Nigerians are doing everything to escape the actions of a failing government which has produced the japa trend taking the country by storm. Migration is nothing new, and humans have always been on the move.
However, we’re seeing people quitting their well-paying jobs, their education, and even their families, hoping a better life awaits them anywhere but here.
This belief has driven even people who can’t afford to leave legally towards irregular means of migration. And while we can’t discourage anyone from seeking greener pastures, we can safely tell you some ways to not japa.
Don’t be a stowaway
A stowaway is someone who hides in a ship or plane to travel without paying. On November 29, 2022, three Nigerian men were found in the rudder of a ship when it arrived in Spain. The men sat on the ship’s rudder as it made its 11-day voyage from Nigeria to Spain, with their feet just a few centimetres from the water. By the time they were found, they already had symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and had to be taken to a hospital.
They were fortunate to still be alive, but this isn’t the first time this has happened. On September 4, 2022, a 14-year-old boy was found unconscious, passed out from the drugs he took, in the wheel of a packed aircraft. The boy said he hoped to be anywhere but Nigeria. Stowaways like him face numerous health risks: hypothermia, frostbite, tinnitus and, more often than not, death.
Don’t cross the desert
Nigerians are hustlers and this can get us into serious trouble sometimes. Many people try to cross the Sahara Desert to get to Libya and make their way to Europe. They’d even sell off their businesses and properties to raise enough money to get to Agadez, Niger, where they pay an additional fee of about $500 to cross the desert. Unfortunately, not many survive this trip due to the brutal weather conditions and those who manage to get to Libya can end up in slave camps.
Don’t cross the ocean on bad boats
Most people in slave camps end up sold to different slave masters, and for people lucky enough to not end up in these camps, they meet so-called connection men who take them to board boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, these boats are very rickety and usually end up capsizing or just stopping in the middle of nowhere.
This leaves the migrants stranded at the mercy of the coast guards who throw them into prison or deportation camps till the International Organization for Migration (IOM) steps in, and this can take a long time.
Don’t swear an oath
Not all Nollywood movies are just fiction; some are based on real-life stories. As you might have seen in the Netflix movie, Òlòturé, most women who have fallen victim to sex trafficking abroad are asked before the beginning of their trip to swear an oath. This prevents them from reporting their traffickers to the police.
These women live in fear of the consequences of breaking this oath even after being freed from the sex traffickers. So, if a family “friend” is promising you a better future overseas under the condition that you see a baba first, run.
Nigerians’ desperate need to japa by any means reflects a failed system. People can hardly picture themselves living better lives while still in the country, and seeing as this might not be sustainable in the long run, it shows how much of our future depends on the coming 2023 general elections.