2022 Jaoa Wave - Nigerians migration

The 2022 Japa Wave – Why are Nigerian Youths Migrating?

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This year saw a massive exodus of Nigerian citizens, especially the youths.

There are statistics to prove that this year recorded the most significant number of emigration, only second to the one seen during the Second World War. Why did Nigeria experience a severe exodus (what I call a Japa wave)? This article will reveal this, and more.

The recent wave of Nigerians relocating out of the country embodies the most significant movement of people since the end of the Nigerian civil war over fifty years ago. The emigration stats keeps growing!

Olu, a Nigerian from twitter

The significant thing about these migrating Nigerians is their demographic or profile. Many Nigerians relocating comprise primarily skilled youth, including doctors, nurses, IT engineers, university lecturers, technicians, and tech-inclined enthusiasts. Some have been educated in the best universities abroad and the country. They also include young people who completed their studies abroad and opted to stay back because our country has nothing to offer them concerning jobs, opportunities, or basic safety.

I could not agree less with Hannah!

This prospect leaves little hope for national development or the country’s future.

What is the Meaning of Japa

Japa is an informal Yoruba street term that means ‘to flee’, or ‘to escape’.

Many Nigerian youths have decided to seek and carve out a better living for themselves and are taking actions to ensure this became a reality. 

Although it may seem like the decision to relocate was sudden, I would say it has been brewing for a while.

Not many decisions are made in a split second; certain factors, circumstances, or triggers always inform a decision. This is the case of several Nigerians that decided 2022 is the year to Japa.

“Japa” is a Yoruba street term, meaning to run, escape, or flee. It originated to express the Nigerian youth’s deep desire or aspiration to search for more nurturing and less hostile environments to grow. The general consensus is that the grass is greener when it isn’t in Nigeria.

It is important to note that this year, a feverish, anxious, and nerve-wracking feeling has been permeating the air regarding migrating. Most youth that Japa usually do not plan to return to Nigeria. They buy a one-way ticket out of a country riddled with economic hardship and insecurity. It was almost like if you did not leave now, you could not leave again. The result was the massive exodus we witnessed and are still witnessing today.

Popular social media channels like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter also contributed their quota as there are channels dedicated to simplifying the migration process. These channels are run by Nigerians who have settled in other countries and want to teach other Nigerians about the relocation process.

There are even Youtube channels dedicated to providing tips and tricks, helpful nuggets, and most of the preliminary research needed to get started on your Japa journey.


Although migration is an important part of every human’s experience during their existence, this wave was informed by certain key factors, which include the following:

  1. Bad governance and poor economic structure
  2. Insecurity
  3. Limited Opportunities in Nigeria

Bad Governance and Poor Economic Structure

Many youths that left the country within the year decided to do so after the horrific event that took place on the 20th of October, 2020. They waited patiently, biding their time for the COVID travel restrictions to be eased. That incident proved to many people that the government never had her citizen’s interests in mind.

The question on most people’s lips was, “Why did they have to wait for a riot to ban a police unit that was terrorizing the populace before doing anything?” Even after the incident, the government did not take responsibility.

Additionally, many policies and actions by the current government, including the ban on trading cryptocurrency, forex, and Twitter, have proven to the youth that the government has misplaced priorities and little to no interest in economic growth and well-being.

Poor infrastructure, bad governance, and corruption work in tandem. Nigeria barely has the right infrastructure to ensure that things move smoothly. This problem permeates almost all sectors, especially the health, agricultural, and education sectors, as funds are provided. Still, they are pilfered, and no one is brought to book for the crime. Moving out of the country seems like the best fix for this.

Finally, there has been a gradual upsurge in prices of commodities and falling of the Naira. These things were part of the large straw that broke the camel’s back. Earning in Naira is almost a waste of effort. Rather than suffering from this, people prefer to move to countries with better economic structures and where the government policies do not limit or strangle creativity or enforce silence.

Insecurity in Nigeria

Insecurity in Nigeria has been a tumor growing unchecked for a long while. This spate of insecurity began in 2010 and has long since become a thorn in our flesh. You hear statements like “Our government does not value human life” or “Things like this no suppose to happen.” You also hear things like “Resources meant to fight the bandits are used for irrelevant things” and “I would be better off going where I will be treated well and cared for, rather than dying here.”

endsars, insecurity in Nigeria

Banditry, kidnapping, terrorist attacks, and the fear of these attacks have Nigerians in a chokehold. Most people believe nowhere in the country is safe and would rather be abroad than here.

Limited Opportunities in Nigeria

Nigeria is relatively backward for a country this vast and diverse. The world has gone global and has advanced in technology and creative innovations. I sincerely wish the same could be said for our dear country, Nigeria. Sometimes it feels light-years behind.

Linited opportunities in Nigeria

There are barely any opportunities to grow, and in tech and creativity, there are a lot of blockers and restrictions in the form of government policy. No one wants to stay in a space or an environment that is not ready or equipped to help them grow when they are ready to do so.

This factor makes people look to go abroad to scale up.

Why Many Nigerians Japa

Although key factors influence the decision to Japa, every individual has a succinct reason for moving abroad. These reasons sometimes overlap with the factors that influence the move, but to be honest, if some of the factors were mitigated, many people would still want to Japa. Some reasons include the following:

  1. Wanderlust
  2. Education 
  3. Better Work Opportunities


This term refers to an individual’s strong desire to travel. In this situation, many youths are discontent with living and traveling within the country because of the insecurity issues, so they strongly desire to travel and explore all other countries. So when an opportunity to travel arises, they seize it.

Education Opportunities

Another set of people that Japa is the set of people looking for a better standard of education.

Most people in this group include secondary school graduates who want to avoid being in University for years on end and University graduates that would prefer to do their Masters’s abroad to avoid unnecessary delays and stress triggered by these delays. This group searches for scholarships or sponsors. When this group of people leaves, they hardly ever want to return.

Better Work Opportunities

It is no secret that there are a wide variety of work opportunities and better remuneration abroad than in Nigeria. Since the pandemic that spread in 2020 and affected most of 2021, the work scene has evolved. Work is now fully remote or hybrid.

There are now global remote work opportunities that pay more, but many people prefer to migrate as they believe there is more room for growth and the money earned will be worth it.

Summary: How Is Nigeria Affected By The Japa Rate?

It is a fact that there are consequences for every action. This means that since there are factors and valid reasons for the Japa wave, there are also deep consequences for the individual and Nigeria as a whole.

Within the last two years, Nigeria has lost a lot of certified and well-trained medical professionals to other countries, including the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In Kaduna, there are only 112 doctors on the government payroll, which has worsened the already declining state of the healthcare sector. It has also increased the doctor-to-patient ratio in the country.

In addition to the migration of skilled professionals in other sectors, there is a gradual decline as there needs to be fresh input from young and practical minds. A couple of these sectors were already in rot and may deteriorate further.

The migration of the youth does not bode well for the country’s future and national development potential. It also does not help that the current leadership has made life difficult for many youths through sanctions, bans, and unfair policies.


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