Should I go back home to Nigeria?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

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.

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Lead Needle November 18, 2011 - 10:11 pm

I agree with this article.. Nigeria can be a desperate place. I dont think it’s too much to ask to want live a life without constant hardships. I totally agree with “Nnebaby”.. “i dont have to find joy in oppressing other people”; I think this is my biggest issue with Nigeria. living in your gated communities while poverty surrounds you and slaps you in the face the moment you step out of your home EVERYDAY. It’s soo depressing. People always say to come home and help your country, but i find that the same people forget “helping their country” the moment they get a cushy job, a nice home, and a fancy car. I can’t enjoy a place where i cannot make a difference.

Thats my two cents.

Choice May 27, 2009 - 7:13 pm

Elizabeth, When last did you pray for your country? Nigeria is in a sorry state! That i agree. But if i were to be a judge, i would say that it is people like you who have made it to be so. Instead of standing up for a change, they choose to run away from it. When Moses discovered that he was a Jew, he did not do what you are doing now. he did not condemn his fellow Jews in their state of slavery and bondage, but instead, He chose to be their voice to freedom. He put off his princely robe and went before them for their eventual delivrance and salvation. Don’t condemn your brothers who are going through things in Nigeria and neighter condemn those who wish to return. God is still God. What he did yesterday, he is still able to do today. All it take is a Moses who will come back to his senses and realize God divine potential upon him. Nigeria needs a Voice. The need someone who will indeed allow God’s spirit of truth to speak through him, thereby addressing issues without compromise. No matter what people like you think, I love and will always love my Country, and i agonize for her everyday. Nigeria is better of now than what is was in 2006, thanks to the prayers of those who faithfully pray and seek the face of God for our nation. I am a US citizen by birth, but was raised in Nigeria. I am currently in the US but will return, despite the comments from people like you. I believe that if Nigeria must see better days, it has to come from peolpe like me and you who have seen the light. You don’t have to save the whole world. All you need to do is save the next president; that means reach out to those who are the leaders of tommorrow. Think about that!

Choice May 27, 2009 - 6:50 pm

Among all the comments posted here, this is the most reasonable so far. I am a US Citizen by birth, but was raised in Nigeria. I recently relocated to the US out of so much pressure from my mum, sisters and few friends. Ever since i arrived here in the US it has been really hard for me to fit into the American scenero. Yes, I have a good job and evrything is going on well for me, but the truth still remains the truth; THERE IS A PLACE CALLED HOME, and that place will always be your hearts innermost desire. It may not be the most wonderful place in the world, but it still holds the most precious and most valuable blessings that God has ever given; and that is your family, friends and you name them. Life in America is simply…, UP in the morning, go to work, come back home and go to sleep! Isn’t that crazy. And at the end you spend all that money on Taxes, bills, etc. but life at home is simply…, Up in the morning, go to work, come back home, and relax with family and friends. I guess those who are trying to advice against returning home are simply looking at the wrong things.

Nnebaby August 21, 2007 - 6:15 am

I totally agree with Asuquo. Nigerians back home like to pretend all is well whereas reverse is the case. I'll rather do what I am good at doing here rather than live at the mercy of those billionaire alayes. The pretense is just too much. It's a free world now, anybody can live anywhere in the world as long as one is properly documented.

Personally, UK is home for me cos it's the country that has offer red me life after I was booted out of job in Nigeria. UK offered me shelter cos now I don't have to beg any more. I don't have to pretend anymore and I don't have to find joy in oppressing other people.

Elizabeth November 7, 2006 - 4:13 pm

Asuquo, you spoke the truth. Those who whine about being here, let them pack their bags and go back, America doesn't care, neither does Britain, France, Germany, Canada, the rest of the world!! America and the rest of the countries in the world, will go on fine without them. Didn't they find America or these other countries doing fine when they landed in one of their airports? Some Nigerians are so full of false pride, and that is why the country will not develop anytime soon, because they can't see or maybe it's out of shame that they don't see or want to admit that Nigeria is really in such a sorry state. It's a coping mechanisim, you know your basic psyhcology lessons taught in Psych 101 about "The Strategy of Denial".I would rather be here making or earning my money and living good, rather than living a life of always having to pull the begging bowl out, No Thank You Very Much!! At least over here, your college degree can make a difference in your future. Check out the life style of some of our colleagues in Nigeria, it's just not right. After finishing university, no bright light at the end of the tunnel, except if you have connections. My dear, you spoke the TRUTH, KEEP IT UP, ALWAYS SPEAK THE TRUTH NO MATTER HOW BITTER IT IS, SO THOSE THAT ARE BLIND WILL GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE!!!

Reply November 4, 2006 - 12:57 pm

Your article embodies the coming of age for the Nigerian abroad. It is when that urge to go home hits that one realizes that Nigeria has successfully lost it's middle class and has shamed it's citizens so much so that many feel they have to pretend to be what they are not. The poor pretend to be rich through ineffective displays of "bigmanism". The rich oppress the desperately poor by flaunting and enticing them, then punishing these poverty stricken people for striking back through armed robberies and other such acts. I'll truly be delighted when articles like this wake up more dream land Nigerians. The step beyond that is getting over ourselves and getting to work on building something meaningful. Well done!

Asuquo Kibuka Ema November 3, 2006 - 4:29 pm


When you eventually relocate back to Nigeria permanently please let me know.

There is a big difference in visiting Nigeria and relocating permanently.

You are simply just a visitor when you go to Nigeria. The day you decide to relocate permanently you will definately see things much differently.

No society is perfect. America isn't perfect neither is Nigeria. I have the option (which I certainly think you do also) of living in either of the two countries and I choose this wonderful country America. Yes, life isn't perfect here but I will rather live in a country where the toilet flushes.

Benny 3000 November 3, 2006 - 3:01 pm

"When you could feed a family of four in the US with 50 in one month conveniently…"

I don't mean to be cynical, but where in the US could you feed a family of four with 50 in one month? Honestly, the writer should let me know so I can relocate there right now! Or did he mean one day? This one loud statement brimming with undisguised exaggeration sir.

The truth is, life here in the US is no paradise as many in Nigeria tend to fantasize. Truth be told, a good number of Naija people living here would find it a hard task relocating to Nigeria, not because Nigeria is no longer fit for human habitation, but because they have absolute nothing to return to in Nigeria after spending "thirteen" or "ten" years abroad. And as for Nigeria being too harsh for many an oyinboland returnee, I guess it's different strokes for different folks. I recently returned from Nigeria after a three-month visit, and I'm already packing my bags for another visit. So unlike many who live in dreamland, thinking their home is America or Europe, I know where my home is.

Elizabeth November 2, 2006 - 8:39 pm

I concur with Asuquo's comments. Nigeria is in my opinion "a failed nation." How else can one describe a country with so much potential that has never been fulfilled. I also just returned from Nigeria last month. Needless to say, after 10 years, there are no significant changes to report. Unfortunately, detoriation is more of a norm back there. It's actually very sad 🙁

Ben Idris Alooma November 2, 2006 - 7:41 pm

Chineke! Allah! Olorun!

Nigerians have now become animials without a country!!

Tunde - The Colony, TX November 2, 2006 - 4:59 pm

I cound not agree more with Asuquo's comments. Great observation!

Rosie November 2, 2006 - 2:57 pm

Asuquo, I really needed to hear this!

Gina November 2, 2006 - 12:01 pm

Asuquo I agree with you 100% !!!

Asuquo Kibuka Ema November 1, 2006 - 6:43 pm

To all the readers to this website that live outside Nigeria I pose this question to all of us – Should we all go back to Nigeria?

Please think critically before you make that decision.

I just returned from Nigeria recently after being there for two and a half weeks and this trip was a real 'Eye Opener' for me.

Being an immigrant living outside Nigeria for thirteen years now I am always faced with the question of where to call 'Home'. I suddenly realized that 'Home' is basically where your heart is. I strongly believe that most immigrants want to return to their homeland one day but the reality is that most won't. I personally know people that have been residing in the United States for the last thirty years and still talk of eventually returning back 'Home'

The reality is that 'Home' isn't what we perceive it to be in our minds. You may return to Nigeria thinking that you are going home and when you reach there you suddenly realize that you are now a visitor and can't wait to return to your home in the United States, London or wherever you reside abroad.

The true reality is that life back in Nigeria is very rough! It also depends on who exactly you get an opinion from. The one percent of the wealthy Nigerians will tell you another story because they live in a whole different world far apart from the ordinary Nigerian citizen who is seriously struggling to make ends meet. Unlike in the U.S and other western countries where there is a striving middle class, no middle class exists in Nigeria. It's either you are Rich or Poor and unfortunately majority of Nigerians are poor! I won't even go on about the horrific state of the roads, lack of constant electricity and other basic amenities. That will be an entire different article.

I know many immigrants in the U.S (mostly African Immigrants) who intentionally refuse to assimilate into the American way of life because they believe that they are just here on a temporary basis. When they go back home on a visit they can't fit in there either because they have been away for so long and have adopted a completely different lifestyle that isn't compatible with the lifestyle in their home countries. The question then arises 'Where can I call Home'?

As I said earlier 'Home' is where your heart isn't; We may never return back to our home countries to live but at least we can maintain that personal contact with our friends and family members.

I have a message to all those whinning immigrants who complain about this beautiful country America. If you don't like it please back your load and leave! There are others willing to take your place anytime and anyday from now.

God Bless America and also Nigeria!!!!!


To the writer of this article-Good Job!!!


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