one reasonable commodity in the market. Please my fellow Nigerian youths travel if you find the means and go with a good reason and not tarnish the image of other Nigerians because more and more still yearn to relocate.
For me, if I can’t bear the heat any more here, I would make use of my ECOWAS travel rights and explore other African countries and ultimately japa to abroad. The thought of my children growing up in Nigeria frightens me.
By Genevieve Aningo