A member of the House of Representatives in Nigeria has recently proposed a bill to the federal government to address the underlying factors that drive young Nigerian professionals en masse to study or seek better opportunities abroad.
Philip Agbese introduced the bill titled The Need to Declare Emigration of Young Nigerians Abroad a.k.a ‘Japa’ Syndrome a National Emergency in a bid to tackle brain drain and the loss of manpower.
Agbese argued that Nigeria risks falling into “great crisis”, especially in critical sectors from education to health care if skilled people keep leaving the country.
The proposed bill was, however, met with resistance from some members of the House, who voted unanimously to reject the proposal and decided not to declare a state of emergency on the matter.
Speaking against the motion, representative Sada Soli from Katina estate said that the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, respects freedom of movement and that Nigerians have the right of movement anywhere they want.
“In my opinion, having a bill aimed at controlling the Japa syndrome especially within the medical profession is appropriate for these medical experts to handle such matters, as the bill deals with migration in a context that is distinct from applications for international study programs,” Olukayode Shiroye of AHZ International Education consulting said.
Avail International Consult Limited CEO, Bola Agunbiade, said that the government needs to put programs in place for individuals to contribute back to the society even if not physically present in the country.
“There are many factors that would make one seek an alternate location and that includes quest for career advancement, professional satisfaction, etc,” Agunbiade said.
“Individual may have the requisite knowledge, however, if the context of development and relevance in this clime is sub-par relative to the obtainable in other developed country, the drive to relocate for global relevance will remain un-satiated.”
“There are many factors that would make one seek an alternate location”
Agunbiade also pointed to the right to move to regions where “opportunities can be maximised” and “competencies fully explored and expressed”.
“We can’t say people should be signing a bond or compelling them to return, there should be a program, may be a national program that gives pathway for people to contribute back to Nigeria in technology, innovations,” Agunbiade added.
“Re-investment to the country may not mean that they will be coming back physically, they might be there and still be impacting the requisite knowledge, so that the country can be better for it, and we can export technology and enhance the nation’s revenue profile. Looking at our population, we have not even ‘japa’ enough.”
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