It is obvious that the propaganda machine of the present administration has done a yeoman’s job with Nigerians in the Diaspora. A good many thoroughbred professionals who have carved aniche for themselves in the US have become nostalgic and are actually considering coming back home to Nigeria permanently to carve another niche for themselves. They have been brainwashed that Nigeria is an Eldorado and that we are now an investor’s delight.
For the most part of the first tenure of Obasanjo’s presidentship, he travelled cap in hand around the world laundering the image of a country known around the world as having the ‘happiest’ people. While he was doing this gallivanting around the globe wooing other countries to come and invest in Nigeria, some unarmed robbers disguised as governors and hired assassins were having a swell time; power supply was still very much the way you guys in the Diaspora left it; the taps were still dry; hospitals a little better than consulting clinics; that period saw the exodus of a lot of university dons into self exile because of the nasty way lecturers from the university of Ilorin were treated when they supported their colleagues in an esprit de corps strike. Despite the fact that the administration hosted the CHOGM and the Commonwealth Games as a means of dragging the attention of the world to the fact that Nigeria could get some things done, the world I think, saw through the charade and facade and decided to siddon look. For instance, a lot of us were so embarrassed watching the victory lap of a Nigerian who wrapped around his ebony black body, the Portuguese national flag. By far the surest thing that proved it to them that the situation on ground was still a little precarious was the emergence of militant groups across the length and breath of the country. There were the South-West OPC, the Niger-Delta MEND, the North-East Arewa, the South-East Bakassi Boys and the MASSOB crew. Now, if things were that good, how come people were fighting and asking to be recognized as Nigerians in Nigeria? I guess the oyinbo may just have guessed that all may not be that as well as was canvassed by Mr. President and his major domo, the laundering, re-branding former minister of info.
Well then, if the rest of the world was not going to swallow our story, why not woo our own people in the Diaspora, a vibrant middle-class, making waves in nearly every area of human endeavor and in a country that gave them a break? A lot of them are intellectuals who ran away mostly because some of our leaders regarded those brains they have as sawdust. Some ran away because the government in power then chased them away while for others, the enabling circumstance for productivity was just not there. The thinking in government today is that the thinking and orientation of the brethren in the Diaspora is the thinking of the white man with whom they rub shoulders daily and I guess that was why people like El-rufai, Kpakol, Fani-Kayode and Okonjo-Iweala were made a part of the think-tank of government. And to say it like it is, I think this twosome (El-rufai and Iweala) did and have done very well, and were the soft to sell that our intellectual component in the Diaspora is the panacea to Nigeria’s worries.
To answer the question above indirectly, I suppose the proper person that should speak for us all should be Obikwelu, the chap who dumped his fatherland for Portugal. While he was here in Nigeria, every effort he put in to advance the cause of the fatherland through the talent he has met a brick wall of frustration. But all of that is history now because what potentials we refused to acknowledge in him, the Portuguese harnessed to their advantage. Today, the chap holds the European record in his area of specialization for Portugal. When he won the silver medal at the Olympics, an embarrassed Obikwelu hardly knew what to make of a message of congratulations sent him by the minister of sports at that time. Now, do you honestly think that somebody like Obikwelu should fall for that old wife’s tale that Nigeria’s leaders are now born-again and that he should come back ‘home’ and contribute his quota to national development? Fa-fa-fa-faaa-faul!
But consider the case of this naïve Diasporean who heeded the government’s clarion call. He shut down the entire structure he spent the most part of his life constructing in the US and came back ‘home’. It was at the airport, the Murtala Muhammed that everything he brought ‘home’ was auctioned because there was demurrage on his container. What you would meet on ground as soon as you land in Nigeria if you come here to be a part of the so-called wheel of progress is that a lot of the things that you take for granted in the US are just not on ground. Take power supply for instance. Not, that would be too much for you to handle. Take ordinary food and transport. When you could feed a family of four in the US with $50 in one month conveniently, you would need an average of $500 to do the same here in Nigeria. You may want to take care of your transport needs by hitting town with a Lexus Jeep if you want and decide to settle down in a place like Benin City or Awka or Warri rather than Lagos or Abuja, where your expertise in whatever area that you are an expert would be greatly appreciated on account of the monumental decay in these places. You may then want to construct your own roads to drive your jeep on because there just are no roads, particularly in Benin City. Thereafter, you may need to buy a giant power generating machine to provide for your power needs. But would you be comfortable doing business and discovering to your consternation that in the whole of the community you decided to settle in that you are the only one with constant power supply? Mind you, the gas or fuel you would constantly need for your power generating set would not be free. But that is not a problem since you would be able to afford it and probably would have to sink a bore-hole to take care of your water needs too. And you would not have to mind the great crowd that would besiege you daily for water since there are no public utilities that function like the ones in the US. Honestly, I think that the greatest problem apart from all of these is that you would meet a people on ground, who are one of the most undeveloped ever anywhere. Hardly their fault if you ask me: those who collect billions of naira on their behalf are irresponsible people, to be modest, and I know you know that there is no place for these kinds of people in government in the US.
But I would not like you to take my word for it. That I have said that it is a little unwise to close shop in the US and return home is not to mean that you cannot contribute your quota to the development of your country from where you are. In fact, that you even have thought of coming back home is commendable and shows that you have some kind of altruistic, patriotic inclination. But be careful. Take it one step at a time. Pay visits back home here once in a while instead of closing shop to come back home permanently just like that. Do your own research and feasibility studies. Talk to people when you get back here and don’t rely absolutely on what you hear on NTA network news. Instead of posing like a big dude when you show up and flaunt your American accent and fancy car, take a simple stroll around most of the time. Chances are that I’ll not be vindicated but you will find it easier to absorb the shock of coming back to a Nigeria that a US diplomat once described as too rich to be poor and too poor to be rich.