With the presidential and National Assembly polls just hours away, the general election of 2023 will begin. With their Permanent Voter Cards as their weapon, eligible Nigerians from all over the nation will mobilize to elect a new group of leaders who will rule the nation’s affairs at the federal executive and legislative branches of government for the ensuing four years.
In what is known as “japa,” a mass exodus of Nigerians have been forced to leave the country over the past three to five years in pursuit of better opportunities. The mass exodus of Nigerians to other countries is symbolized by the japa syndrome among the populace of Nigeria, particularly the young.
In order to provide a better life for themselves and their families, Nigerians have used the movement as a means of emancipation from a life of misery and systemic uncertainty.
All eyes are on today’s presidential election, both domestically and internationally, as the results could determine whether or not the japa trend will continue to escalate or depreciate in the hopes that something positive can finally spring up for the betterment of Africa’s most populous country, despite the fact that many have admitted that life on the other side is not all rosy.
Some Nigerians in the diaspora who spoke with the press about the elections and shared their japanese experiences brought up similar factors that prompted them to decide to flee the country from the beginning.
A functioning system, access to fundamental infrastructure, violence by the police, high levels of corruption, and lack of accountability were a few of these issues.
But in more recent conversations, many have discussed their hopes for the upcoming presidential election and how it might influence their choice of whether or not to go home.
Nigerian musician Rela, who is based in the UK, stated that the election on Saturday is significant for our country overseas. To make sure that our loved ones cast their votes for a candidate who can actually change the world, we are keeping a close eye on the election and doing our share.
“We would return home sooner rather than later if we could ensure our own safety and the same earning potential that we experience abroad. We sincerely expect that Nigerians will elect a leader who can break the japa loop by starting to improve the country’s appeal to young people interested in settling there.
“Obviously, if we start to notice a trend of good things occurring in the nation, this will inspire a couple of us to return. As more people become aware of the harsh realities of living overseas and the fact that everything is not always rosy and glittering, we hope and pray that a candidate with a compassionate heart for the people will be elected so that we can be inspired to begin to progressively return home.
I hope a number of Nigerians turn out to vote, added Mo, a fellow Nigerian living in the UK. For every seat up for election, I pray they choose competence over greed. I’m hoping Peter Obi is elected president. And I wish for a free and equitable transaction.
“Although moving back to Nigeria is not in the immediate plans, it’s a start for us to think about doing so if there has been a major change since we left.”
Nigerian living in Canada, Kenneth Osadalor, declared: “Nigeria is the best nation in the world. I’ve been here for more than nine years, and I’m now a citizen. One effective leader at the center is all we require. Just one leader can persuade about 15 people to behave morally and provide assistance. Many of us will return to Nigeria right away if we have 15 states and a President who is upright, righteous, and does the right thing.
Nsikan, a Nigerian living in Hong Kong, said, “If Peter Obi wins, I din come back follow him family do Thanksgiving,” halfway across the globe. In all seriousness, I wish for a free and honest election. However, we already know that the Independent National Election Commission is “rigged.” Since it seems to be #EndSARS 2.0 on a large scale, all I can do is pray for a calm change.
“I’m really praying the elections are peaceful and honest,” Chioma Euguene said. I’m hoping the correct man prevails.
“I personally will return more frequently for visits if we as a country can get it right, but I won’t be moving back to Nigeria permanently. It will be nice to see Nigeria develop into a stable and sane nation with leaders who at least value fellow citizens’ lives, consider them as human beings, grant them fundamental human rights, and provide them with the necessities for a basic standard of living.
Ade, a Nigerian nurse working in the UK, also supported this viewpoint when she said, “I will visit more frequently if we make the correct choice (today) and home is called home again.”
For the first time in modern Nigerian history, there are only one or two serious candidates contending to succeed Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), the current president and leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Bola Tinubu, the 70-year-old APC presidential nominee, previously served as governor of Lagos State for two terms, from 1999 to 2007.
Atiku Abubakar, 76, the front-runner for the Peoples Democratic Party, served as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s vice president and as governor of Adamawa State before entering the race. He is competing for the presidency for a sixth time.
The Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, 61, was a former two-term governor of Anambra State who has managed to win the youths over to his side with his “consumption to production” rhetoric and promise to “take back Nigeria.” He is the underdog in the race that has managed to shake up the Nigerian polity in less than a year after declaring his ambition.
A new President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will take office in the coming hours. May the best man triumph as the entire world observes a new chapter in our history and democracy. And may the election be free and fair, ushering in a new Nigeria that will restore optimism to the country’s many millions of young people.