Nigeria’s “Japa Exodus”: Surge in Passport Applications as Citizens Seek Greener Pastures


Passports Passport Japa

A new year’s exodus appears to be underway in Nigeria, fueled by a record-breaking 32,462 passport applications submitted online over a mere two-week period from January 8th to 21st, 2024.

This surge, driven by Nigerians seeking “greener pastures” abroad, has overwhelmed the Nigeria Immigration Service website, with half of those applications – 15,113 – already approved for biometric capture and passport production.

The dramatic rise in passport applications reflects a deep-seated yearning for better opportunities among many Nigerians. Economic hardship, insecurity, and limited prospects within the country are pushing citizens towards foreign shores, a phenomenon aptly termed “Japa” – a slang expression for “to leave.”

The summary of passport applications for the year 2024 was provided by the Comptroller-General of Immigration Service, Caroline Adepoju, who was on a visit to Ikoyi and Alausa passport offices, on Tuesday, to see how things were working, regarding the introduction of the automated passport application process.

Briefing journalists at the end of the assessment, the Immigration boss said of the 32,462 applications, 11,505 were awaiting approval, while 3,406 who made payment were yet to book appointments.

According to her, 1,438 applications were queried for various reasons.

Adepoju said: “50 per cent of the total applications have been successfully approved for biometric capture, production and issuance, 35 per cent awaits approval, 11 per cent made payments but yet to book appointments and only four per cent of total applications were queried.

“When queries are successfully answered, the applications return to the queue and are subsequently approved for biometric acquisition, production and issuance.”

Analysts suggest this trend could be further fueled by the recent removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions, and the depreciation of the naira against major currencies. With the lure of greener pastures beckoning, it remains to be seen if this passport application surge will be a temporary blip or a sustained exodus.

Immigration officials, currently grappling with the backlog, are urging applicants to exercise patience and adhere to the online appointment system. As Nigeria grapples with this unprecedented level of outbound migration, the underlying factors driving the “Japa” phenomenon demand critical examination and urgent solutions to stem the tide and reverse the brain drain.


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