New Telegraph

Japa: The Ugly, Untold Stories Of Fleeing Nigerians

Japa! Japa!! Japa!!! It has become the singsong of almost every Nigerian. It is a prayer point for most, vision to see and actualise for almost everyone currently in Nigeria. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI reports that while it sounds rosy for many, it is not all sweet tales for others, who have scampered back to Nigeria silently, even under the cover of the night

In this vision, Japa is not limited to the poor or average category as it is now. In fact, the rich or averagely well-to-do Nigerians are the most seen in the vision of Japa. They are already doing well in the country, can push through the ‘hard times’ of Nigeria, meaning that they are even more comfortable home owners, having one or more side legitmate hustles alongside their official daily income.

They have more than one car, materially and financially comfortable in all spheres of life. The question most deep thinking Nigerians ask is, “so, what is the attraction for them over there? After all, they can afford vacations to and fro and still be comfortable. What really is the problem for them? What will they say is their own immediate problem going abroad?” From the random session with most people Sunday Telegraph spoke to, the answer was that the comfortable are Japaing (fleeing) because of insecurity, inconsistency of government policies and the economy that is becoming increasingly difficult. Of a truth, times are hard; Nigerians are not finding it easy any more.

They complain of inability to feed or meet their daily expenses. Reason they are all fleeing the country in search of greener pastures. Of course, those who are in genuine need and are opportune to seek greener pastures, certainly have reasons to do so. But the secured only flee the country more for status symbol than pressing needs. Also, Sunday Telegraph found out that majority of those fleeing the country are those who didn’t think twice about it but just doing it because it is the newest fad in town and because those who have travelled shared colourful stories to those back here.

Hence and ordinarily, many naturally aspire to go and have a taste of the colourful stories. However, how disappointing could it be to discover for majority of them that the stories are not as colourful as they were being told. Consequently, it turns out to be a story of, “had I known”.

Ugly tales of relocation

For Grace and Raymond, they are torn between coming back home or staying put in London and rough it the way the storm approaches them. Raymond went as a student while his wife and two kids went as dependents seven months after. Life was smooth and bearably stormy at the initial stage for this couple in United Kingdom(UK), until the wife started working night shifts and the sharing formula of the house responsibilities changed to 60-40 ratio. Also, they were sharing staying with the kids at home.

The wife, who was staying at home fully and at the mercy of the husband for income and house expenditure narrated to Sunday Telegraph that she didn’t realise how selfish her husband was until they relocated to UK. According to her, the husband told her all sorts of stories to scare her or intimidate her to stay within a restricted line and did not allow her to mingle with people. She said she obeyed, doing her husband’s bidding, content with whatever he gave to her and the kids until the day she came across some information on his phone and some documents.

“My husband was actually earning more than he claimed to me. He was also sending money to his parents more than mine. And when I raised eyebrows, he would tell me he is the one earning the money. He would send like N250,000 to his parents monthly and grudgingly send N50,000 or sometimes N70,000 to my mother. And he would give me like N200,000 for housekeep (about 200 Pounds Sterling) I was accepting when I didn’t know.

I discovered that my husband was buying expensive joggers, shirts, wrist-watches and others for himself while making sure we (myself, kids and my mom) express profound gratitude for the little he gave us. No problem! I resolved to go look for work. Luckily, I was a social worker in Nigeria before relocating with him. So, I got a permanent night shift job, which was very rewarding in terms of enumeration. At first, he frowned at my getting a job, using staying with the kids as excuse.

I fought him on that, telling him that we must do it together by rotation. I will stay day time while he goes to school and work and by night, he would stay with the kids while I go to work. Eventually, he agreed. Then the big fight that led to the separation came when he started fighting me that I must also give part of my earning to his parents, who were already getting large sums from him. He wanted to get back at me by also taking a night shift job, which means no one will stay with the kids at night.

Then came the day the devil stuck. One of the children fell sick and fainted one evening. The eldest was confused and didn’t know what to do; ran out of the house shouting for help. Unfortunately, a patrolling police van stopped, asked him questions and followed him to our apartment, where they discovered three young children, the eldest being eight years old, all staying by themselves. Oh no! What a nightmarish experience?

It took the prayers of our parents back in Nigeria for us to come out of the mess and to get back custody of our children with six months of observation. After that, my husband said he was divorcing me if I refused to resign from my job. Then, I became cynical about my husband. He may have gone far setting up the crisis just to bend me. So, I opted for divorce and mapped out strategy to cope with the children. With God on my side, I am coping just fine.”

He ran back under one year

Kingsley Amechi, is a Nigerian journalist, a father of four. By physical standard that all eyes could see, he was doing well in Nigeria; his children were attending good and expensive schools. He lived in a well secured estate. He had four vehicles, three SUVs and a Toyota Camry. As a matter of fact, Amechi was a point of envy to his mates and colleagues because he was seen to be doing well. For every holiday, he travels with his family members outside the country. He was even the chairman of his estate of about 350 families.

The little Sunday Telegraph saw about Amechi, he stays in a tastefully four bedroom pent house. Fast forward to his career, he is a multiple award winning journalist, who does independent business program for a national Television. Compare to the current condition that most journalists are faced with in the country, in terms of inconsistent salary income and or good welfare package; Amechi was well ahead of his colleagues, doing well above them.

Again, the question for Amechi is, ‘what was the reason behind his relocation to Scotland with his family members?” To attain this height and actualise his vision of ‘Japa’, he sold all his cars, retaining only one that wasn’t really in good condition, perhaps reason that one didn’t go fast. He sold about four air conditioners- both standing A/C and wall units, sold his television and a 65kg washing machine. He sold other valuables that he couldn’t open up to Sunday Telegraph.

Then, he threw open his taste- fully furnished house for sale. But the price he puts it, perhaps was what also delayed the sales. He put it at N120million but most of the offer he got was between N55million and N60million, according to him. He told Sunday Telegraph that the big men in his estate advised him against relocating. “Majority of them accused my wife of misleading me.

I kept telling them, I am done with Nigeria, coupled with my children’s urging me to go with them. I was convinced that I knew I was doing,” he said. “My first disappointment was with the pastor whom we deposited some amount of money. Upon our arrival in the UK, he sent us pizza and few cans of soda drinks. Secondly, my daughter needed to attend school and I begged my pastor friend to help write an attestation letter for my daughter, who attended his school in Nigeria. He declined with the excuse that this is UK.

As such, I should follow the rules accordingly. In fact, he shocked me by telling me to stop calling my daughter his daughter. He told me to stop using Nigerian parlance in the UK.” Amechi was in for a bigger shock. According to him, his wife misbehaved and tried turning the children against him. He believed that was because his wife works, while attending school at the same time. As for him, he told Sunday Telegraph that he couldn’t secure a job other than a social work type of job whereby he would help put pampers to the aged ones, carry them around and tend to them.

“I asked myself, is this what my life at 53, has turned to? It was at that point, I realised my mistakes and how foolish I had been. I remembered the sound warnings and counsels of the elders against my misadventure. I felt pangs of shame and thought I had no option but to push on. But God answered my prayers and corrected my mistakes in a mysterious way.

My wife and I had misunderstanding, which is quite normal for husband and wife (not violent though). To my shock, she threatened to call the Scotland Yard Police for me should I offend her any further. I didn’t believe at first until a day, she complained that I ought to have prepared food for her while she was away. I was shocked because that hasn’t been our practice. I asked if she was normal. She shouted at me and I threatened to slap her.

Angrily, I left the house for her. Halfway down the street, I realised I wasn’t with the card that has money in it. I made a U-turn, upon getting near home, I saw two female police officers stepping out of my house, giving instructions that as soon as I step into the house, my wife should alert them. I went back, stayed late before coming back inside. As soon as I stepped inside, she started taunting me angrily, shouting and pushing me to react in front of the kids. Quietly, I went inside and picked my International passport and purse and pretended to leave the house to avoid anger.

Two days after, I called to thank her and begged her if I offended her, calmed her down, made sure to subdue her anger. Seeing that, I proceeded to convince her why the children should return to Nigeria. Luckily for me, the children had complained severally of the discrimination against them in school and the teachers’ harsh attitude towards them. God so good, she agreed. Three weeks after the children returned to Nigeria, I sent her letter of intention to dissolve the marriage.”

He added: “Back in Nigeria, God so got my back that the day a buyer for my house brought N100million (highest bidder) to purchase what I had told my agent that I was ready to collect N80million was the day I came back to Nigeria and slept in the house. The not-so-good remaining of my cars, I fixed it and put to use. Sharply, I arranged my children back to school. Then, I rolled on the floor to thank God of His grace and for a second chance.

My wife wrote back to me that she doesn’t care if the marriage is dissolved or not and she was not ready to come back to Nigeria.” Amechi was lucky to get his life, business and job except his home, back on track with just a little setback according to him. He said: “I realised that relocating abroad isn’t the best thing that can happen to a man.”

From Banker Manager to Pork carrier

Raphael Olatuyi lost his lower spine to a pork factory job in France. In fact, Olatuyi lost the willpower to describe what befell him. Words failed him on how to express his sorrow. He just didn’t know how to tell his story. He, however, started by telling that he was a bank manager back in Nigeria but has now turned to pig butcher. He sold all he had in Nigeria to relocate to France, where he became a pig butcher! He sold his houses, cars, expensive furniture, his fish pond that was generating huge income like N2.5million on monthly basis for him.

And to worsen his life, he said, for 18 hours daily, he would be on his feet in a singlet and boxer, killing and cutting pigs into pork. “I really regretted my decision relocating because it has not favoured me a bit. Rather, I have lost everything including my health, erection, lower spine which led to my inability to sleep properly and even sleep with my wife. I hardly spend quality time with my family again.” Prior going to France, he was a bank manager, who was on average salary of N420,000 monthly, living in his own house, a 3-bedroom duplex with two solid SUVs- (Highlander 2011 and Toyota Rav-4 2010).

And his children attended a good school that is not within the reach of the common. So, what was the reason for relocating abroad for Olatuyi and his immediate family members? He said it is more of society influence. He saw many people including his friends and relatives travelling. “And when they get there, they tell beautiful success stories. So, I felt I could do better than my present status then. Where I worked in Nigeria, eight people resigned and relocated. I got green with envy. One thing led to the other, I left with my family to France and now filled with deep regret,” he said.

Sleeping in a park for one year, facing deportation

Mr and Mrs Kehinde Adegbola now face deportation from the UK. They were spotted sleeping at one of the car parks with one kid and a pregnant wife. They sold all they had in Nigeria with the promise that factory jobs were waiting for them in the UK but upon arrival a year ago, they couldn’t reach their travel agent, who was supposed to perfect the arrangement for them.

They were too ashamed to come back to Nigeria. They believed they could rough it through but along the way, the wife got pregnant with the second child while they were yet to find their footings.

Divorced at Gatwick Airport

Segun Adegboyega (not real name) was an averagely successful fish farmer while his wife was a primary six class teacher with a government school. Ade as he is fondly called, said he was doing quite well in the business, with majority of his customers abroad-based. He said he was already thinking of asking his wife to resign, so that he would join in the business, which was expanding. But his wife, who was heavily influenced by what she watched on social media, kept him under immense pressure of her desire to relocate to the UK.

“Breakfast and dinner time became lamentation time to nag about her desire to relocate abroad with the kids,” he said. Eventually, Ade bowed and with the help of some of his customers, he was able to arrange for his wife to travel abroad alone, as that was the available opportunity. Still, when Ade’s wife got to the UK, she kept on nagging, asking the husband to join her soon with the children. Ade sold his business-(fish ponds), sold his car, all his belongings at auction price. He relocated not knowing that wife had a different intention. He was as a matter of fact, lost in happiness.

However, upon arriving at the Gatwick Airport, where his wife was waiting to receive him and the kids, he got the shock of his life. After the wife welcomed him, greeted him warmly, she requested to see the children’s passports and Ade unsuspectingly handed them over to her while still green all over for uniting with his wife after a year. Rather, he got in exchange of the children’s passport, a divorce letter from his wife. He searched into her eyes for questioning of what happened. According to Ade’s friends, “Ade’s wife told our friend point- blank that status has changed.

She can no longer imagine her life with a fish farmer. And now that she has custody of her children in UK, she assured us of taking good care of them.” Sunday Telegraph gathered that Ade opened his eyes at the hospital but luckily for him, some of his friends came round him and offered him moral and financial support. With the help of his family and friends, Ade has however sued his wife and asked for custody of the children.

My wife drove me out of Saudi Arabia- Medi- cal Doctor turned Taxi Driver

A taxi driver simply known as Baba Bola wouldn’t pass for a highly educated person in appearance. He didn’t look it at all when Sunday Telegraph met him. From his outward appearance and initial chit-chat inside the taxi during the long journey from Berger to Ikotun/Ijegun area of Lagos, Baba Bola indicated that nothing in life interests him anymore. He simply want his daily bread peacefully through his taxi job. But he shocked his passenger when he offered a medical advice to the passenger, who complained to someone on the phone on the type of body pains she was experiencing. He laughed cockily.

According to his story, he was a medical doctor in Nigeria before relocating to Saudi Arabia. He said his friends who were there before him told him that the practice was more profitable in Saudi Arabia than anywhere in the world. Hence, he began the process to travel abroad. He was the first to go. Later , his wife and three children joined. When she got there, it didn’t take long for her true colour to come out. They had been married for six years and they lived in family compound where other members of the extended family stayed as well.

He said his wife, who is a hairstylist in Nigeria and was submissive and sweet to him, shocked him with her new attitude barely two months of relocation to Saudi Arabia. It started with his wife telling him to go wash his plate by himself, cook by himself. According to Baba Bola, life snowballed to extravagance. She refused to manage whatever he gave her. Suddenly, he said his wife joined an association of some women, who really don’t regard men. He said anytime they had misunderstanding, his wife would threaten that, she would give him everlasting scar that he won’t forget in a hurry.

“I always thought those words were empty threats until the day I woke up under Oshodi Bridge by Nigeria Policemen,” he said. He narrated that he went to work that morning, performed six surgeries on patients. Upon getting home tired, his wife greeted him with cantankerous attitude. Before he could react to her naughtiness, the Saudi Police swarmed on him, took him out of the house, levied allegation of committing abortion for an underage teenager, and he still came home to violate his wife.

After spending one year, six months in the Prison and with the prayer of his relatives back in Nigeria, he got released but woke up to find himself under Oshodi bridge by the policemen. He told Sunday Telegraph that he was still with prison uniform and smelling horribly. Even the police couldn’t come very close to him. Upon hearing his story at the police station, an officer took pity on him, sent for soap and sponge for him to bathe before his people could come bail him out. “How I landed in Nigeria in such manner still baffles me.”

Baba Bola said, adding, “It started with me dreaming of flying about in Saudi Arabia but landed in Nigeria. I woke the following day to the reality that I have actually landed in Nigeria but in a mysterious way. At the police station, they helped me to contact my people, who took me to Yaba Psychiatric hospital. I kept shouting that nothing was wrong with me but this is purely spiritual. “At Yaba Psychiatric hospital, they conducted several tests on me and after spending two months there, they saw that I was fine.

It was at that time, they calmly listened to my story. In fact, I helped the medical personnel while at the mental hospital,” he explained. But Baba Bola said he got traumatized and confused of going back to his medical practice here in Nigeria because he was told by the Lagos Health Service Commission to go sit for exams and documents/certificates he had are all in Saudi Arabia with his wife, who has never contacted him for the past one year that he has been in Nigeria. Pending the time he would sort himself out regarding his practice, he has taken to cab driving, got himself a younger wife.

“I have learnt my lesson of relocation. Indeed, no place like Nigeria, sincerely. I gave my new wife condition that nothing like relocation or even travelling abroad for holiday discussion in our home,” he said. ‘It’s tough out there’ Sunday Telegraph learnt that most Nigerians who relocated to UK, Europe and other part of the world are actually not having it rosy wherever they are. Sunday Telegraph learnt that it is worse in UK and the whole of Europe as many Nigerians are seen sleeping on the streets, malls, inside vehicles and car parks.

Our govt failed its citizens- Travel Agent

Luqman Madiu, a travel agent, explained to Sunday Telegraph that the major reason for the massive Japa syndrome among Nigerians is as a result of the failure of the Nigerian government, which refused to carry out her function of caring her citizens. He cited an example of the Arabian countries and Jordan, where he was an Islamic teacher. He said those countries don’t allow their citizens, mostly their women out of the country without cogent reason.

“And while outside their country, their government still check on them through data collation. Their governments are very responsive to them and even encourage them to come back with a promise of what to fall back on,” he said. Madiu added that the social media has been deceptive to so many people out there, making them believe all is rosy outside Nigeria. But he blamed largely Travel agents, who for the love of money convinced many to travel abroad.

“The travel agents double as devil agents because they convince many to sell their properties to travel abroad. They convince them that it is worth the sacrifice, say- ing when they get over there, they will make 10 times the money,” he revealed.

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