Japa: More youths sell assets, seek fortunes abroad - PUNCH
DAMILOLA AINA examines why some Nigerians disposed of their properties in distress sale to raise money to migrate in search of greener pastures
Mrs Sola Seun, a woman in her early 30s had always planned to migrate abroad with her family but the loss of her job during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated her plans to pursue a post-graduate degree oversee.
She finally got her desire in late 2020 after her application for a student visa was approved; and in no time, she was out of the country for greener pastures.
But as it is with many Nigerians living abroad, loneliness crept in and the thought of relocating her family- husband and two kids- became necessary.
It should not too be difficult, she thought. But to her surprise, the fund required to relocate her family exceeded her budget.
Narrating her experience with our correspondent via WhatsApp, she said the only option was to raise more money by selling her household items and furniture and renting out her three-bedroom apartment in Abuja.
She said, “The planning process to relocate was very smooth and it was through a student visa. I travelled out of the country in late 2020 after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We spent N4.1 million to process our visa. I was on the verge of losing my job. And for the sake of my kids, I had to look for other options.
“We needed more funds when my husband and two daughters were to join me because we had exhausted our initial savings.”
According to her, the amount raised was meagre but it saved her second daughter from being stranded and left alone in Nigeria.
She said, “After running around, we had to put our property for rent but we sold all the furniture and household items to raise the needed amount of N350,000 that was to cater for the flight ticket for my last daughter.”
Having spent two years in the United Kingdom, she described her relocation abroad as the best decision of her life but would in the future return to the country for vacation.
“That decision was the best I have ever made although I would still want to come back to Nigeria.”
Mrs Olayemi Alademola did not know she may need to sell properties to complete her Japa project until it was time to show proof of funds at the embassy.
Yemi, who was seven months pregnant at the time of travelling, chose to use the academic route to relocate abroad.
The entire process gulped N20m but the family’s entire savings was only N8m when the process started in early 2022.
Speaking with our correspondent, she said the process was smooth and not overwhelming until it was time to show proof of funds.
According to Wikipedia, proof of funds is a document proving that a person or a company has the financial ability to perform a transaction.
Although the plan had been on for two years, it was nerve-wracking to sell household items, furniture and other properties to raise more money, she said.
“The planning process was at first not overwhelming because I was actually considering relocating to another country.
“We had been working on the plan since 2020 but when the slot for the United Kingdom came up, I applied through a student visa in April 2022.
“The total money needed for the project for a family of three was about N20m even though we had planned only N8m.
“It was at the proof of funds that we decided to source for more funds and that coincidentally was when the price for dollars increased heavily.
“Our previous calculations were not working, so we had no choice but to sell some of our properties to achieve the goals.
“We sold our household utensils, furniture, electronics even our car and the amount we sold then was not equivalent to what we were expecting because it was an urgent sale.”
She said she has no regrets about selling her properties to Japa.
“This place is worth more than any regrets. Assuming I knew about this plan earlier, I would have sold a lot of things and probably finished the process earlier in 2020.
“Yes, you have to work but you get your money at the end of the day, unlike Nigeria where salaries are owed.
“However, anyone who wants to go through a student visa should not do so if they don’t have a family. It is very expensive for a single person,” she concluded.
Although migration is a global phenomenon, in Nigeria’s case, the best brains such as doctors/nurses, tech workers and recently teachers have been leaving the country in droves as a way of escape from the challenging economic situation. They are in search of a better life that the country has not been able to offer.
Experts say the gloomy economic situation of the country is the major reason for the upsurge of the Japa syndrome in recent times.
Japa, a Yoruba word meaning “to run or escape,” has become a popular slang among GenZ Nigerians, who are trying to or have travelled abroad in search of better opportunities.
According to the United Nations International Migration report, as of 2020, a total of 1.67million Nigerians were international migrants around the world.
The PUNCH had on November 29, 2022, reported that the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors claimed it had been hit by a mass migration of its members with only about 10,000 resident doctors left in the country. The association said the manpower shortage has caused available resident doctors to be overworked.
There have been several reports on brain drain in recent times, and this cuts across all sectors including health, education, tech, etc.
Nigerian Air: Ethiopian Airlines admits seeking 15-year tax moratorium - PUNCH
As one of the many incentives to partner with the Federal Government on the botched national carrier project, Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines has admitted to asking the FG for 15 years tax moratorium, among other incentives.
This was contained in the airline’s defence against the suit filed by the Airline Operators of Nigeria at the Federal High Court in Lagos as the second defendant in the case.
The 37-page document with suit number FHC/L/CS/2159/2022 was sworn to by the Country Manager of Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Mr Wondwossen Beyene.
The airline filed the defence on December 19, 2022, less than a month before the commencement of the initial suit instituted by the AON.
In the case, scheduled to come up at the Federal High Court in Lagos on January 16, 2023, Ethiopian Airlines declared that it bid for the purchase of shares in the national carrier, just like other Nigerian shareholders.
The document read in part, “I believe as a fact that the averments contained in paragraph 11B of the affidavit in support of the plaintiff’s originating summons are a distortion of the truth. The second defendant did request tax incentives/concessions for the proposed fledging Nigerian airline, amongst other incentives, which is a normal international practice in international investment negotiations, and not against the law.
“In any case, those requests were proposals and proposed during negotiations with the government and which the Federal Government was at liberty to accept or refuse. The plaintiffs have not shown any proof that the second defendant obtained any tax incentives/concessions for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Ethiopian Airline’s position: The company also disagreed with the AON that its involvement in the national carrier project would take away jobs for qualified Nigerians. Rather, the airline insisted that its investment in the project would boost the Nigerian economy, ensures growth in the sector, and create employment and succour for Nigerian travelers.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the AON and five others in the aviation industry in their suit against the defendants, Nigeria Air Limited, Ethiopian Airlines, Senator Hadi Sirika (Minister of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Aviation) and the Attorney-General of the Federation stated that Ethiopian Airlines in its Commercial and Strategic Plan with the Federal Government on the new national carrier, requested 15 years tax moratorium from the Nigerian Government.
These Are the World’s Most Congested Cities - BLOOMBERG
You aren’t imagining it. Traffic is back to pre-Covid levels in many cities—and in some places it’s even worse.
Traffic is back. While lockdowns and home-working might have quietened our streets through the pandemic, traffic levels are now at or above pre-Covid levels in many cities across the world.
The worst cities in the world for traffic are found in the US and Europe, according to a report by INRIX Research, a transport research company. The group found that 42% of urban areas in Europe had more congestion than before the pandemic, and 39% in the US. The UK was particularly awful, with 72% of urban areas seeing more congestion.
In the UK, the typical driver spent 80 hours in traffic in 2022, compared to 51 hours in the US.
Bob Pishue, who wrote the report, said that despite it being “great to see civic and commercial life returning to normal” jams are “inching closer to, if not exceeding, pre-pandemic levels.” He added: “We must manage congestion while improving mobility and accessibility in cities to avoid it hurting economic recovery and impacting the quality of life of commuters and residents.”
These were the five worst-congested cities in the world in 2022, in ascending order.
5. New York
Three of the top five entries in 2022 were in the US, with New York ranking as the third-worst in the country. Drivers in New York spent an average of 117 hours stuck in traffic, at a cost of $1,976 each in increased fuel use and time wasted.
New York could be the first city in the US to introduce congestion pricing, with a proposal that could be launched as soon as the end of the year. The program would charge some motorists as much as $23 a day to drive in Manhattan, south of 60th Street. The idea was described as “politically and economically explosive,” by Municipal Market Analytics’s Matt Fabian and Lisa Washburn in a research note published last year.
Drivers in the Massachusetts capital each lost an average of 134 hours waiting in jams, equating to a cost of $2,270 per person. There was a huge 72% increase in hours lost to traffic in 2022 compared to the year before, when the city had ranked 18th in the world, according to the report.
Like some European cities, Boston has a historic downtown area that is not particularly suitable for car traffic, with narrow lanes.
Last year had particular transport difficulties in Boston, with the Orange Line train that runs through the city’s center closed for 30 days for repairs. In recent years, a commission to study congestion pricing was proposed, although the idea was vetoed by then Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in 2021.
Drivers lost 138 hours in traffic in the French capital in 2022, making it the second-worst city in Europe.
Traffic is a long-running problem in the city, where the center has many narrow and cobbled streets. In 2022, roads moved at an average of 11 miles per hour in the center of town.
However, the city has ambitious plans to transform its roads and become one of the most cycling-friendly places in Europe. Under “Plan Vélo: Act 2,” Paris will gain 180 kilometers (112 miles) of permanent and segregated bicycle lanes by 2026 and 180,000 more bike parking spots.
The Illinois city ranked worst in the US for traffic, with drivers wasting an average of 155 hours on it last year. This was a jump of 49% from 2021, when Chicago ranked sixth for traffic in the world.
Traffic cost each driver an average of $2,618 in 2022, with drivers on the slowest-moving roads in the city center averaging just 11 miles per hour in 2022, compared to 15mph before Covid. The city’s roads have been badly affected by remote work schedules, which make it hard to predict traffic with people driving at all times of the day, according to CBS.
The British capital was found to be the most congested city in the world for the second year in a row, with drivers spending an average of 156 hours stuck in traffic in 2022, up 5% since before Covid. This came at a cost of $5.7 billion to the city, or £1,377 for each driver, according to the report.
The five corridors to avoid in the UK were all in London. First among them was a stretch of the A219 in west London, which saw drivers waste 47 hours in traffic in 2022. This was partly due to increased pressure on the road given the ongoing closure of Hammersmith Bridge.
London is set to expand its controversial Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) scheme this summer. Under ULEZ, owners of older, higher-emitting cars are charged £12.50 ($15.22) a day to drive in the inner boroughs of London. In August, ULEZ will be expanded to cover the entirety of the city, despite 59% of Londoners opposing the move, according to consultation documents. In outer London, 70% of respondents opposed the extension.
ULEZ is, however, backed by several experts, who say that it can help to cut air pollution. England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, backed the policy at a press conference in December, when he said ULEZ so far had been “a win for absolutely everybody, including the people driving the cars.”
Foreign airlines kick, fault return of ‘ineffective’ COVID-19 travel protocols - THE GUARDIAN
*14 countries reinstate mandatory test on Chinese travellers
Foreign airlines, yesterday, kicked against gradual return of travel protocols following the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in some parts of the world, especially China.
The airlines, under the aegis of International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the reintroduction of testing and other measures on travellers had proven to be both ineffective and unscientific a barrier against the devastating virus.
Barely three weeks after Federal Government abolished facemask for air travellers in Nigeria and also cancelled COVID-19 PCR test irrespective of vaccination status, governments globally have started reinstating or considering restrictions on travellers from China, as Coronavirus cases in the country surge following its relaxation of “zero-COVID” rules.
Countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Japan, India, Canada, Italy, among others, have cited a lack of information from China on variants and are concerned about its wave of infections.
The World Health Organisation has called the precautionary measures “understandable” in light of the lack of information and urged Beijing to share more data on genetic sequencing, as well as figures on hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations.
Beginning from today, January 5, the United States will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests on travellers from China. All air passengers aged two and older will require a negative result from a test no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macau.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also said U.S. citizens should also reconsider travel to China, Hong Kong and Macau. The UK will also require a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test from passengers from China as of January 5, the Department of Health said on Friday.
Besides China criticising the measures as “discriminatory”, IATA has also called for a rethink.
IATA Director-General, Willie Walsh, said despite the virus “already circulating widely within borders”, it is “extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years.”
Walsh reiterated that research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections.
“At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days. If a new variant emerges in any part of the world, the same situation would be expected. That’s why governments should listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO, that advise against travel restrictions.
“We (airlines) have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics’,” Walsh said.
Earlier ‘knee-jerk’ travel restrictions and safety protocols did cost global aviation billions of losses, which major airlines are still battling.
Since January 1, France is also carrying out random PCR COVID tests upon arrival on some travellers coming from China, a government official told reporters. The French government has also urged all 26 other European Union member states to test Chinese travellers for COVID.
Those travelling from China to Australia will need to submit a negative COVID-19 test from January 5, Australian Health Minister Mark Butler said on Sunday. Butler cited Beijing’s “lack of comprehensive information” about COVID-19 cases as the reasoning behind the travel requirement.
India has also mandated a COVID-19 negative report for travellers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Passengers from those countries will be quarantined if they show symptoms or test positive.
Japan requires a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travellers from mainland China. Those who test positive will be required to quarantine for seven days. The new border measures for China went into effect at midnight on December 30. The government will also limit requests from airlines to increase flights to China.
UK demand for staff slips as companies cut costs - YAHOO FINANCE
The UK jobs market cooled at the end of last year, with growth in vacancies and wages slowing to the lowest rates in more than a year, according to a survey of recruiters.
The monthly index of vacancies, compiled by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) trade body and accountants KPMG, fell in December to 53.0 as companies paused recruiting to cut back costs.
The figure is down from 54.1 in November to the lowest since February 2021.
Pay pressure on employers continued to soften in December, with starting salaries for permanent staff and pay rates for temporary workers growing at the slowest rate since April 2021.
However, inflation meant wage rates remained strong in the context of historical data.
"A slowdown in permanent placements is not unusual in December, but this one comes as part of a wider softening trend in the permanent market," said REC chief executive Neil Carberry.
"Recruiters tell us that this was enhanced by firms pushing hiring activity back into January in the face of high inflation and economic uncertainty."
Permanent staff were most in demand in nursing/medical/care, followed by hotel and catering. Construction saw the quickest drop in vacancies.
Temporary staff demand rose across all sectors, according to the REC and KPMG. Retail, hotel/catering and nursing/medical/care experienced the sharpest rises in demand.
“As we move into 2023, the need to ensure our labour market can deliver economic growth and prosperity should be a critical concern for politicians. People telling recruiters that they are increasingly anxious about moving jobs is a concern in this regard – as a move is a great way to boost pay and build up skills,” Carberry said.
“If people are less willing to move jobs, this could make shortages worse in the near term.”
Nigerian passport falls by 38 places in global ranking - PUNCH
By Stephen Angbulu
The Nigerian passport has fallen by 38 places in a global passport ranking in the last 17 years.
This is according to the Henley Passport Index reports between 2006 and 2022 collated by The PUNCH
The Henley Passport Index ranks passports according to the number of countries their holders can access visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival programme.
Although the Nigerian passport gained 11 more destinations, it fell from 62nd in 2006 to 100th in 2022.
This shows a steady decline in strength amongst the 199 countries and 227 travel destinations studied.
While the green passport now grants visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 46 countries, up from the previous total of 35 in 2006, Nigerians cannot access over 181 travel destinations without a visa, visa-on-arrival or e-visa arrangement.
As of September 2022, travelers with Nigerian passports can only traverse 25 countries visa-free.
However, that number rises to at least 46 destinations when visa-on-arrival or e-visa programmes are added to the mix.
Countries offering visa-free, visa-on-arrival and e-visa access to Nigerians as of the time of this report include: Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cabo Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique , Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Others include: Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Timor-Leste, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Fiji, Micronesia, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
According to the Henley Passport Index which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, a fall or improvement in ranking is the result of several factors.
They include the country’s efforts to strengthen its diplomatic relations with other nations and its efforts to modernise its visa processes and improve security measures at its borders.
However, experts reasoned that the strength of the green document is only reflecting the internal challenges bedeviling Nigeria.
In an earlier interview with our correspondent, Research Director, Centre for China Studies, Abuja, Charles Onunaiju, argued that the measly visa-free access Nigerians enjoy globally reflects the internal woes the country is experiencing under the present government.
He said, “We have a challenge. Since Nigeria is becoming inhospitable, especially for young people with no opportunities, there is desperation to go abroad.
“Almost all embassies are now enforcing regulations on Nigerians they don’t impose on other nationals. That is very clear. People feel that almost every Nigerian wants to leave here. That’s partly true because the nation has mishandled the potential in it. Our leaders have not harnessed the vast human resources available to us.
“If we want to earn respect from outside, we must begin from home. If we want the world to take us seriously, we must get your acts together.”
But Nigeria’s passport issuing agency, the Nigeria Immigration Service, reasoned otherwise.
It said visa-free mobility is largely a reflection of bilateral agreements between countries and within regional blocs.
The spokesperson of the NIS, Amos Okpu, who earlier discussed with our correspondent on the issue said, “This ranking is based on passport admissibility. And that is largely a function of mutual understanding, reciprocity among countries which does not necessarily reflect the true strength of a passport. A good example is the European Union and the ECOWAS.
“While we appreciate the work done by Henley & Partners, we are more concerned with deepening our passport technology to meet up with the standards of the ICAO; ensuring that our passport complies with ICAO guidelines.”
Okpu argued that Nigeria has been a public Key Directory of the ICAO since April 2009 and, therefore, sits in a respectable position in the comity of nations.
The Public Key Directory is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate electronic Machine-Readable Travel Documents such as e-Passports, electronic ID cards and Visible Digital Seals.
Asserting the NIS’ position, Okpu said, “What we put more emphasis on here is our standing in the ICAO. When ICAO alerts us of any lapses with our passports, we get to work. Nigeria has been part of the Public Key Directory since 2009 and it took us complying with several passport security specifications to be reflected on that directory.
Uranium detected in package at Heathrow Airport - counter-terror police investigate - SKYNEWS
A small amount of uranium was detected in a package that arrived in the UK at Heathrow Airport following a routine screening.
The Metropolitan Police said its counter-terrorism command unit was contacted by Border Force colleagues at the airport after the contaminated material was discovered on 29 December.
Counter-terror commander Richard Smith said the amount of contaminated material "was extremely small" and has been assessed by experts as posing no threat to the public.
The package was destined for Iranian nationals in the UK and arrived on a flight from Oman after originating in Pakistan, according to The Sun.
It was found in a shipment of scrap metal, the BBC reported.
Mr Smith added: "Although our investigation remains ongoing, from our inquiries so far, it does not appear to be linked to any direct threat.
"As the public would expect, however, we will continue to follow up on all available lines of enquiry to ensure this is definitely the case.
"However, it does highlight the excellent capability we and our partners have in place to monitor our ports and borders in order to keep the public safe from any potential threats to their safety and security that might be coming into the UK."
The material has been identified as being contaminated with uranium, the force said, and no arrests have been made.
Former head of the British Army's chemical weapons unit, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, told Sky News that it was "a concern" that the material has apparently reached the UK, having come all the way from Pakistan, but that he did not think the public should be overly worried.
He added: "I think it's excellent that the police and others have interdicted this and made it safe, but we must be on our guard because there are bad people out there who want to do us harm in this particular manner."
Speculating about the intent, he said "we must be open to the fact this might be some sort of terror type thing".
Mr Bretton-Gordon said while there is no indication that a group such as Al Qaeda were behind the incident, he argued it "has their trademark and fingerprints on it".
Whatever the origin, he said the material "absolutely shouldn't be on a commercial airliner".
The Met said officers are working with partner agencies to investigate the incident and ensure there is no risk to the public.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We do not comment on live investigations."
Uranium is a metal that exists naturally in the earth, but is harmful to humans because it is radioactive.
Heath Secretary Steve Barclay told Sky News that he hoped for more information in "due course" about the material seized at Heathrow.
He said: "Clearly there is an investigation under way and it is right that it looks at all the issues, and I'm sure it will report in due course."
All flights across US grounded due to FAA computer system glitch - US media - SKY NEWS
All flights across the US have been grounded due to a glitch with the Federal Aviation Administration's computer system, US media reports.
In a statement to NBC, the FAA said: "The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System.
"We are performing final validation checks and repopulating the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected.
"We will provide frequent updates as we make progress."
Several people tweeted to say they had been stranded due to the outage.
Abeokuta-Lagos road will be renovated in 2024 – Abiodun - REUTERS
The Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has assured users of the Abeokuta-Lagos Road that it would be renovated in 2024.
He gave this assurance on Tuesday while inaugurating the Itori Township Road in Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state.
Abiodun noted that agreement would soon be reached with the Federal Government to reconstruct the road
He declared that his administration would fix major roads that are in deplorable condition.
The governor said, “The reconstruction of the road was in fulfillment of the promise made during the 2019 campaign. The essence of government is to serve the people.
“My administration remained the first to ensure equal distribution of projects to all parts of the state, No local government has been left out in project execution.”
He assured the people that his administration would soon commence the construction of affordable houses in Itori, the headquarters of Ewekoro Local Government.
According to him, previous efforts made by his administration were not successful as the FG insisted that the road was under a contract.
Addressing party faithful and people at the campaign rally in Papalanto, Abiodun, promised that the old Ilaro road in the town would soon be reconstructed, while more blocks of classrooms and the renovation of the old structures would be carried out in Papalanto High School.
The governor, while acknowledging the importance of good roads in the socio-economic development of any society, noted that the road when rebuilt would further boost the economic activities in the area.
He, however, urged the people to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards to enable them to participate in the forthcoming general elections.
In his remarks, the Olu of Itori, Oba Fatai Akamo, said the road has been in a deplorable condition for as long as previous governments did not pay attention to it.
NIS committed to issuing passports in 3 weeks – C-G - VANGUARD
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says it is committed to issuing passports between three and six weeks post biometric capture, where there are no technical hitches or application irregularities.
The NIS spokesperson, Mr Tony Akuneme, in a statement in Abuja, quoted the Comptroller-General, NIS, Mr Isa Jere, as saying this at the inauguration of an enhanced e-Passport production facility in Kano on Wednesday.
Jere, who was represented at the event by the Assistant Comptroller-General, Passport, Sadat Hassan, however, said that the three to six weeks period would be achieved, only when there were no inconsistencies in the NIN of applicants.
The C-G, who expressed satisfaction with the positive feedbacks from the various Passport offices across the country, said this showed that Nigerians had appreciated the novel initiative.
He emphasised that NIN remained mandatory for the issuance of Passports and the information in both documents must match.
“We reiterate our official position that Passport applicants should please avoid using third parties but go online and make their applications/payments themselves at passport
“We will continue to deal with the challenges of recalcitrant touts as well as few bad eggs amongst the personnel who are bent on sabotaging the reform process,” he said.
He used the opportunity to warn members of the public of the nefarious activities of this racketeering syndicate who have gone a step further to even circulate fake news of Immigration recruitment exercise.
“The Service is not recruiting at this moment and will always publish such recruitment as usual, anytime we secure Federal Government approval for recruitment,” he said.
Jere asserted that his management team remained focused on improving service delivery with particular emphasis on efficient and seamless Passport administration, border security and welfare of officers and men of the Service.
He further explained that the Service intended to keep the two weeks processing timeframe open to all Diasporas until Jan. 31 when the programme would come to an end.