In stark contrast to the increasing number of Nigerians pursuing opportunities abroad, a wave of foreign entrepreneurs is choosing Nigeria as their business destination, finding promise amid the country’s economic challenges.
According to a report by dailytrust.com, a visit to the departure hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos was a beehive of activities with thousands of Nigerians leaving the country. From findings, majority of them were going with a one-way ticket, which means that they have no intention of coming back soon, if at all they would return.
This is the reality of the moment as the japa syndrome that has hit the country’s fabric has continued unabated, with thousands of Nigerians leaving the country on a daily basis in search of what is usually known as the greener pastures in Europe, America and other countries, where they believe there are opportunities.
The founder of a medical facility in Lagos recently complained how he lost virtually all his personnel (doctors and nurses) to the Japa syndrome, leaving him virtually stranded and unable to cope with the number of patients trooping to his clinic. This is the case in other sectors as citizens flee the country while the country’s human resource is badly depleted.
In the first half of 2023, the United Kingdom, which is unarguably the first country of destination by many Nigerians, especially those going for further studies with their dependents, said it issued some 132,000 visas to Nigerians.
According to Jonny Baxter, British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, “In the first half of the year we granted approximately 132,000 visas, which include visit, work and study.
“In the previous full year before that, we issued about 324,000. In that year, the United Kingdom issued about three million visas, and of the number, 324,000 were issued to Nigerians, which is about 10 per cent.”
Apart from the United Kingdom, those going on irregular migration through the Sahara desert are also in thousands despite the risk involved as shown in the figure of evacuation. In the first half of 2023, no fewer than 4,000 Nigerians were stranded in different countries, especially the Middle East and were evacuated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in different exercises.
The IOM, through its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme, also repatriated over 3,000 Nigerians from Libya alone in 2023, with majority of the returnees languishing in Libyan detention camps before the help of the IOM came. They were arrested after failed attempts to cross to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
While this migration, whether regularly or irregularly, otherwise known as Japa, has continued, some foreigners are not seeing an entirely hopeless situation in Nigeria as many of them also troop to the country on a daily basis for businesses.