A father’s agony: How ‘japa’ syndrome gves Nigerian parents sleepless night

…Septuagenarian ex-Lagos lawmaker says many currently suffering in silence It’s my 75th birthday, but only three of my 15 children are around to support me; the rest have caught the ‘Japa’ bug’


By Lukman Olabiyi

A former Lagos lawmaker, Ipoola Omisore has declared that many Nigerian parents are suffering in silence due to the effect of the ‘Japa’ syndrome on them.



He said the ‘Japa’ syndrome isn’t only affecting Nigeria’s economy but also affecting its culture, languages, psychology and the emotion of parents whose children have left the shores of the country to seek greener pastures abroad.

‘Japa’ is the new Nigerian colloquial terminology for migration. In recent times, the country has witnessed an uptick in the number of skilled workers migrating to other countries. Many of these migrants graduated from Nigerian universities, which are highly subsidised by the government. Those who seek greener pastures abroad take with them years of training and skills acquired locally.

With the ‘Japa’ syndrome, there are concerns that human capital export has created a manpower gap in different sectors of the Nigerian economy. And one of the most affected sectors has been health, where doctors and nurses have been migrating in droves in recent years. Other sectors of the economy have also had a fair share of it, most especially, information and communication technology and engineering.

Poor working conditions and remuneration, insecurity, and unfriendly economic realities have been adduced for the wave of migration. The poor state of the economy; high cost of living; human rights violations; among other reasons have also been cited as other reasons young Nigerians seek greener pastures in developed countries.


But apart from all these, Omisore, a father of 15 children, opened up on another emotional aspect, noting that the trend is negatively affecting parents in Nigeria. He shared his own personal experience on the effect of ‘Japa’ syndrome and held that if the issue was not nipped in the bud, it would cause serious havoc in the society.

The former lawmaker who is also an advertising guru expressed his feeling while chatting with Saturday Sun ahead of his 75th birthday.

The politician, who represented Ifako-Ijaiye Constituency II in Lagos State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2015, will be celebrating his 75th birthday today, Saturday July 8. But he lamented that only two or three of his 15 children will be physically present to celebrate with him because the rest are abroad.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the trend, Omisore said the benefit of ‘Japa’ syndrome could not withstand its multiple negative effects on the country and its people, adding that the trend could only attract worse than good development to the country. He noted that the trend also serves as a factor which will diminish the culture, languages and norms of the land.

Hear him: “The ‘Japa’ syndrome is a very bad idea for the development of the country. If all youths decided to go, then who will remain to build this great nation? In the past, undergraduates were the ones moving abroad to empower themselves with knowledge by pursuing degree or diploma courses abroad, but these days, the reverse has been the case. I have been to Germany and the United Kingdom to study, and when I finished I returned home. What inspired me was the way graduates were being respected in our own time.

“I stayed with my parents and helped my father in growing his cocoa business, but here I am today, with all my kids in the diaspora. This is not a good one at all, it has loosed the bond between us. I am blessed with 15 children but I cannot remember the last time I saw them all. They have all departed the country despite all efforts to stop them from going far. I’m sure most parents in the country are currently witnessing similar things but they have no choice than accepting their fate. Most children over there even ended up being absent from their parents’ burial. They did so with the mindset of saving costs. When it is time to send money for upkeep, they become calculative in the aspect of the exchange rate.

“It’s my 75th birthday, but only three of my 15 children are around to support me; the rest have caught the ‘Japa’ bug. I will be marking my 75th birthday on Saturday June 8, and I’m sure all I will get from my kids abroad is a mere video which will be staged on the podium like they did during my 70th birthday five years ago. Although we are on good terms and football usually brings us together, that isn’t enough for me to fulfil the joy of fatherhood.

“I could remember the last time I went for a surgical operation, I only had one of them standing by me which is not good enough. But I thank God, I am alive today to witness more years on earth.

“I also consoled myself by building a school which has helped me get closer to kids, who I now see as mine. The syndrome hasn’t been good for the country but I hope things keep getting better here in Nigeria because that is the only reason they can decide to return home and build their fatherland.”


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