Labour Jumps At The Best Reward

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Labour Will Always Move To where It Is Best Rewarded


Joseph Anetor, FICM

Increasingly, globalization is making the mobility of labour easier and within reach of those who need it and can pay for it. Its nature is multidimensional; aided by technology, labour either migrates physically to where it is needed or offered remotely regardless of distance.

The competition for talent can only get stiffer and will definitely gravitate towards employers who offer the best rewards for the skills they need.

How does Nigeria win the war for the talent of its citizens in this globalized world? This was the focus of the ICM Webinar Series themed, The ‘Japa’ Syndrome – Impact on Organizations, Management & Future Implications for Nigeria. The event offered both facilitators and participants the opportunity to appraise the Nigerian situation in great depth – identify causes for the upswing in migration among the youth population especially the skilled and talented ones; impact on the general economy and ways to mitigate the unrelentless drain on the countries talent pool.


What is Japa?

‘Japa’ is a Yoruba slang, which means to flee, run or escape. The slang first became a buzzword among the youth demographics few years ago, but it has now gained traction among the older generation who are also moving out of the country in large numbers with their families.

The question is what has changed? What is the motivation for the upsurge in migration? The general feeling is that of discontent with the system which offers very little comfort if any; from security to lack of infrastructure, perennial to persistent strikes by academics, corruption and institutional decay, poor and non-existent medical facilities, high rate of unemployment  among many other factors. Japa is an escape from these myriad of problems ravaging the Nigerian state, which the youths desperately want to break away from.

Institutional Decay and Corruption


Dr Courage Ijeghede

Dr. Courage Ijeghede, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Courage Consultants based in Monchenglabach, Germany believes that institutional decay and corruption are to blame for the mass exodus of young Nigerians. Courage who left Nigeria in the 90s when Nigeria was a lot better economically in comparison to now feels that Nigeria’s growth has become stunted, offering very little opportunity for its growing youth population of about 37%.


Dr. Courage Ijeghede holds the belief that if opportunities are too few for a highly populated country like Nigeria with an estimated annual population growth of 3%, the result will be serious discontent with the system.

‘’What we are experiencing in this mass migration is a revolt against the system. Open disapproval with the way things are done currently and a call for change in the existing state of affairs.’’


Courage who also lectures in Rhein Waal University of Applied Sciences, Kleve and CBS International Business School, Mainz sees the surge in migration as nothing new; according to him, labour by its nature will always move to where it is best rewarded. An indication that this trend will continue for sometime unless something drastic is done by the government to redirect the interests and attention of these economic migrants.

Safety, Another Reason


Kevin Philemon

Kevin Philemon, a UK based Nigerian broadcaster with the BBC, Bristol chose to see this from the perspective of security. Kevin believes security ranks highest among other considerations. He advised the Nigerian government to get her security right by ensuring the safety of its citizens. According to Kevin, not everyone who leaves Nigeria does so for economic reasons. Some are pushed to leave because Nigeria has become very unsafe especially in the past few years. Without security nothing else matters.

Impact On Organizations

While talents are being shipped abroad for some, or all of these reasons, virtually every sector in Nigeria is feeling the pain of this exodus. From telecoms to tech, banking, oil & gas, education, the medical sector etc.

Echoing lamentations of shortages of experienced hands to fill critical roles lately, the Engineering Manager of Chevron Nigeria Limited highlighted the need to ensure his organization adopts top-notch retention strategies that would aid the retention of experienced engineers for his company. He bemoaned the inability of Chevron to speedily fill up vacant positions as it used to due to mass migration of talents outside the shores of Nigeria.

Every organization seemingly have the same challenge or what looks like the same pain points. Cakasa Engineering Services, a key player in the oil & gas sector decided to hire five bottom level engineers. The strategy was to groom them for at least two to three years before they begin to adapt and take on challenging tasks. In less than two years, all five left the same year. Some to Canada, France, United Kingdom and Germany.

Competition For Talent Has Become Fully Globalized

Consideration and application of any retention strategy by local organizations must have both local and global flavour for it to generate the desired appeal and have any meaningful impact on the work force. This is because the competition for talent has shifted from the local arena to the international stage. Those who remain with you might be sharing your time gigging for another company thousands of kilometres away.   

Role of Government

The Nigerian state has a greater role to play to arrest this unfortunate turn of events. The sooner it sees this as a problem that will become bigger and more complex as the years roll by, the easier it is to solve. Providing purposeful leadership and provision of basic infrastructure and security are core responsibilities of government. The lack of these will continue to encourage the outflow of talents that the country badly need for her development.

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