The number of Nigerians living in Canada crossed 33,000 in 2016 and the number keeps rising.
Since Eedris Abdulkareem sang "Nigeria jaga jaga" in 2004, more than 33,140 Nigerians have gone on to settle in Canada. Is it really time for Nigerians to abandon ship?
In the 60s and 80s, when first generation migrants fled to the United States of America and the United Kingdom, either due to the civil war, economic recession or the oppressive regime of the military. For the past decade or so, Canada has become the choice migration destination for middle-class Nigerians.
Though lower-class Nigerians have made peace with the route to Libya, a staggering number of middle-class Nigerians, sometimes with high-paying jobs, are ready to quit their jobs and tow the path of the famous Canadian visa pool or the student pathway.
According to Canada Immigrants, over 27,625 Nigerian immigrants resided in Canada in 2011 alone. In 2016, the number crossed 33,000. As at 2017, there were over 11,000 Nigerian students in Canada, according to Sun News Online. These numbers seem to be increasing sporadically as the months go by.
Due to the high number of applications, the process of obtaining legal visa entry into Canada has become increasingly difficult. Nigerians who couldn't succeed at the pool took to the refugee option, making Canada toughen its asylum policies.
In fact, over 5,000 boarder-crossing refugees through the US into Canada in the first half of 2018 were Nigerians with valid US visas.
The new Nigerian dream
People are quitting high-paying jobs to go join the Skilled Workforce abroad. Nigeria, who used to be fondly referred to as the giant of Africa is now being said to have economic difficulties, lack of jobs and unstable political and physical living conditions.
There are also claims that the new Nigerian dream is to move abroad.
Many are of the opinion that the grass is greener at the other side and their skills will be more valued abroad than in Nigeria, where they are being taken for granted and undervalued.
For instance, why should medical students and doctors flee? In September, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, faced backlash on social media after he fumbled a question on why it is hard for doctors in Nigeria to get residency training to become specialists in the country.
The minister casually responded that all doctors cannot become specialists and should try their hands at other things like farming or politics. While still failing to answer to question, he said his tailor makes the best gowns despite being a doctor.
Around the same time, doctors in Canada went on strike for being "paid too much". Statements like that of the minister make opportunities like this in Canada, being brandished on social media, seem like a gold mine.
Canada used to be referred to as the America's less cool big sister, but it has quickly become the new world for working structure, standard education and endless possibilities.
First, it is one of the most immigration-friendly nations in the world and has been rated as one of the best countries to live in by the United Nations. The country is rich in natural and oil resources and also has some of the best universities in the world. The country has low crime and violence rate and a high standard of living.
Canada presently has no limit on the number of people who can apply for a visa. This is due to the urgent need to refuel their ageing population and workforce. Canada still hopes to admit 85,000 skilled migrants by 2020.
Another major attraction is the working healthcare. Due to the functioning tax structure, hospital bills are next to nothing and healthcare is very affordable. People, allegedly, board buses from the United States, to go buy cheaper medication in Canada.
Canada just also recently legalised marijuana, if at all a reason.
One cannot fault those that are leaving so much though. It would be hard to convince someone intent on leaving to stay back when they can see that those who left Nigeria in the first wave of the 80s, and their children, are now well-to-do in those countries they moved to.
However, one can argue that there are also many well-to-do Nigerians of the same age, who stayed back in their countries.