The latest slang amongst the Nigerian populace is the word “japa”, which is a Yoruba word to represent leaving or running away. That is the term Nigerians most especially the youths are now using to describe leaving the shores of the country for greener pastures abroad.
Education is being seen as the best bet to get visas easily abroad with various countries offering scholarships for master’s and undergraduate programs, some of which come with an option for permanent residency.
Nigerians have now tapped into study visas as a way to “japa” from Nigeria, especially given the continuous social and economic hardships in the country. The state of public education in Nigeria also is not helping matters as university students have had to stay home for almost 5 months due to the strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
A set of mass resignations is expected to hit many companies in the country as academic activities resume in countries like the UK, USA, and Canada. This follows many Nigerian youths applying to study or work in foreign countries amidst the uncertainties surrounding the Nigerian economy and safety.
While this is gulping a huge chunk of FX in the Nigerian reserves, Nigerians continue to press forward with their ambitions to leave the country in search of greener pastures abroad. Recall that Nairametrics reported that Nigerians spent over $28 billion on foreign education in 10 years, indicating an annual average of $2.8 billion – a huge capital flight.
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In a conversation with Abiodun Oyewole, a tech analyst in a media firm in Nigeria, he stated that he has dropped his resignation letter and is set to travel by the end of the month, having gotten a partially funded scholarship abroad.
“I have always desired to travel abroad for a long time, and I worked towards it by writing various examinations to ensure that I qualify for this application. The reason why I had wanted to leave the country is not far-fetched, considering the state of the Nigerian economy, school strikes, unemployment, insecurity of lives, as well as lack of job security,” he said.
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“Since I do not have a family abroad that can help the process by residency, education seems like the safest legal way for me, which I have done, and thankfully I got in,” he added.
In another discussion with Daniel Azumara, a tech expert and product designer, he had this to say:
“I am a sole believer and crusader in the truth that ‘Education is the fastest way to escape poverty.’ Since my first degree in 2017, I have been trying to get into a postgraduate program abroad specifically to get international education and exposure, another higher level of truth to that claim is to also leave the country (japa) using the education route.
“I look forward to studying in a country where safety is important and upheld, where education is solving everyday problems and has a global reach, where one doesn’t have to necessarily know somebody in the upper echelon before getting a good job rather skill and efficiency is the only metric.”
“Nigeria is one country that celebrates mediocrity and nepotism – nothing worth revelling over, happens in such a space – nepotism doesn’t celebrate excellence, it is a dream killer,” he exclaimed.
Similarly, Tobi Oluwafemi, who just concluded his one-year mandatory National Youth Service Programme, insisted he is going for a post-graduate programme in Artificial Intelligence abroad. When asked why he didn’t choose his country of residence, he said that the UK is a centre for world-class degrees and AI is not yet an accredited course here in Nigeria. He said the Nigerian education system is becoming poor, especially with the lingering strike actions by the ASUU.
It is worth noting that, while some people are travelling for the sake of education, some others are actually leaving due to employment offers and the opportunity to relocate their families abroad. We also observed that not only average Nigerians are looking to relocate but well-to-do individuals have either relocated or are about to move.
Popular skit-maker and comedian, Woli Arole, posted on his social media handles that he relocated to the United Kingdom and is currently working. Popular Nigerian movie producer and comedian, William Uchemba has also posted several videos of himself residing in the UK as well as some other entertainers in the country.
Nairametrics quizzed some other potential travellers on the nature of their relocation.
Mr Damian Nwosu, a Tech Analyst in one of Nigeria’s new generational banks is on his way to relocate his family to Canada where he got a job offer as an analyst. He stated that the present condition of the Nigerian economy and environment is not friendly and seems to be getting worse.
“The condition in Nigeria is going nowhere, as far as our political ecosystem remains the same and the continuous insecurity ravaging the country is not getting any better. I am happy at least, my children will have basic education there in Canada, which is a better environment,” he said.
Also, Jennifer Onyebuchi, a medical practitioner, who is on her way to the United Kingdom to accept a job offer at a new specialist centre, stated that one reason she accepted the offer was because she sees herself advancing in her medical field and going to a place her profession is valued compared to Nigeria. “Medical practitioners in the UK are well paid compared to those in Nigeria,” she said.
Hence, the formula adopted by most Nigerian youth through the education route is: choose a country, choose a course, get admission from school, apply for a visa, show proof of funds, get visa, resign from work = Japa.