The Green Passport Reality TV Show

by Femi Olawole

Every Nigerian is a critic. We love to criticize others (except ourselves) for every problem in the world. We especially love to criticize leadership in every stratum of life—government, employer, church, mosque, institution and even family. Criticism, to us Nigerians, has been turned into a balm to soothe personal pains, anguish and frustrations in our day-to-day lives. And this explains our criticism of others even for personal failures, arising from poor life planning.

It’s always refreshing therefore to see or hear about any individual Nigerian who dares to go beyond mere criticism to do something. Oluwajoba Adekambi, a United States-based Nigerian is one such individual.

This young man is very concerned about the travails of fellow Nigerians who are blindly checking out to foreign lands. His concern does not extend to those of us retired folks who are simply exploiting these foreign lands to consolidate achievements back home. If our foreign abodes can still squeeze anything of value out of our spent bodies, good luck to them. And neither is he concerned about Nigerians who are abroad in search of the Golden Fleece or some assured greener pastures.

Rather, he is disturbed by the plights of young Nigerians with a lot at stake (fresh blood, brilliant ideas and future prospects) who, without realistic feasibility studies, are railroading themselves into life-time servitudes in various foreign nations.

Joba’s creative mind has germinated a documentary-based reality TV show called Green Passport. Slated for launch on September 29, 2007 at Musa Yar’Adua Center in Abuja, Nigeria, this reality show will debut on TV screens in Nigeria in October, 2007 to present a true picture of life in the United States from the perspective of immigrants.

In the first episode of the reality TV show, there is Obi Uzoamakar, an aspiring hip-hop artist. The second episode trails Kayode Sodimu as he juggles life in Washington DC. And in the third episode is Loveth Ayo, who vividly demonstrates the struggle of an immigrant in America. Working with Joba on this project are Chi Irrechukwu, Tunji Sarumi, Nike Faleti and a host of other young Nigerians who share in his vision.

It’s often sad to hear about a typical young Nigerian graduate who expends (wastes) 5 or 8 years of his/her youth and spends (squanders) close to a million Naira in processing a trip abroad. Some of these young people are so desperate as to brave the harsh Sahara desert in a bid to reach Europe through North Africa by road, thereby risking rape, instant death or imprisonment along the way. And, in spite of these painstaking efforts, many of them end up in Eastern Europe, South America and even the Caribbean—where situations are as bad, if not worse off, than in Nigeria. Yet, they merely relish being overseas.

Those of them who are lucky to arrive in rich, developed nations such as England, France, Spain or the United States, soon realize that they have been terribly unprepared or misled about the immigration huddles, racial hatred, lack of real job opportunities, the high violent crime rates and other socio-economic difficulties in their dream paradise.

Consequently, many of these young folks are forced to spend additional 10 or 15 years of their young lives running from pillar to post just to be able to settle down. Having arrived in their twenties, now they are in their late thirties or early forties and all they usually have to show for their wahala, time and money are harsh weathers, horrible loneliness, menial/back-breaking jobs and, of course, mountains of bills.

One must admit that the act of living in Nigeria is full of challenges. It’s therefore pardonable that many of our young folks have lost faith in their nation. It’s also understandable to behold an aura of sheer excitement and hope on these young faces as they prepare to board their flights overseas. But nothing can be as frustrating and depressing as the realization by these same young people that their adopted foreign land is not the Eldorado they had assumed after all.

The situation is indeed worse in Europe where humiliating prejudices against blacks are legendary. In London, for instance, there are Nigerian victims of crime (rape, physical assaults, burglary etc) who will more likely suffer in silence than seek justice. This is because the first thing a law enforcement officer will ask them is their immigration papers. Sadly, all over the world are several of these Nigerians who have become disillusioned, angry, frustrated and worse, suffered manic depressions. Yet, they are too ashamed to return home—more so, when they learn about the progress being made by peers left behind in Nigeria.

On this note, one can only appeal to those who are presently languishing in the illusory dream to check out to foreign lands. Before wasting away a precious part of their lives and huge sums of money, one might ask them—whatever happens to creativity? If it takes about a million Naira and close to 5 years to process a trip into the unknown, what stops a young, educated Nigerian from investing just about a quarter of that million Naira at hand and probably a year to set up and manage a business venture?

In 2006, this writer was privileged to meet 5 different young, successful Nigerian entrepreneurs. Success here means being able to get past a sad period of unemployment, start a cottage business from scratch, swim above water with it, pay bills, make profits and, above all, be a proud employer of labor. From a pure water factory to home-movie marketing, okada-fleet transport etc, these young entrepreneurs started their business ventures with less than two hundred thousand Naira each!

Conversely, one has met some other Nigerian graduates (one woman even has a master’s degree) who invested huge sums of money to get into God’s own country. So far, they are engaged in two or three jobs—flipping burgers, washing dishes, driving taxi cabs, cleaning toilets, selling akara/moin-moin etc etc. Some of these individuals told me dejectedly one has to keep body and soul together…yeah right! But would they, in their wildest imaginations, ever considered these types of jobs in Nigeria?

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Julius September 6, 2007 - 7:12 pm

It all depends. Mr Femi, you are only focused on one side of the story what about the other side. I have friends here in the US who are working with Goldman Sach, Yum Brands, PWC, World Bank, some of them are medical doctors. And I also have friends who works as prison wardens, cab drivers, store associates at home depot. So it all depends, one thing I will strongly advice my fellow brothers and sisters is this if at all you are adamant about coming over here, please make sure you have the right papers and be very ready to go back to school, all my friends with the excellent jobs above went back to school on their arrival in the US, the others I guess the pressure from back home never allowed them to think about school. Another important fact though, it is not all of us that are destined to be in Europe or US.

Reply September 6, 2007 - 1:40 pm

Ore, thanks for this article…it's vintage Femo…I can only hope that our young folks out there in Nigeria will appreciate and learn from the message here.

Rosie September 6, 2007 - 11:10 am

True story. Life abroad aint a bed of roses.


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