After President Buhari’s speech last two weeks, the ranking hashtags on the twitter trend table in Nigeria went…
5. #Japa (A Yoruba term for “run away”)
The nationwide #EndSars protests came to a forceful halt after the killing of at least 78 youths at the Lekki toll gate on the evening of 20th October, by the Nigerian military. The world went agog with massive condemnation of the act. With many calling for investigations and to bring justice upon anyone involved.
While most Nigerians counted their losses—of lives, properties, businesses or source of livelihood—others readied themselves for the big escape. Leaving the country has never looked attractive as it is now. In fact, reports had it that some people left for neighbouring countries on the night of the President’s aloof speech.
While it is okay to relocate, the vast majority of runaway Nigerians will be doing so based on emotions. And as it is with most emotional decisions, the reality sets in fast. Therefore, before you relocate take time to ask these five questions.
1. Know What You’re Running Away From
Ask the average runaway Nigerian why they are relocating and 8 out of 10 will say “I’m tired of this country. I want a better life.”
Author of the bestselling novel The Book Thief, Markus Zusak said, “The impoverished always try to keep moving, as if relocating might help. They ignore the reality that a new version of the same old problem will still be waiting for them at the end of the trip—The relative you cringe to kiss.”
Except for a few, majority of those crying “Canada here I come!” will suffer poverty and hardship abroad for the same reasons they couldn’t escape poverty back home.
True, well-run countries offer better opportunities for survival and prosperity. At least when all else fails, the government’s social support can still keep you going. But the laws of prosperity and poverty are pretty much the same globally.
So, before you save up and take off, ensure you have developed the right skill set, work ethic, attitude and systems to prosper in your new country. If you move to a new country with the same mindset, you will end up with the same results; good or bad.
2. How long Can you Survive Before Finding a Reasonable Job?
Most people who are in a hurry to relocate fall for the trap of leaving with just enough to make the trip and that’s it. They fail to factor in the realities of a first-world standard of living. Perhaps the first shocker must Nigerians will realise is how fast your millions can shrink into peanuts once you cross over.
Yes, purchasing power is still a thing. Your millions may seem sufficient from your third-world lenses but trust me, once you step out of that plane, 10% of all your savings might go for the cab ride from the Airport to your new place. In a matter of weeks, you may start depending on handouts from family and friends. You don’t want that!
Your family and friends may promise to take care of you before you find employment. That’s kind of them. But never make the mistake of taking their word for it. Stash enough to keep you from being a liability to anyone.
My advice? Do your research and save enough fund to keep you going for at least 5 months while you find your footing in the new labour market.
3. What Jobs Are Available in Your Field?
At this point, I’m assuming you know that you need a tradeable skill before leaving the country. But skills are not enough. Find out how much that skill can earn you versus the standard of living in your new country.
If the job prospects for your skill seems bleak, you might consider opting for a country where your skill in high demand.
Again, ask yourself, what can I do to survive before finding my dream job? If babysitting, bartending or janitoring seems “below you,” you may have to factor that in too.
4. Are You Prepared for the Culture Shock?
Let’s face it, you’re human!
Relocating seems like the best option now, but for a while, you will feel the sharp fingers of culture shock scrubbing down your back.
Suddenly, the food and drinks you’re used to won’t be there. As a Nigerian, it sometimes takes a fortune to keep enjoying your local dishes in a foreign land. The African restaurants over there were built to exploit your taste for the familiar.
Also, how easily can you bring a family member over for a visit? Is it a few hours’ flight or a two-day trip even with flight?
5. How Does the Government Operate in Your New Country?
The last thing you want to do is complain about your home government and still do the same for the new government when you relocate. Do your background checks.
Are you comfortable with laws that restrict you from wearing a certain dress? Or are you better suited for a liberal society?
Ask these questions before you run away.
The quality of leadership a country gets either makes it a breeding ground for innovation or a graveyard of dreams.
In all honesty, the Nigerian system has little to offer the ambitious youth seeking to pursue his dreams to the fullest. Those who have chosen to stay—and have prospered nonetheless—have found a way to recreate their reality.
Perhaps you don’t have plans or the wherewithal to relocate, what are you doing to rise above the limitations of your local system?
In the end, greener pastures reside in you. It is what you make of the unique skills, abilities, network and knowledge that you have. Before you look too far, never forget to look inwards too. What’s taking you to Sokoto might just be in your Shokoto after all.