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I Had The Chance To Japa In 2016, But I Refused. Now I’m Full Of Regret

This 29-year-old businessman was given the option to japa right after university but turned it down. He talks about how inflation has made him regret that choice, and what he wishes he did differently.

This is his story, as told to Agnes Emmanuel.

In 2016, I finished my law degree at the University of Benin. In my head, the next logical step was law school. This was when my parents presented me with two options: Law school or japa

They had saved money for me to attend law school but wanted to provide alternatives just in case I needed to explore. I was torn for a while, but my silly self eventually decided to go to law school. 

I rationalised my decision by telling myself, “If I leave and want to come back, without law school, I wouldn’t be able to practice and my degree would have been a complete waste of time.”

You know the worst part? I don’t even practise now. The law school I went to ended up being a complete waste because I will never practice law in this country. The japa option would have made more sense. The whole thing gets even worse when you realise I spent what was left of the law school money on a piece of land that hasn’t increased in value.

After agreeing to go to law school, my mom gave me ₦900,000 as a congratulatory gift. As time went on, she started suggesting ways I could invest the money. Nothing really clicked until she mentioned that my uncle abroad wanted to buy land and saw a good piece I should consider. 

Land investments were all the rage at the time. Everyone was struggling to buy and hold so they could sell at a profit. I also reasoned that I could buy “the dip and hold” or just build on the land later and rent it out. These were my foremost thoughts when I paid for the property. Fencing and sorting other additional bills cost ₦100,000 — everything came to a million naira. 

The land is now worth ₦2,500,000. By my estimation, the value of naira plus inflation puts my land investment at a loss. The purchasing power of ₦900,000 in 2016 was higher. I could have just processed my visa, bought my ticket and sorted myself when I got there. I can’t do that with ₦2,500,000. How much is a flight ticket now?

Sometimes, doing the surest thing at a time won’t guarantee you a positive outcome. When I had to choose between law school and leaving Nigeria, I asked my friends what I should do. Most of them said I’d need my law degree one day and I had come too far not to go to law school. I wish I hadn’t listened to them.

Simple research on my end would have shown that Nigeria is saturated with lawyers and not enough chambers to go around. My chances of being a successful lawyer were slim. The land I bought may increase in value but not by much, considering the time and inflation. Japa was always the better option. I should have known that. 

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