DAMILOLA AINA examines why some Nigerians dumped their hot-sale properties to raise money to migrate in search of greener pastures
Ms. Sola Seun, a woman in her early 30s, had always planned to migrate abroad with her family, but the loss of her job during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated her plans to pursue a graduate degree in supervision.
He finally got his wish at the end of 2020 after his student visa application was approved; and before long, she was out of the country in search of greener pastures.
But as with many Nigerians living abroad, loneliness got the best of her and the idea of relocating her family (husband and two children) became necessary.
It shouldn’t be too hard, he thought. But to his surprise, the fund required to relocate his family exceeded his budget.
Recounting her experience with our correspondent via WhatsApp, she said the only option was to raise more money by selling her household items and furniture and renting out her three-bedroom apartment in Abuja.
She said: “The planning process for the relocation was very easy and it was through a student visa. I traveled out of the country in late 2020 after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We spent N4.1 million to process our visa. I was about to lose my job. And for the sake of my children, I had to look for other options.
“We needed more funds when my husband and two daughters joined me because we had exhausted our initial savings.”
According to her, the amount raised was small but saved her second daughter from being stranded and alone in Nigeria.
She said: “After running we had to rent out our property but we sold all the furniture and household items to raise the necessary amount of N350,000 which was to pay for my last daughter’s plane ticket.
Having spent two years in the UK, he described moving abroad as the best decision of his life, but he would return to the country for a holiday in the future.
“That decision was the best I’ve ever made, although I would still like to go back to Nigeria.”
Ms. Olayemi Alademola did not know she might need to sell property to complete her Japa project until it was time to show proof of funds at the embassy.
Yemi, who was seven months pregnant at the time of the trip, chose to use the academic route to move abroad.
The whole process consumed N20 million, but all the family’s savings were only N8 million when the process started in early 2022.
Speaking with our correspondent, she said the process was seamless and not overwhelming until it came time to show proof of funds.
According to Wikipedia, proof of funds is a document that proves that a person or a company has the financial capacity to carry out a transaction.
Although the scheme had been in the works for two years, it was harrowing to sell household items, furniture and other property to raise more money, he said.
“At first, the planning process was not overwhelming because I was actually considering moving to another country.
“We had been working on the plan since 2020, but when the UK space came up, I applied for a student visa in April 2022.
“The total money needed for the project for a family of three was about 20 million naira, although we had planned only 8 million naira.
“It was in the test of funds that we decided to get more funds and, coincidentally, that was when the price of dollars increased considerably.
“Our previous calculations were not working, so we had no choice but to sell some of our properties to achieve the objectives.
“We sold our household utensils, furniture, electronics, even our car and the amount we sold then was not equivalent to what we expected because it was an urgent sale.”
He said he does not regret selling his properties to Japa.
“This place is worth more than any regret. Assuming he knew about this plan earlier, he would have sold a lot of stuff and probably finished the process in early 2020.
“Yes, you have to work, but you get your money at the end of the day, unlike in Nigeria where wages are due.
“However, anyone who wants to go through a student visa should not do so if they do not have family. It is very expensive for a single person, ”she concluded.
While migration is a global phenomenon, in the case of Nigeria, top brains such as doctors/nurses, tech workers, and recently teachers have left the country en masse as a way to escape the difficult economic situation. They are looking for a better life that the country has not been able to offer them.
Experts say the country’s bleak economic situation is the main reason for the rise of Japa syndrome in recent times.
Japa, a Yoruba word meaning “run or escape,” has become popular slang among GenZ Nigerians, who are trying or have traveled abroad in search of better opportunities.
According to the United Nations international migration report, as of 2020, a total of 1.67 million Nigerians were international migrants worldwide.
the punch had reported on 29 November 2022 that the Nigerian Resident Physicians Association claimed it had been hit by a mass migration of its members with only about 10,000 resident physicians in the country. The association said the labor shortage has caused available medical residents to be overworked.
There have been various reports of brain drain in recent times, and this affects all sectors, including health, education, technology, etc.
The UK also in a recently issued circular announced that from February 2023, Nigerian citizens would be able to get jobs in the UK as teachers. A perceived move to attract underpaid professors and professors to the country.
Already, more than 260 Nigerian teachers have immigrated to Canada in the past year alone, according to Registrar and Executive Director of the Nigerian Teacher Registration Council, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye.
Data from a Cigna survey has also shown that younger people are now more eager to start an expert life than older people. 37 percent of those aged 18-24 and 34 percent of those aged 25-34 are willing to leave.
In addition, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, recently warned that 2023 will be a difficult year for the global economy, as major economies such as the US, Europe and China will all experience declining growth. She stressed that 2023 will be “tougher than the year we left behind.”
Difficult global economic realities projected for 2023 are likely to make it difficult for the Nigerian middle class to migrate. This is because moving abroad is quite expensive, especially for those trying to migrate via the academic pathway, which is used by many Nigerians. For those who are hell-bent on migrating, selling their properties and houses could be the option to secure a Japa ticket.
Nigerian Real Estate Developers Association President and Board Chairman Aliyu Wamakko said it is a matter of personal conviction adding that it was a good opportunity for interested buyers.
He said: “If it is someone’s personal conviction to move, there is nothing wrong with that. You can’t tell the person not to pursue their personal dream of greener grass. It will not affect the real estate market.
“It is a good decision since you cannot take your house to where you are going to move. So it is a good opportunity as long as it is sold to Nigerians.”
Seven30 Real Estate Limited chief executive Dr Oluwole Fapohunda argued that making such a decision is generally a good one, as adding a property investment is essential to raise urgent resources when needed.
However, he advised that such a situation should be avoided as there are willing institutions that can lend such funds in exchange for guarantees.
He said: “It’s a multi-dimensional situation as it has to be addressed that way as well. It is an advantage for the person selling the house. For example, suppose a house bought for N20 million is sold for N50 million, the property has experienced a capital appreciation, secured the funds for its owner and everyone is happy.
“However, there is something called an urgent sale because they urgently need the money with a deadline to meet. They are under pressure and may not sell that property for real value and this makes it to the advantage of whoever is buying.
“Generally, for the real estate market, it brings an appreciation of properties and it can change the environmental neighborhood. But then I think it’s a good decision. The whole essence in the first place is to be able to have it when they need money.
And for someone who moves, they are entering a different socioeconomic situation that they are not aware of and need all the money they can get.
“For some people, even though they sold their property when they left, a year later, they may be able to buy more property in Nigeria.”
He advised that selling distressed properties should be the last resort of those planning to migrate.