Johnson Babalola
August 12, 2023

Nigeria and the Japa Craze: The Airport Experience

The trip to Nigeria was simply great. You cannot go wrong when you visit a place you call home, where you have family members and childhood friends. The organic, “non-maggied” food was the best. As a Canadian immigration lawyer, I had no idea about the extent of the depth of the interest of the citizens to leave for other countries under any circumstance. Everyone engaged in the “Japa” talk. The advertisements were everywhere. After landing at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, the airport staff that assisted with my luggage engaged me in a conversation:

“Sir, I googled your name on the luggage tag and found that you are a lawyer that handles Canadian immigration matters.”

“You should not have done that. As a professional, you focus on the work at hand.”

“I know sir and I am sorry. Things are hard in the country sir. I am a graduate, but I work as a luggage handler. I have a wife and four children sir. The country is expensive. I just want you to help me to japa quickly”.

“You seem desperate.”

“I am sir. I will raise whatever amount you ask for.”

“Whatever amount?”

“Not more than N15 Million for me and my family sir”

“And things are tough for you in Nigeria.”

“Yes sir. I plan to sell the house my father left for me in our village to raise funds. I also have about N500,000 savings from this job.”

“Wow! You must be doing well at the job.”

“Not really sir. I make about N20,000 a day and I work 5 days a week.”

“So if you work 20 days a month you make about N400,000?”

“Yes, sir but I have to settle some people. At the end of the day, I am left with about N350,000.”

“Not bad”

“It is bad sir. Transportation cost is high. Feeding is costly. Accommodation is not cheap too.”

“I see. So, Canada is the solution”

“Yes sir. I work hard. I know that in Canada, I can make at least $10,000 monthly. That’s about N6 Million monthly. Imagine that kind of money sir.”

“I can truly imagine it.”

“Thank you sir.”

“How about accommodation, feeding and other expenses in Canada? Taxes nko”

“I was told everything is free there, sir. They even said Canadian government will give us free accommodation and food.”

“Who told you that?”

“I heard some advertisements on the radio.”

“Why have you not engaged their services yet?”

“I don’t have the deposit for them yet. They asked for N1 Million as deposit and once I have my visa, I pay a balance of N5 Million to them. I have no buyer for the land yet.”

“How do you intend to pay me then?”

“I see that you have lived in Canada for long and you will get me the visa and allow me to pay the balance once I reach Canada.”

“You have it all planned. So, are the people that you wish to engage based on the radio advertisements Canadians or Canadian permanent residents?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are they Canadian immigration lawyers or Consultants?”

“I don’t know sir.”

“Have you met with them?”

“Yes. For consultation sir. I paid them N200,000.”

“So, what kind of immigration program are you qualified for?”

“They said visiting visa and that when I get there, I will get jobs sir.”

“Do you know the process of obtaining work permit from within Canada?”

“No sir”

“Do you think everyone will qualify for immigration or work permit?”

“The people said everyone will.”

“Does it make sense to you that a nation will open its door to everyone?”

“It does not make sense to me, but they assured me. They even showed me pictures of some visas they got for people, and I spoke with two of their success stories in Canada.”

“Hmmmnnnn. Have you done your homework about immigration to Canada?”

“Ha! Which homework when there are experts around”?

“Take some basic steps: go on the official immigration website of the Canadian government to read about the various immigration programs available. If you have questions, consult with a recommended Canadian immigration lawyer or Consultant. Ask questions. You may even seek for second opinion elsewhere if need be. Ask intelligent questions. If you are guaranteed a visa by anyone, run.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t be carried away by beautiful websites and advertisements. Be careful not to part with your hard-earned money on a process that may lead to nowhere. In addition, don’t engage in any illegal process.”

“Thank you, sir. I will do my own research first.”

“Also, research into the cost of living in Canada and the realistic earnings after tax based on your own reality. Shine your eyes!”

“I will sir”

“All the best. My driver is here.”

Johnson Babalola, a Canada and Nigeria based lawyer, leadership consultant, storyteller and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all.

You can obtain a copy of his newly released book, REJECTED on Amazon, FriesenPress, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook Store etc.