You’ve likely heard the word JAPA.
It is a Yoruba word which means to leave or run. It was the name of Naira Marley’s 2018 smash single – Japa. In the music video, Naira Marley was seen being given a hot chase by police officers; unlike Naira Marley, thousands of Nigerians are being chased by harsh economic realities and insecurity. Japa has now become a popular slang for relocation and migration.
As the number of Nigerians who depart the country rises astronomically, concerns of people who exit the Nigerian shores – doctors, IT enthusiasts, educators, and many more – adversely affect our country’s national development prospects. The future is bleak.
A sector which has been affected the most by the recent Japa wave in Nigeria is the health sector. The United Kingdom Immigration report found that Nigeria is second only to Indians in the number of visas granted to skilled workers in the health and care sector, taking 14 per cent of the total (13,609). In late August 2022, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors lamented the increasing rate of brain drain in the sector, which it said led to the closure of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, as a consequence of the immense workforce shortage in the centre.
The signs of the impending mass migration of Nigerian doctors have always been there. In 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted a recruitment exercise in Lagos to woo Nigerian doctors. Rather than address the crux of the matter – why are Nigerian medical doctors eager to leave the country? Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment of Nigeria, insisted that migrating doctors will not be missed as there are enough doctors to be recruited.
“Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out.” Chris Ngige said
What the honourable minister had missed out on was the time needed to train new doctors to take the stethoscope from leaving doctors. With the number of doctors getting dire, the Nigerian government needs to rise to the occasion and stem the tide of migration.
Nigeria Must Stem the Tide of Brain Drain.
To stem the tide of brain drain, the Nigerian government should introduce policies that will increase the prospects of medical doctors and other crucial professionals in the country. Poor opportunities and bad economic policies are one of the primary reasons why people are jumping the Nigerian ship to other countries.
To fully understand the issue of brain drain in the country, the government must sponsor studies and research on the phenomenon, as this will prevent the government from shooting square pegs into round holes.
Bottom line: The migration of skilled professionals, particularly medical practitioners, is inimical to the country’s economic prosperity and social development. The government must rise to its duties.