• By Hannu Afere

“Wahala for who no já pa.”

Chances are, you’ve heard this said before. It was a trending issue for a whole month! (Which in itself is impressive, because Naija social media has a notoriously short attention span.)

For many people, the epiphany is a recent one. Following the End SARS protest and the blatant recalcitrance of the Federal government to listen to the people and stop actively trying to silence its youthful population, it’s become an undeniable fact– even to the ostriches– that the State in its current state is going nowhere.

So? So many people– especially the youth– have either left the country or are planning to do so. The more you hear jokes about writing international exams such as IELTS or TOEFL, the more you realize… Education is no longer the best Legacy– education is simply now the best Passport.

This article would be too long if we discussed in detail the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ people never return. The appeal of self-imposed exile is just too wonderful. I mean, even with your first degree, you could live decently. Not like a corper surviving on the cost of a cuppa (Ah Yes, the wordplay!) But decently enough to pay your bills and treat yourself to the nice things of life once in a while. The game plan however, is usually to finish your master’s, do well, get a job or go for a PhD and continue minding your business.

A different demographic from the above mentioned are those who haven’t got student Visas, but who are just as desperate to leave. The asylum seekers.

In the news this week, we’ve heard that Nigerians are leading world asylum claims to Canada despite strict Covid-19 travel restrictions.

On the list, Nigeria is number one, beating even China! For context, China has a population of 1.4 billion– compared to Nigeria’s 200 million. It would make sense that more chinese people would be interested in immigration (in general), and asylum application in particular. But the reverse is the case.

In fact, this is the fourth straight year Nigeria is topping the list.

It used to be a popular strategy to identify as homosexual. (And it probably still is). Since one’s sexual orientation is still a criminal offence in Nigeria, western countries are usually more sympathetic to the persecution. According to a report on Quartz, 60% of Nigerians seeking asylum in Canada from 2013 to 2017 claimed to be either homosexual or bisexual. Compared that percentage to the 12% for other nationals!

Whether the claims are fabricated or not doesn’t really matter. The logic is: just get out.

The Asylum seeker who is successful, more often than not, reflects a better quality of life and becomes an instant celebrity. I mean, what is there not to love about this newly minted diasporan? And let’s not e about the freshness of even get into things like the freshness of his skin and the quality of his pictures… His posts on social media get more engagement, his opinions garner more likes, he is suddenly seen as more intelligent, more sophisticated, more influential and even more sexually attractive!

Shallow, yes. But shallow is a currency too. People don’t care about being shallow so far as they are not hungry. People don’t care about being shallow so far as there is hope of security– living abroad is the equivalent of the promise of heaven. And it’s just as well, the Asylum seeker regards those left in the country as good as dead.

While writing this article, it occured to me that some people seek asylum not just to run away from the ghastly crime scene that Nigeria currently is, they seek asylum to also run away from what Nigeria can make you become.

The system is so rotten, morality is an obsolete, old-fashioned concept. Injustice walks in broad daylight with the ripeness of pus and equity, for all intents and purposes, is non-existent.

Seeking Asylum is an interesting concept because the other meaning of the word has to do with mental institutions. But we ALL have mental issues in Nigeria, don’t we! From the shallowest individuals to the ones seeking new horizons due to trauma faced here. We all have issues. Then there are those who try to guilt-trip folks intent on leaving; talking about “if we all leave, who is going to fix the country?” For those kind of mental cases, my choice response is to simply let it hang. Nobody has time for useless rhetorical questions.

“Wahala for who no já pa.”

My dear reader, to wrap this up, I’d like to say I hope that you are just as disenchanted with the circus we call ‘the government’ as I am. And you are probably still waiting for one or two things to click before you make your move, so I’m going to encourage you by saying: Fear not.

I too, am like you.

Keep working smart, it will all pay off.

In the end, we get our own slice of the Nigerian dream. In the end, we leave.

(c) Hannu Afere 2020