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Nigerian "Achievers" Continue Exiting

FILE: Nigerians queue at passport control at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 11, 2019.

Departing skilled Nigerian workers are impacting nearly every sector, stretching a weak healthcare system, forcing employers to recruit on a continuous basis and worsening services from banking to tech.

Nnamdi Nwaogu, a 44-year-old IT worker, packed his bags like hundreds of other Nigerians, and has left as part of a brain drain that is punishing even for a nation used to losing its young and educated.

Nwaogu began a master's degree in England, while his wife, a doctor, will join him in January with their three children.

The phenomenon -- dubbed "japa," meaning "to flee" in Yoruba -- regularly trends on social media.

Many cite unprecedented nationwide insecurity, inflation at a 17-year-high and a loss of faith in leaders before the February 2023 presidential election.

Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD). said comparatively low pay, workplace assaults and lack of safety – 20 NARD members have been kidnapped this year -- were all reasons members left.

Real-time nationwide statistics on those leaving are not available. But British government data showed a 300% increase in Nigerians getting UK work visas in the year to June, to 15,772.

Others are going to Canada, Australia and the United States.

The pull from countries grappling with their own worker shortages is aiding the exodus from Nigeria. Expats say they are getting job offers from their new destinations, which then prompts even more to head to the airport.

For Nwaogu, there is no choice.

"I want to be able to give my children a better quality of life," he said. "I can't get that here."