Between JAPA and self-assessment

Between JAPA and self-assessment

By Hashim Yussuf Amao
In the spring of 2020, a Nollywood movie producer wanted me to fly to Istanbul, Turkey to work with a top organisation whose social media handles are verified. She maintains a cordial friendship with a don at the organisation, and her words had injected belief in me: the best writer they needed at the time.
She gave assuring words to ease my movement over there. I could feel her genuine and elderly love, but some contradictory thoughts crept in, and they got the best of me for many reasons.
Two months ago, a very dear friend of mine whose mentor (who stays in the UK) needed two capable youths to travel to the UK and work with an NGO over there, and he wanted me to go to the UK with him.
He tried his best to convince me; he even invited me to his apartment for a detailed discussion, all to get me inclined to a “divine travel” as he would put it. My reply disappointed him, yet my dear friend threw his belief behind my word.
To the one reading this, I have a shallow mind and had let go of opportunities that would have made me, and pumped money into my account. Well, you are right; but you’re also wrong.
Away from personal reasons that I won’t state here, the concept of ‘JAPA’ does not exist in my life manual. If it does, sincerely, I would have bid Nigeria an emotional goodbye, even prior to 2020.
JAPA is a new colloquial word recently coined to refer to many Nigerian families migrating to foreign countries to escape the seemingly harsh economic condition in Nigeria.
Running to foreign a country does not interest some of us. And it’s no joke. Even when to some people over there, degrees are better obtained outside than in Nigeria. Some of us seek to bag our degrees here, set up our businesses here, enjoy the Nigerian frills and freedoms, break even and make records here, while also contributing meaningful quota to our land, in our land.
These are the ‘whys’ we constantly ask ourselves if we’re one of the reasons Nigeria is getting better or worse. These are the “whys’ we have not and will never collect a Kobo from any politician – even when we’ve been approached by some of them – including two governorship aspirants.
For, we want anything that we say or write to be from our hearts and not our stomachs. We do not want to betray our conscience, so we can praise the ones who do good among them and criticise the ones who do bad – since there are no grudges attached or political points to score.
We only seek a good Nigeria which we and the coming generations will be proud of. “We are not mad people who will see a good thing and say it’s bad, we are also not sycophants who will see a bad thing and say it’s good”, as former Afenifere leader, late Chief Yinka Odumakin would say. May God grant solace to his bereaved.
Oftentimes, our leaders are not the problems we envisage. Only if we carefully open Nigeria’s pandora box, we would find our individual wickedness, selfishness and greed lying low in it. But is the best solution for the millions of JAPA?
Watch how foreign countries like UAE and the UK among others are slamming their doors against Nigerians. Oftentimes, it’s because of the atrocities Nigerians perpetrate at those countries – drug trafficking, stealing, cult wars and all – which they also engage in here but would be quick to drop all blame at the government’s doorstep, once their bad actions boomerang.
This rather justifies the unpatriotic but true saying from an anonymous person: “Take all Nigerians from Nigeria and watch Nigeria becomes Canada. Put all Nigerians in Canada and watch Canada become Nigeria”. Another fun way to say, “you can only take Alli out of the village, you can’t take the village out of Alli”.
Until we all make a self-assessment of ourselves, until we stop inflicting hardships on ourselves, until the powerful people among us stop oppressing the powerless ones, until we stop collecting peanuts from politicians in exchange for votes, until we all believe the change we want truly begins with us, maybe until then, we can all recline on our couches and smile at the Nigeria of our dreams.
Turning blind eyes to all these but running abroad may truly better the individual lives of the few of us, but it would never deliver the Nigeria of our dreams and would rather continue to batter our image on the global scene.
Enclosing this, I opine that ‘Japa’ would never be the solution to Nigeria’s problems. If it is in your opinion, my best wishes are with you.
Hashim Yussuf Amao writes from Ibadan
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