As the ‘japa’ syndrome dominates the press and gains momentum, especially among the youth, experts have advised Nigerians with intentions of travelling out of the country to do so on purpose and with dignity.
The experts made this call on Thursday in Ibadan during the seventh-anniversary lecture of the Lighted Place International with the theme: ‘Migrating with dignity in times of uncertainties’, which was organised by the Light Powered Forum in collaboration with Centre for Applied Ethics and Political Communication in Africa (CAEPOCOM AFRICA) and other allied bodies.
Delivering the welcome address, a senior pastor of the Lighted Place, Dr Sharon Omotoso, stated that the annual lecture was in fulfillment of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) of enlightening the masses and encouraging good citizenship.
She further stated that, in Africa and Nigeria, migration is considered the only option to escape structural barriers, economic hardship, and unemployment, which has landed many people into problems. She, however, added that some stories of migration are success stories while others are tales of woes.
“Worsening the matter are the rates at which families break apart in light of environmental factors and culture shock,” she said. “As much as the migration idea is a pleasurable one, there is a need for an awareness of its challenges and dangers.”
The chairperson, Dr Florence Ojengbede, in her remarks, noted that the theme of the anniversary lecture is apt for the situation Nigeria finds itself today.
She stressed that the mass migration of Nigerians, especially by professionals, is as a result of injustice, insecurity, and unemployment, as well as leadership and value failure. She said that everybody is part of the problem and should also be part of the solution.
“We are not saying you should not migrate or ‘japa’, but do it in the right and dignifying way,” Ojengbede cautioned. “Do not let people trample on your right. Do not let people give you peanuts. Know your value and worth even when you do menial jobs abroad.”
The Director of International Studies of Lutz-Hans School of Business and European Language, Dr Oluwaseyi Joseph, who was the anniversary speaker, stressed that it is good to migrate, but it should be done on purpose and with dignity, integrity, creativity, and resourcefulness.
He stated that emigrants are not fools, that they want to migrate to countries where things work. On the other hand, he advised that one should understand their socio-political and economic situation, and follow due process and route when migrating.
“There is dignity in labour. When you ‘japa’ do not invest in immoralities or engage in crime,” he advised. “Also, when you ‘japa’ return to create value and impact your community and country.”
He listed and elaborated on reasons why people migrate to other countries: education, permanent residency, visitation, business, job offer, etc.
However, he said that education is the most important because it offers chances to learn the language, culture, religion, and values of others which would enable one to adapt and maximise the opportunities the country they migrated to has to offer.
The guest of honour, the Senior Special Assistance, Diaspora, Oyo, Funmi Arulogun, commended the Lighted Place International for the lecture, which she noted was a topical socio-economic issue.
She was saddened that most people – especially the youths − give petty reasons for leaving Nigeria, which many of them do through illegal ways and processes that land them into problems.
Arulogun lamented that religious institutions and their leaders encourage illegal migration through pilgrimages and visitations to foreign holy cities, only to lure some vulnerable people into crime and prostitution.
“Many people cannot tell their left from their right when it comes to migration issues – some of them are in jail or doing drugs and prostitution abroad,” she said. “We owe the society this much to enlighten them on this matter and correct these abnormalities.”
Guests at the lecture lauded the recognition of the church as a viable problem-solver in societies and appreciated organisers of the lecture for a timely response.
Also at the event was the senior pastor of the Lighted Place International, Dr Ralph Light Omotoso, who received guests including Reverend Babajide Moteso of The Trinity Threshold; Dr Jackson Osuh, Rector Lutz Hans University Ibadan; alongside several ministers of the gospel.
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