Japa: Still on Nigerians drawing salaries back home

TOPE SUNDAY in this report writes about Nigerians who are reportedly drawing salaries after relocating to foreign countries.

Though, the statistics of Nigerians who have relocated abroad and still reportedly drawing salaries in Nigeria are not available as of the time of filing this report, in recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a significant wave of emigration among its civil servants, colloquially known as Japa – a term derived from Yoruba, meaning “to flee” or “to escape.”

The exodus of skilled professionals from Nigeria is not a new trend. However, the recent spike in the number of civil servants leaving the country has raised alarm bells. Reports indicate that hundreds of government employees, ranging from medical professionals to educators and administrative staff, have left the country in search of greener pastures. The allure of higher pay, better working conditions, and enhanced security abroad are compelling reasons for this mass migration.

This phenomenon has been driven by various factors, including economic instability, insecurity, and the search for better opportunities abroad.

However, a less discussed but equally critical issue has emerged: many of these emigrated civil servants reportedly continue to draw salaries from the Federal Government, leading to a substantial financial drain on the nation’s resources.

A report by the BBC, which quoted a 36-year-old Nigerian civil servant, referred to as Sabitu Adams (not real name), who moved to the United Kingdom in 2022, and was still collecting the salary of a civil servant, opened the discussions about the alleged action.

According to the report, despite working as a taxi driver in the UK, Adams disclosed that he continues to receive N150, 000 monthly from the government job in Nigeria due to an understanding with his boss.

He said: “When I heard about the president’s directive, I smiled because I know I am doing better here – and not worried.”

Adams said he thought he would probably return after spending some years abroad when asked why he refused to resign from his position after relocating to the UK.

“To be honest, I didn’t resign because I wanted to leave that door open in case I choose to go back to my job after a few years,” he said.

FG fumes

Before Adams’ confession, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan, had earlier raised the alarm that some civil servants were still drawing salaries from the FG’s payroll despite relocating abroad and said the government would tackle the menace.

Her disclosure led to the directive issued by President Bola Tinubu that all civil servants drawing salaries from the government after relocating abroad should be made to refund the money.

The president also directed that the supervisors and department heads of the culprits must also be punished for aiding and abetting the fraud under their watch.

Tinubu gave the directive at the award night organised by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commemorate the 2024 Civil Service Week.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, Tinubu directed that the heads and supervisors of the departments of such workers must also be sanctioned.

Another confession

In another confession, a former Nigerian civil servant, who left the Service about six years ago, but does not have his name in print, told Blueprint Weekend that when he left, alleged he was called last year by some of his colleagues to come back to Abuja or his salary was stopped.

According to the ex-civil servant, his salary in the last six years has been going to another civil servant(s) accounts, and he asked the concerned authorities to investigate the matter.

“I left the civil service more than six years ago. I resigned immediately. It was last year, I got a message from my colleagues that I should come to Abuja or else my salary would be stopped. That means somebody has been collecting my salary since I resigned.

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