Beyond Migrating (Japa), Taking responsibility as Nigerians.

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This is not the first time Nigerians are leaving Nigeria, However, the numbers seem to be growing at an unprecedented rate. The stark fact is that people are frustrated and have been denied basic infrastructure and life amenities. These idealistic, smart, hardworking young people have been left with almost no other option than to find their way somewhere else to have a better life, neglecting the question of whether that will solve our problems? Or make the future of our nation any better? I suppose not. Rather, this mass exodus of talented individuals will only make matters worse.

To say the least, these young people gushing out of the country could have been working in different productive areas of the economy and contributing their own quota to the nation’s development if an enabling environment was created. This trend is perhaps shifting the paradigm from just the normal migration we all know towards what is known as ‘brain drain’. Notice my careful use of words there – using “perhaps.” That’s because I do not have empirical evidence to completely back that statement, but the brain drain is unquestionably happening. An obvious example is the country’s medical sector: a lot of our doctors have left the country, laying bare the foundation of our healthcare and plunging us into a medical quagmire.

On the flip side, we should all be ashamed of ourselves. My reader should not be enraged when I say ‘we’; it is indeed ‘we’ because we are all part of our country’s problems – that might be an article for another time. After electing our leaders based on various sentiments, harboring nepotism practiced by our leaders, encouraging corruption, deepening the divisions among us, supporting the insidious shenanigans of our principals, and pushing the country to the brink, we are finally facing the consequences. 

The ‘keg of gunpowder’ we’ve been sitting on is now beginning to explode. So, we packed our bags and left the country for a better life. We fled to countries that built their own societies on a united front, countries that sacrificed in the past so that their future generations (now today) can enjoy the dividends of good governance. We go to these countries to enjoy what they have built.

A quick dive into England’s history shows that In the 12th and 13th centuries, England was under an ‘extractive’ political institution known as the monarchy system. The people kept challenging the absolute power of their kings to achieve a fairer redistribution of wealth. In 1215, the barons, who were a layer of the elite beneath the king, stood up to the king and made him sign the ‘Magna Carta’ (“The Great Charter”). The document challenged some of the king’s authorities, especially in the area of raising taxes, establishing that the King must consult the barons before raising taxes. The power of the monarchy was further constrained when the first parliament was elected in 1265. The power struggle continued between the monarchy and the people represented through parliament, leading to the 1642 civil war between King Charles I and the parliament. This struggle continued with subsequent kings, culminating in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1840, and eventually weakening the power of the monarchy and ending the ‘extractive institutions’. The people persisted in their struggle until they transformed their country. Today, we run to this England to seek the best education, to live and work.

Let’s also consider France. France had a similar ‘absolutist regime’ under the monarchy. Prior to the French Revolution of 1789, French society was divided into three segments called the Estates. The first echelon was the Aristocrats (the nobility with more rights), the second was Clergy (with more rights than the third and exempt from taxes), and everyone else fell into the Third Estate. The people endured and struggled until they had the French Revolution in 1789, which abolished this Estate system among others. Another revolution took place in 1830 against Charles X, who attempted to restore the absolutism destroyed by the earlier revolution. The struggle persisted until they became the developed nation they are today. Singaporeans didn’t flee their country after separating from Malaysia; they made sacrifices and persisted in the struggle until they transformed their country into a first-world nation, now competing with the likes of Norway and Finland in terms of GDP per capita. The Dubai we now fly to for holidays was nothing but a desert sixty to seventy years ago. The kingdom was developed by its people.

It’s never a bad thing to leave Nigeria to work, live, and explore the world. However, my emphasis is on the fact that we cannot all leave the country due to the bad governance we are part of. I am saying that we need to be more conscious as ‘Japa(ing)’ won’t solve our problems back home. If you ‘Japa,’ can you take your entire generation with you? After all, there is no place like home, and there is no place where you would be fully accepted except in your own country. The synopsis of my write-up is that we have to take responsibility for Nigeria. Even if you happen to work or live abroad today, you should try to contribute to Nigeria’s development in one way or another. We are a nation of about 211 million (according to the World Bank, 2021) and still growing. If the country fails, where do we all expect to flee to?


Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2013). Why Nations Fail. The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. London: Profile Books Ltd.

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