On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to force the Federal Government to address the reasons driving Nigerian professionals to japa (relocate) to other nations in quest for greener pastures.
Hon. Philip Agbese, a new member of the House, presented a motion titled ‘Need to Declare Emigration of Young Nigerians Abroad A.K.A Japa Syndrome a National Emergency,’ requesting the government to “convene a national summit with key stakeholders to adequately address the ‘Japa syndrome.’
Agbese also prayed the House to “declare a state of emergency on the factors that predispose young Nigerians to give up on Nigeria in preference for other nations.”
The lawmaker cited statistics from the Nigerian Economic Summit that suggest an increasing number of young Nigerians are moving abroad.
Agbese said, “The House is concerned that the growing statistics of young Nigerians leaving Nigeria and securing permanent residence in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada portends a grave danger for our nation in many ways from economic to intellectual and social aspects.
“The House is also concerned that the Nigerian population is made of two-thirds of persons under the age of 30 and a good number of these persons are already afflicted with what today is acceptably referred to as the ‘japa syndrome,’ as estimates indicate a staggering tens of thousands have relocated to the USA, Canada, South Africa and, even, Gambia over the last two years.
“The House is worried that the eagerness to migrate to countries that offer hope seems to have compelling influence. The House is also worried that those leaving Nigeria are not just the poor but middle class, who possess skills, including bankers, lecturers, health care practitioners, doctors, nurses, trained manpower, all of whom were trained in Nigeria and emigrating at a time when their services are needed to build a strong and vibrant economy in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker expressed worries that if the status quo is was allowed to continue “with our able minds, brains and skilled personnel leaving, Nigeria may fall into a grave crisis.”
However, Hon. Sada Soli presented a constitutional point of order, claiming that if the motion was passed, it would violate Nigerians’ fundamental rights.
Soli said, “It is the liberty of a Nigerian, if he is qualified and he is normal, and he has all the granted right of movement (to) anywhere he wants. It is the right of a Nigerian, if he has the right qualifications, to go anywhere to source for a living.”
Hon. Ahmed Wase while opposing the bill said, “As good as the motion may be, first, the fundamental issue raised in the Constitution. If you go to Section 1(3) of the Constitution, it says any law that is inconsistent with the Constitution to the extent of that inconsistency is best null and void.
“So, as far as I am concerned, we have to rule on the point of order (raised by Soli) before we can proceed, otherwise we will be contributing to the contravention of our own constitution”.
When Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, the Speaker, finally put the matter to a voice vote, the parliamentarians unanimously voted against it.