What’s this “Japa Syndrome”? Is it some kind of illness?

Well, it depends on how you see it. If a constant urge to run away from your current life in your home country and start a new one in a foreign country sounds like an illness to you, then that’s what it is. An illness.

That doesn’t sound like an illness, though.

Of course, it isn’t. At least not literally. Besides, this “syndrome” is usually temporary. It ends once you leave Nigeria.

So why is it a syndrome?

Well, I guess it’s because this urge to migrate is popular among Nigerians. The World Bank says 50 per cent of young Nigerians want to leave the country. But I think that number should be even higher. It seems infectious in a way. 

What? That’s a lot of people! Why do they want to leave?

Uhm… I think you should ask why they wouldn’t want to leave because there are too many valid reasons. But I’d just sum it up and say the government has done an excellent job at making the country unliveable for the average Nigerian. So people want to move to countries where things work.

Okay, but what does tech have to do with all this?

It’s not easy to leave Nigeria. If you pursue it on your own, you’ll often need plenty of money, determination, strategy, patience and the support of the elder gods to get a visa. So whenever there’s an opportunity to leave with less hassle, you can be sure people will jump at it.

Nowadays, tech talents are in high demand globally, and Nigeria has many. So companies looking to hire talents come shopping in Nigeria and leave with the best talents they find. Even countries are organising programs to lure tech bros over, such as the Tech Nation Visa.

There’s a pretty recent one that riled up a lot of business owners: Amazon is hosting an event in Lagos to recruit developers and help them Japa.

Amazon posted this ad recently

So you’re telling me that by becoming a tech bro, I increase my chances of Japa-ing

Yes.

Wait. Why does this sound familiar? 

Because it is familiar. It’s just that you’ve been hearing of it with other sectors like medicine. Saudi Arabia held a recruitment exercise for Nigerian doctors willing to emigrate in August last year. Many others have recruited Nigerian doctors. Over 9000 doctors left Nigeria for the U.K in the past two years. The same thing has happened in sports. I’m sure you know about the Bahrain Drain of 2016.

Aha! Well, back to the discussion. It seems people are laughing at Nigerian banks for this brain drain. What’s the deal?

Yes, that. Banks. Well, has your banking app failed you recently?

Yes. A lot

I thought so. Word on the street is that the tech bros behind our banking apps are Japa-ing.

http://twitter.com/AdewaleAdeife2/status/1544589327178555399?s=20&t=LxlRz1WpOAcgX-MEppF8Tg

http://twitter.com/asemota/status/1433691829942243332?s=20&t=uoueGO2dw1s-luCfUn5yHg

Ha! It’s Twitter. They’re probably just joking.

Didn’t you just say your apps are having more downtime than usual? Anyway, please don’t take my word for it. This report by Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega backs up this “joke.” And if that’s not enough, even the banks are admitting it.

Well, well, well. It looks like there’s a real problem on our hands

I see you’re catching up. Welcome to 2022. Now you see that there’s a real talent war going on here.

But can Nigerian banks win this war?

Abeg, don’t make me spill my juice. 

Forget. Nigerian banks are rich o

How rich? What do you think this is? 300 Spartans? Which bank wants to outspend Amazon?

But they can at least put up a fight

Sigh… Okay, let me show you something. You see that Amazon ad, ba? This was how one of Nigeria’s top fintech founders reacted (N.B: this is not the entire thread):

An emergency appreciation party? Hian! What’s that supposed to do?

Isn’t it obvious? To appreciate their staff, of course. Because I’m pretty sure that cannot be the golden strategy to stop your engineers from leaving a country they’ve longed to exit. Oh, and by the way, the party is happening in the same week as Amazon’s interview event.

I guess the party would buy some sentiment and keep them too busy

Oh, dear. I doubt there’s anyone serious about leaving Nigeria that would let one party deter them. At best, maybe finish with their interview and come back to jive. But what do I know? I’d like to see how this ends. I heard some banks are now increasing salaries and perks and speeding up training plans. For now, let me just grab my popcorn and watch.

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