Moving To Nigeria: What To Know And Do!

by Gbenga Badejo

Returning to settle in Nigeria is a brave decision. Once it has been made, there are a few things to put in place to make your homecoming experience a successful one.

1. First, you have to be determined with a capital ‘D’ for your plan to happen as many homecoming aspirants are simply that – ‘homecoming aspirants’. Many change their minds before even embarking on the journey. Some came and changed their minds because of the heat, traffic, electricity problems, or just because of their inability to cope with the ways of the people. So you just have to be determined for your plan not to be short-circuited.

2. There is a good argument for testing the waters for a period of time to avoid the problem enunciated above. Visiting home once or twice a year before taking the plunge will prepare you for the culture shock and all other shocks.

3. Visiting on holiday is a different ball game from settling in Nigeria. So prepare! prepare! and prepare! Don’t assume that things are as easy as they look. In any case, wherever your holiday destination may be, visiting a place is different from living in a place.

4. You have to give serious thought to what to do business wise. Don’t be fooled, Nigeria is becoming sophisticated daily and Nigerians are not dazzled by just anything because it comes from the West. Having said that, there are huge potentials practically in every aspect of the nation given that we are a developing country. These include property development, civil-structural engineering, medicine, human resource, large scale farming, telecommunications, teaching, food technology and of course information technology. Money is not free in Nigeria. Not everything sells. But whatever does will catch like wildfire. However be ready to be one step ahead as anything you do will be quickly copied.

5. Even with a very good business plan, you have to be patient and determined. There are many things that may conspire to stifle your plans. Did you get me? Be patient with the way people do business. You may be kept waiting, be patient. You may encounter missed appointments, be patient. Be patient but determined.

6. You need a good car. Apart from the fact that a car is a practical necessity, in Nigeria, a good car is a business necessity. My mother in law once told me that when your business host decides to see you to the door, it is possible that he wants to have a glimpse of your car. This may sway his decision on whether to do business with you or not.

What I have experienced is that a good car literally opens the gate to company premises and can secure a good car parking space. Even the police put themselves in check when they see a good car.

In the early days, I often went around in hired taxis. I once went for an important meeting at the premises of a large organisation. On that occasion, I had this very old red golf taxi. The driver lived locally and I use him often. Although he charges an arm and a leg, he was full of humour and has a positive outlook on life.

I arrived for my appointment with less than five minutes to spare but on the other side of the road. I decided to come out of the car and cross the road whilst he navigates the traffic and turn to wait for me. I informed the security guard that the car that brought me was on its way and should be allowed to park, to which he obliged. As I was about to enter the building, I noticed the driver had somehow managed to turn and was approaching the gate, I quickly dashed back to inform the guard. He did a head-to-toe survey of me, looked at the car and politely informed me that they do not allow this type of car in their premises.

7. You need settling mentors. You may need a friend or family mentor to help smoothen your settling in Nigeria. A very good friend provided a vehicle for us when available, shared hers with us sometimes to her hurt and often drove us home late at night. Their house was a place to chill, eat and plan. We are hugely indebted to her and her family.

We also had other people like my uncle and his wife who generously allowed us the exclusive use of their exquisitely furnished home. We felt we were living in London half the time. And also to a fantastic gentleman who repeatedly gave us work and office premises. These people cushioned the impact of our homecoming experience and we are grateful to them. Got the gist, you need a mentor.

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sultan November 25, 2008 - 9:33 pm

Dear luciano,since how close are u to akingbola,i will like to work for him.i will be thru wth my mba here in arkansas in may 2008.dnt mind me o, its part of the networking…i want to return back to nigeria asap an graduation…im on

Reply June 21, 2008 - 2:20 pm

Read the second part of the article and all about my experience in Nigeria by logging on to

Luciano June 17, 2008 - 7:26 pm

Apart from non-existent basic civil infrastructure the greatest shock I had were from my classmates who stayed behind and the amount of investments under their control.It was just incredible.But they were helpful especially those I had training with under Cooper’s and Lybrand when we were freshly out of the NYSC.Not that I did badly at Touche but the difference was too much.An example is Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank with whom I finished the British ACIS with on the same day.He was my senior by one year in school.On one of my visits home I went to see him and my mind was made up.

Life here is like that of the wild west of old, but while doing all it takes to succeed many groups are meeting to find ways of moving our country out of its present state.Just lets wait and see.

endy bonomi June 16, 2008 - 7:45 am

Am so happy to hear Nigerian’s like you,cause they strenghten my resolve of coming home.Whish we could have more soldier’s like you on the march toword”s a grater Nigeria.Please can you state the most difficult part of your first few month”s?

Luciano June 13, 2008 - 9:52 pm

Thank you endy, our country will get better because of people like you.For how long are we going to continue fooling ourselves talking about the so-called orderliness of other peoples countries while tarnishing our country with tainted brushes?No country can be right without disciplined leadership.But if those who can provide it continue to stay outside while hurling abuses or making a mockery of anything Nigerian what will happen to generations to come?The orderliness which many of us enjoy in the west today came out of sacrifices,sometimes of blood, made by their forefathers on their soil.Not from Japan or from India.There is something many Nigerians who are abroad do not seem to remember.Will life in the west be as comfortable for your grandchildren as it is now for you?How soon shall those children be part of the Bronx(as an example) because of limited opprtunities in future?What are their chances of surviving comfortably as you are 25yrs from now?What gave you the motivation to survive in the west?Was it not your naija roots and your condition back in naija? But will they be similarly motivated or have the same type of instinct and determination to succeed as you with their acquired American lifestyle?

Definitely its tough to survive here and I can add at least 10 other things you need to do in addition to what Mr Badejo has been kind to list out.I returned home after working at Touche Ross for many years.Today, I am grateful to God that I did.Now I pay short – term visits out of naija as my business will permit me.I very much prefer it that way.May God be with those of you who decide to return home.There is no place like it!

endy bonomi June 12, 2008 - 4:19 am

Men that was a great advice for many of us who are planing to come back home.Personally am about coming home to live,cause there are many things that we have learned from living abroad.whish you the best,as we will all need to come back to build that once graet nation to it’s graetest standard.

enit April 14, 2008 - 6:06 am

Honest article. Unfortunately so. This does not just apply to moving back to Nigeria, it also applies to doing business in Nigeria. The outward appearance of “well-being” – your car, the clothes you wear, your address and your attitude ie exuding “confidence”/ an aura of cockiness …almost to the point of being arrogant seems to make the the transition to living in Nigeria and doing business in Nigeria a more pleasant experience.


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