Move Back to Nigeria: “Life is Tough in General & In Nigeria, Life is Tougher!” Enarime Mueller Shares Her Tips on How to Get Back Into the Swing of Things

Move Back to Nigeria is a new series on BellaNaija. The aim is to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them. The idea is to share their successes and their challenges as they made the decisions they did. A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora have questions about making a change at home in Nigeria. Many suggest really good ideas on how to make things better; others would like to contribute to making a difference back home but are just not sure where to begin.

Movebacktonigeria.com is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living, studying and working in diaspora.

This week, the spotlight is on Enarime Mueller, a regulatory affairs executive with BAT, Nigeria. Her story is quite instructive, as she left Nigeria for a short study stint abroad and like many people who have done the same, found it surprisingly challenging reintegrating into the system. Read on to find out what her experiences have been and how she successfully overcame them.

Let’s begin with introductions: Can you tell us who you are?
My name is Enarime Mueller. I moved back in 2009 and I’ve changed jobs and career paths twice, as I worked briefly in a Big 4 Consulting firm in Financial Advisory before the move to the multinational where I am currently. I read voraciously and I have a passive aggressive love interest with national politics.

When and why did you leave Nigeria?
Unlike most young repatriates that have been featured, I didn’t actually live in the UK for a long time before returning. Upon completion of my BSc in 2007, I decided to get the one year mandatory NYSC done and out of the way. Even though I had an offer to stay back where I served, the opportunity to go to the UK for my MSC presented itself in 2008 and you know how we like foreign certification in Nigeria, so I just seized it and proceeded to the UK for my MSC.

We certainly like our degrees! Could you describe your educational background?
My secondary education was in FGGC Benin City. I then studied Economics at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State for my BSC and went for an MSC in Business and IT from Aston University in Birmingham UK. I moved back to Nigeria a month after completion of my degree.

That was quick, why did you decide to move back to Nigeria?
I always knew I was going to return to Nigeria immediately after my program so I decided to forego the discretionary two year post study work visa option at the end of my studies. I also did not have the money to give to HM Revenue & Customs and did not see the point hustling to sort it out. I felt my chances would be better in Nigeria as I had seen people who had been in the UK and still had not landed the kind of jobs we all wanted. The people that had good jobs were a dime a dozen. Also, I had people to support and I felt I would get a job faster in Nigeria and didn’t see the point wasting time in the UK.

Right! So, how did your professional life and career begin?
Well, I did not have a job waiting for me before I moved back to Nigeria. When I returned in late 2009 and started looking for a job, it was a strictly personal hustle because I did not really have anyone to place me somewhere and I cannot classify myself as the entrepreneurial type, so ‘doing business’ was out of the question. Getting a job was one of the most trying experiences in my life, my dad thinks that it’s because I seem to have had everything fall into place for me growing up (like getting into school on time, good grades etc.). I don’t necessarily agree. I believe everything takes hard work and sacrifice, and I usually file such experiences in my ‘paying my dues’ folder. I was tested and tried, I cried, I begged, I was miserable. At the end of each crying session, I would clean my eyes and get on naijahotjobs, findajobinafrica, careersinafrica etc. I had them bookmarked on my phone. I was throwing my C.V anywhere and everywhere, brushing up on my test taking skills; I had the foreign and Nigerian versions of the GMAT textbooks. I had all my certificates saved on my phone (Bsc, Msc, NYSC, SSCE even my birth certificate) so I would apply for any role at the drop of a hat and forward it to anyone who asked. There was no question of “no light for internet” or “when I go to the cyber café later”.

Although I had an allowance from my father, it wasn’t necessarily sufficient to attend interviews and meet my other needs especially as most interviews were in Lagos and I lived in Abuja at some point so flying back and forth was too expensive. Not once, twice or even thrice, I would take the night bus services to Lagos, arrive in the early hours of the morning, sleep briefly in a friend’s house and then proceed for my interview, appearing as bright eyed and bushy tailed as I could manage, and sometimes have to take the night bus back to Abuja. In hindsight, it was foolish and somewhat risky but then it seemed like my only option.

Long story short, it took 8 agonizing months to get a job. I guess the hustle paid off because at the point I decided to go with the offer from the Big 4 firm, I had 2 other offers from equally sound companies, which was all on merit as I did not know anybody. Eventually, I got my first role which was in consulting and was also a very demanding role. I stayed in that role for about a year and that year gave me a lot of exposure to varied industries and the opportunity to engage senior management in those industries. I also had to travel around Nigeria for assignments and meet seemingly impossible deadlines but that served to make me more resilient.

Those must have been very trying times indeed. Moving on, can you tell us about your current role in Nigeria?
I work in Corporate Affairs, with British American Tobacco (BAT) in Lagos. Being that I work in a highly controversial industry, I directly support the drive to maximise regulatory knowledge, opportunities and quality of information through the provision of credible fact-based advocacy on Tobacco Control and related issues. I also work on maintaining an area-wide (West Africa Area) view of the regulatory status, providing directional input to regulatory engagement and external communication, ensuring that BAT is established as a trusted partner of regulators and a leading authority on tobacco control issues across Nigeria.

That definitely sounds interesting and challenging and leads us to ask how you have found the move back? Highs and lows?
The highs for me include being in familiar albeit stressful territory, meeting my husband, quick access to my friends (without burning Lycamobile credit), Nkwobi, Cold Stone creamery ice cream and Glover Court Suya! The lows are that I miss my immediate family a lot as they reside in the UK and I miss out on their lives. The occasional frustration with the bottle necks and bureaucracy in Nigeria which we are all familiar with: a different day, a different devil. I also miss shopping online, sales, the malls and the relative ease of getting things done in a structured environment.

Do you have any particular work-related challenges? And how have you dealt with these challenges?
Working in a multinational whose culture is largely international, tolerant and even open to embracing people’s differences certainly helps me feel better about my move back, so there is no particular major challenge that threatens me. I like that the Nigerian ‘parapo’ is not evident, assuming it exists and I feel like I’m in an environment where I can contribute, work hard and air my views without the fear of being witch-hunted. I also do not fear that because I do not belong to a particular ethnic group or race, I cannot rise in my career. In dealing with challenges, I try to step back from the situation and ascertain if I could have done things differently, seeking out assistance from a trusted senior colleague to determine how I could have done things and then work on improving the situation.

Sounds like a balanced and measured approach. On a different note, have you had to make any lifestyle changes since moving back?
Not particularly. I am more of a home body, as long as I have a good book and/or music, light at home (otherwise, I open the window for fresh air) and ice cream, then I’m good to go! However, I do go for the occasional clubbing or karaoke and I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

You certainly seem to have hit the ground running. Finally, do you have any final tips or words of advice for people potentially considering a similar move?
Oh yes, I have quite a few! Life is tough in general and in Nigeria, life is tougher, especially if you are without the trappings of wealth. Be prepared to tough it out on your own. Don’t be surprised when all the uncles and aunties who promised to find you a job stop picking your calls or replying your texts. Nothing is promised to you, no one owes you anything. Leave any sense of entitlement on the plane once you land at Murtala Mohammed International Airport or Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Nigeria is a jungle, only the strong survive.

Respect yourself. The rules in this part of the world are different. If you are not in the position to be a rule maker, abide by the rules in the playbook. Don’t engage the police and Lastma in unnecessary scuffles. The money you would most likely use to get yourself out of trouble can be channeled to other needs.

Finally, have a support system. It could be friends who are also job hunting, people to fall back on who can encourage you and keep rooting for you. At times I doubted whether I made the right decision to move back thinking perhaps I should have stayed behind but looking back now, I can undoubtedly say I made the right decision. I believe whatever side of the fence you’re on, you’ll have to work hard! Whatever you decide, all the best!

Many thanks for your time and best wishes moving forward.

___________________________________________________________________________
The  primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly  interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section. For more information and further inquiries, please contact titi.owoyemi@movebacktonigeria.com.

28 Comments on Move Back to Nigeria: “Life is Tough in General & In Nigeria, Life is Tougher!” Enarime Mueller Shares Her Tips on How to Get Back Into the Swing of Things
  • That African Chic September 27, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Personification of success=hardwork +persistence

  • dare to be beautiful September 27, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I lost interest reading half way ……… Girl how do u limit yourself based on other people experience. I quote
    “I felt my chances would be better in Nigeria as I had seen people who had been in the UK and still had not landed the kind of jobs we all wanted”…….. SMH , what kind of statement is that , because other failed that means you wont get . You dont even try and see if yours will be different . Gosh , I hate such mindset . NEVER LIMIT YOURSELF IN LIFE.

    Glad it worked out for u , after 8 months . I didnt read the story any further because that just put me off.

    • oma September 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      she is just being realistic, a lot of Nigerians who study abroad go with the mindset that they will definitley get a job in a fortune 500 company. i know a lot of people who are stuck abroad becuse they are looking for job and now their visas are expired. As much as we all want have FAITH and a case of “my story will be different” GETTING JOBS ABROAD ESPECIALLY AS A FOREIGNER IS VERY HARD!!!

      • MissT September 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        Is it Nigeria that you will definitely get a job in a fortune 500 company ???? ……. It is hard everywhere to get a job now. Only difference is that for most in Nigeria you have a FREE roof over your head so less pressure abt bills . If she had put the same effort in the UK , it is possible she would have gotten something . OTHERS HAVE MADE IT SO SHE WONT BE THE FIRST OR THE LAST . As the first comment said, limiting urself based on others experience is just silly

    • zsa zsa September 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      What about the part where she states she had people to support and not having money for HM revenue? i quite understand why she made the choice to return, i might have done same in her position. I am the oldest of 5 and money no too dey house, my focus has been how to support my siblings without compromising. Good for her.

    • Hily October 12, 2013 at 6:55 am

      Thank you very much. During my studies in the UK, lots of people told me not to bother about getting a job with my Post a study work visa. They told me I will never be employed with the two year visa, most cited their experiences, even those who had made distinctions in their masters degrees and were still struggling to get jobs. I was also told not to bother with the big firms and apply to only the small firms but I was determined and surprise!!! Not only did I get a job with a top 10 country in the world on my post study visa, this same company sponsored a work permit for me. I am now married and settled here now. You are YOU!! Do not make decisions based on the experiences of others,

  • Wale September 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

    She wasn’t out of the country long enough to warrant a move back essay. I think seven to ten years should be the threshold. Long enough for the shock to impact ones perspective.

    • mary September 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      I am with you on this…….This is the typical story of everyone life after school, trying and hustling to get a job…Most people home and away have the stories of how many months it took them to get a job and the tremendous effort that went into it . I moved from America to London , i can write a book on how i successfully got a job after 5months and the many “we want uk experience” i heard from recruiters . Stuck with it and got a well paying job.

      i still pounder: How can one year masters be moving back to nigeria.

    • Kia September 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      I agree totally.

    • Person September 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      I agree!!!

      • naughty boy September 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm

        the whole point of the article is misleading….the title should just say “how I got a job after studying”…

        please we are looking for people who have worked abroad…should be a mandatory attribute..

        however I respect her story..xoxo

    • naughty boy September 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      the whole point of the article is misleading….the title should just say “how I got a job after studying”…

      please we are looking for people who have worked abroad…should be a mandatory attribute..

      however I respect her story..xoxo

    • Demola October 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you so much for that statement – i was a little confuse when i read the article as well – she was only gone for a year or two? try living in the U.S. for 15 years and then move back to that jungle – thats the real story i want to hear about. However, i’m not knocking her struggles – it sounds like she went thru a lot

  • yinka September 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Hardworking woman! very inspiring

  • Amaka September 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Hard work and persistence is truly all that matters in achieving your goals.

  • Tess September 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Wow and wow!!! You are so real! Infact this is the best “Move back to Nigeria” story I have read. Most Nigerians who school abroad do not live there, they went for a postgraduate degree. So your story is really relevant and encouraging. Just like you said, hardwork is needed regardless of the side of the fence one is staying. Oftentimes people get deceived thinking as soon as they come back with their foreign degrees, doors will open left, right and centre for them, that somehow their degree makes them entitled to getting multinational jobs. Thank you so much for your real story, it will help many people indeed to have realistic expectations and not give up easily when things don’t go their way and at their timing. All the best dear!

  • mdevaan September 27, 2013 at 11:43 am

    hard work pays jor thank God you found your footing! much love

  • ify September 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Thank u so much. Mine took 9mths after returning from my postgraduate studies. Your story is exactly like mine and yes you deserve to tell your story cos pple need to understand that having a foreign degree does nt guarantee you a job although it may give you an advantage.Would like to knw hw long you stayed at your first place of employment?

  • vivaladee September 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    This is the first time that I have read a realistic and balanced viewpoint on the challenges associated with returning to and searching for employment in Nigeria. I can relate to over 90% of what she’s said with the exception that I was unable to land a job similar to what she eventually found. Kudos to you though, I am sure this article will help others thinking of moving back home in the future.

  • ada September 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    This is really funny! bella naija she only spent 2years in the uk shes been in Nigeria all her life except for the break to school for masters please what transition is she then talking about

  • THEISOKOGIRL September 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I guess that’s why some people are still “poundering” HEHEHEHEHEE .Life outside Nigeria isn’t all that.If you want moving back to Nigeria stories please go spend 10 years then come write an article for us.

  • Uyi September 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I think the move back to Nigeria stories should apply to everybody whether you moved 10 or 20 years ago or you left a year or 2 ago. The intent of the series has been defined for readers. I particularly like this story because it is as sincere as it could get so it can appeal to people who are about to make a decision as to whether to stay back or return after school. The story said it all. Thanks Enarime

  • newbie September 28, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Now this bit had me confused……… “I felt my chances would be better in Nigeria as I had seen people who had been in the UK and still had not landed the kind of jobs we all wanted. The people that had good jobs were a dime a dozen….”

    Did she perchance mean ‘few and far between’? If they were a dime a dozen, surely she should have been one of the several dozen, no?

    • Mz Socially Awkward... September 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Regarding the confusion … You and me both, friend. But I think we got her eventual point…

  • Hmmm September 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

    “Nigeria is a jungle, only the strong survive” i say this all the time & UK beginning to seem like the survive of the fittest type ish! God dey!

  • e2nudatruthdiva October 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    i am sooo encouraged…….but really bella it is time we have testimonies of some of us that cldnt afford to go bag the so prestigious UK/US….ETC Masters…..We need real-life encouragement from those that stayed in the jungle called Nigeria and are at the top of their careers….i beg not music,fashion or social talking careers oh…i mean real careers….God bless bellanaija!!!!

  • Mesh October 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Finished Bsc in 07 did Her NYSC in 08,then moved to UK for her masters…there is really no big deal in this story,it’s just the typical stuff that opportuned young graduate do…

  • Ephi November 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    There’s been so much debate on who or who doesn’t qualify to be considered for a “Move back to Nigeria” article, I think it’s up to BellaNaija to clarify that.
    Re: the poster, she definitely kept it real and was honest with her experiences. Kudos to her.

  • Post a comment