japa syndrome

escape from bad government through japa syndrome


If you haven’t heard of the ‘Japa syndrome,’ you must be familiar with the challenges of governance. ‘Japa’ symbolizes the flight to a better destination, seeking liberation from shackles that hold back progress. In Nigeria’s context, it can be likened to a flock of young birds soaring away from the clutches of ferocious predators, representing a government that stifles dreams and drains the lifeblood of innocent citizens. The state of the nation has crumbled to uncertainty, where a million dreams suffocate or a stream of hope rises. The uncertainty crawls among the masses, wondering who will fall victim next. Thus, the call to embrace the ‘Japa syndrome’ as a way to escape the grip of a challenging government.


Nigeria faces a tempest of challenges, including inflation’s stormy waves, the currency’s turbulent devaluation, and the thunderous corruption that echoes across the nation. These storms shackle the growth of businesses, leading to a shipwreck of dreams and deteriorating standards of living. The cost of survival weighs heavily on the necks of citizens. It’s akin to navigating treacherous waters, making it seem like a near-impossible journey for the nation to retain its finest minds amidst the allure of distant and promising lands.


Nigeria has attempted to persuade its patriotic citizens that things will improve, but the clouds of doubt still loom, asking, ‘When will this promise bear fruit?’


Speaking out against these hardships is akin to braving stormy seas, year after year, life seems to be sailing from one tempest to another, especially during the past eight years, which some liken to an era of stagnation. The name ‘Buhari’s government’ has become synonymous with stagnancy.


In times past, before he held power, blood was shed as if dogs and baboons engaged in a savage battle. He was part of a team of greedy politicians who worked to stifle the previously promising government that Nigerians experienced. The quest for power became so intense that, when he finally succeeded, he handed the baton to like-minded individual who said, “It is my turn.” Under their rule, Nigeria’s corruption index soared to unprecedented heights.


The endemic political virus mentioned earlier led to the mass exodus of Nigeria’s talented professionals, like birds seeking warmer skies and greener lands wherever they may be found. Nigeria has found its name etched on the list of the world’s most corrupt nations, with characters representing integrity and selfish ambition taking center stage.


This article aims to delve deeply into the ‘Japa syndrome,’ using a surgeon’s precision to explore its causes and illuminate potential solutions.

The escape from unfavorable governance through the ‘Japa syndrome’ aligns with Isaac Newton’s third law, which states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In Nigeria’s society, this principle holds true, as the government’s actions and inactions, coupled with ill-conceived policies and crass mismanagement, have subjected citizens to distressing living conditions. This has spurred an equal and opposite reaction, prompting a substantial flight of human and capital resources from the country. Professionals, including those in healthcare, education, and finance, feel the weight of the journey and seek solace elsewhere.


Within the last two years,(2021-2023) reports reveal that a significant number of Nigerian nurses and doctors have migrated to foreign shores, seeking solace in distant lands. This exodus poses a grave concern, given the already ailing state of Nigeria’s healthcare sector.

Recently, there has been a remarkable surge in the number of Nigerians obtaining student visas to the United Kingdom. It’s akin to a journey towards a distant horizon, a migration towards new opportunities. This trend of seeking education and prospects abroad could lead to a depletion of valuable human resources within Nigeria’s borders.


The nation’s leaders must chart a course towards an environment that nurtures growth and fosters opportunities within its own territory. Just as a skilled captain guides a ship to safe harbors, Nigeria should employ its resources wisely to create a thriving and prosperous homeland for its citizens. Addressing the challenges that trigger the ‘Japa syndrome’ will set sail on the journey to a brighter future for Nigeria.


When he wasn’t in power, the land witnessed a time of turmoil, as if the dogs and the baboons engaged in a ferocious battle. He was among a team of greedy politicians who went to great lengths to stifle the progress of the previous seemingly fair government that Nigerians once experienced. Their thirst for power knew no bounds, and when he eventually succeeded, he passed the baton to his like-minded comrades, proclaiming, “It is my turn.” As a result of their actions, Nigeria’s corruption index reached unprecedented heights.


The political virus mentioned earlier not only fueled the mass exodus of Nigeria’s highly skilled and talented professionals to distant lands with greener pastures but also led to the country being ranked as the 150th most corrupt nation out of 180 on the list. Regrettably, it also included individuals who were once heralded as embodiments of integrity but have now become synonymous with corruption, earning the titles of “Mr. Integrity” and “Mr. It is my turn” among the world’s most corrupt individuals.


This article aims to conduct a surgical examination of the ‘JAPA syndrome’ (as it is called in local parlance), illuminating its causes, and offering potential solutions.

The escape from the bad government through the ‘JAPA syndrome’ echoes Isaac Newton’s timeless theory: “For every action, there is, as a matter of consequence, an equal and opposite reaction.” This principle holds true in Nigerian society, where citizens have undeservedly endured substandard living standards due to the government’s actions, inactions, and ill-conceived policies. The alarming presence of crass impunity, mismanagement, and misappropriation of government resources compounds the challenges.


A combination of these factors has resulted in a concomitant effect of an unstable and struggling economy, characterized by meager remuneration for workers, particularly critical professionals in sectors like healthcare, education, finance, and all vital areas of the economy. The chasm between workers’ modest earnings and politicians’ excessive gains has triggered a chain reaction, prompting both professionals and non-professionals in all sectors to grow increasingly frustrated.


Within the past two years, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has reported a significant influx of Nigerian nurses, with no fewer than ten thousand relocating and duly registering and licensing to practice in the UK. An even greater number of Nigerian doctors were also reported to have enrolled in the United Kingdom’s health sector.


In the face of this, one cannot help but shudder at the future of the nation’s most critical sector, which saves lives. The Nigerian health workers already face the challenges of a poor, dilapidated, and inadequately staffed system, rendering it grossly inefficient. The latest mid-year register of the United Kingdom’s Nursing and Midwifery Council reveals an alarming trend. Within the 12 months to March 2023, the number of nurses, midwives, and nursing associates joining the register from Nigeria surged by 46.6 percent (10,639) compared to 7,256 in the same period of 2022.


These figures raise deep concerns for any responsible government, particularly when the nation’s health ministry and its associations of nurses and midwives openly express alarm. With just a little above one hundred and twenty-five thousand registered nurses to cater to the health needs of over two hundred million people, Nigeria sits on a keg of dangerous gunpowder, where an explosion is imminent.


Recent reports from various news and media outlets highlight a sharp rise in the number of Nigerians granted student visas by the United Kingdom. The numbers have skyrocketed over eightfold in four years, according to new official immigration data from the United Kingdom’s Nigerian embassy, as reported by Business Day. The figures soared from a mere six thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight in 2019 to fifty-nine thousand, fifty-three visas in 2022, marking a staggering 768.7 percent increase.


This situation may not be overly concerning on its own, but when one considers that an equal or even more significant number of Nigerians seek opportunities in other advanced nations like the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, and many more, it becomes apparent why the words of the esteemed literary icon and late sage, Chinua Achebe, in his last piece, “There Was a Country,” hold weight. The continuous exodus of talent and potential may lead to a country once known as Nigeria facing an uncertain future if this negative and perilous trend persists. The pressing question that demands immediate and soothing answers remains, “Who will bell the cat, and how did the strange water get into the coconut?”


Another significant cause of ‘the escape from bad government through the Japa syndrome’ lies in the widespread discontent, loss of hope, and eroded confidence in the nation’s porous system of governance. The government makes no concerted effort to bridge the gap created by this flight from unfavorable governance, resulting in Nigeria’s brightest minds seeking superior education in the West. Regrettably, the thought of returning to contribute to Nigeria’s development seldom crosses their minds.


A more disheartening development emerged when the same misguided government cartel introduced legislation to pass a bill banning medical doctors from relocating abroad, purportedly to reduce the ‘escape from bad government through Japa syndrome.’ The absurdity of this bill is heightened by its sponsorship by one of the most passive members of the national assembly. One may be tempted to ask, “Does this mean that only rats and tortoises find their way into elective government positions and high offices? Is a population of over two hundred million people devoid of critical-thinking leaders? Or have we become burdened solely with demons and carnivorous predators as leaders?”








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