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Japa Chronicles Pt 1.

For this limited series, Bside will be looking to speak to a number of young Nigerians who have recently relocated out of the country, discussing why they relocated, what the process was like and more.

Participation and interest in the country’s general election is usually low or passive at best, but at the moment, more and more people are showing a desire and willingness to go out to perform their civic responsibility in the forthcoming 2023 elections. The reason isn’t far-fetched: the country has been ravaged by economic woes, inflation, insecurity, coupled with a plethora of worrying reasons that constantly threatens the standard of living, livelihood and safety of the people. While there are hopes that the next regime will try to remedy eight years of endless economic plummeting, the sad reality is that the damage and set-backs of the Buhari regime are not the kind that we will be quickly recovering from.

The current situation of the country is so dire, it's displacing countless people, especially youths, away from their home. In search of greener pastures, a saner clime and to escape the harsh realities of the country, more and more Nigerians are migrating to different parts of the world. To get a more in-depth and personal view as to why many Nigerians are leaving the country, Bside would be conducting a series of interviews with Nigerians who have recently relocated abroad. These interviews will touch on their reasons for leaving, when they made the decisions versus when their applications were eventually granted. They will also shed some insight to the rigorous process of relocating.

Our first interviewee is Marcus, a 28-year-old who was a school teacher and private tutor before leaving Nigeria for the United Kingdom to get a Masters degree.

This messaging has been transcribed for article purposes.

Bside: Can you give us a bit of a background of your life before you made the decision to relocate?

Marcus: When I graduated university in 2016, I knew that the process of finding a job would not be easy. I graduated pretty late, due to my parents declining finances. Unfortunately, the economy did not favor them. My father had to switch businesses several times to stay afloat. Often, the only income coming through the family was my mother’s, who sells lace in Lagos Island. While she does really well, the business requires a lot of capital which she was at times unable to come by. I wanted to support myself right out of university as I had already been doing some odd jobs here and there even while in school. Rather than waiting to get my teaching certification and get hired by a school, I decided to do private teaching lessons. This helped a lot, as I used the money to pay for my subsequent exams and other necessary materials channeled into becoming a teacher. To be very honest, I loved my job. Interacting with students was a passion for me and I never resented them, even in difficult moments. A lot of parents recognized my efforts into making sure their children succeeded, and I was very popular in the private lesson teaching world. Everybody wanted me to train their children in core subjects, so I made sure I charged my rate and got fair prices.

What was work like for you when you were still teaching in Nigeria?

On a typical day, I would go to work at the school then head straight to a child’s home when school closed. I would finish lessons around nine in the evening, then head home to wash up and get rest for the next day. The income was somewhat okay right until my father got ill, and then it wasn’t. Teachers are paid next to nothing and my accounts were being bled dry from hospital bills. To make it worse, as the stress piled on, I was not able to keep up with as many private lessons as before.

So what informed your decision to leave?

My friend in the UK encouraged me to apply for a Master’s degree program, as many people were making plans to leave especially after the COVID 19 pandemic. At the time, the UK began to give three-year work visas after some programs. I did a lot of research and had a lot of sleepless nights trying to pick the right program of choice. I was eager to go, but did not want to jump into anything I could not keep up with. Fortunately, I found the program that was right for me. I first applied to the University and awaited their response. After receiving an acceptance, it took me about half a year to gather documents, save up enough for the numerous applications and medicals required. Eventually, I was ready. I applied for the visa and was granted. Although to a lot of people it seemed abrupt, so much work had gone on in the background.

How did you feel when you got the acceptance and visa?

The feeling was cathartic, I knew that I would miss my family a lot. I was also very sad when announcing to the children whom I tutored that I would be leaving Nigeria for good. The reality of my situation means that I will be unable to come back and even if I do, it's not going to be in the near future. Even though settling in was so uncomfortable, hard even, I am happy now that I am able to care for my family. The money that I sweat to make does not just vanish before my eyes, as it often does in Nigeria.

My hope for the future is to be able to bring my parents into the United Kingdom, especially now that my father is almost fully recovered. I have been stylishly encouraging them to get their passports and travel to some African countries in order to get stamps there. Financing a trip will not be a problem now that I have a full-time job that pays well above average as well.

What’s it been like working in the United Kingdom?

Thankfully, I was smart enough to choose a field in the computer sciences for my Masters and I landed a job that was in the tech field. I am also researching certifications that will take my pay grade up. It is, however, important to note that even when you manage to leave Nigeria, not everything is rosy from there on out. People looking from Nigeria might assume you’re super comfortable and whatnot, but you have to work very hard when you move. Despite the fact that many are convinced it is all easy money once you move. It is not.


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