Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims 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.
Movebacktonigeria.com‘s mission is to showcase stories of Nigerians abroad who have moved back home and are taking giant strides, often against all odds and to serve as inspiration to others. This, however does not preclude us from sharing stories of the people who have moved back and are facing various challenges.
This week, Uzo Obichere, lawyer and blogger shares her experiences since moving back. The difficulties she’s faced and how she’s choosing to overcome them. Read on to find out more.
Let’s begin with introductions. Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
My name is Uzo Ada Temitope Obichere. I am a lawyer with expertise in banking and foreign investments, oil and gas contracts, and arbitration. I recently moved back to Nigeria after nearly 3 years of living in the UK.
Tell us a bit about your educational background.
I attended Igbinedion Secondary School in Benin after which I attended Igbinedion University then moved on to Law school in Lagos. I served in Lagos for my NYSC at Chief Rotimi Williams Chambers and went ahead to work with UBA in the legal department while waiting to finalize arrangements for my postgraduate degree.
How was your experience working with UBA?
It was fantastic! Admittedly, working at UBA was stressful for me physically but I enjoyed the job. At Rotimi Williams, it was not as stressful but Rotimi Williams was a core litigation law firm and I am not as interested in litigation as I am in soliciting/corporate commercial practice, so, it was a bit difficult. Whereas at UBA, I always looked forward to work the next day.
At what point did you leave Nigeria?
After working with UBA for a year, I went to the UK to undertake a Masters degree at Durham University, graduating with a degree in International Trade and Commercial Law with core focus on banking and foreign investments. After graduation, I moved to London and got a job at Abraham George ILP Camden – London an Immigration Law Practice, where I worked for about 3-4 months as a legal assistant offering legal advice through my prior legal experience, drafting letters and attending different meetings. It was a pro bono work and so when the time came for me to move on to another job, my transition was easy and I moved on to work with Sky. Sky had training sessions for new employees from 2-9pm daily and Abraham would allow me work from 8am to about 1pm, giving me enough time to make it to my training session. I worked on several roles with Sky within a 6 month time frame, including as a social media consultant, editor and also as an assistant to the supervisor. After that, I moved back to Nigeria.
Why did you move back?
I came back because my parents wanted me back in Nigeria. They felt Nigeria had more opportunities for me given my results, work experience and profession. In England, I would have had to take several certification exams (which were expensive) to be able to practice as a lawyer whether at a firm or in-house. Furthermore, even though SKY offered to apply for a work permit for me, the existing Immigration Law (newly changed) wasn’t going to make it a breeze so I declined their offer under pressure from my folks to come back home.
How long have you been in Nigeria and what has been your experience?
I have been in Nigeria for about 10 months. Since my return, I have applied to several companies and think I have even run out of companies to apply to. Companies that would even consider hiring me often say they cannot afford to pay me. I think that some Nigerian SME employers are often intimidated by graduates who went to school abroad and only big organizations feel they can hire such graduates. I was away from Nigeria for about 3 years and the unexpected culture shock for me was overwhelming. The way businesses were run was so much different from what I had been used to. People were so aggressive compared to where I was coming from. We all know so much is constantly being said about the infrastructural and lifestyle challenges at home. Some things do get special mention though such as Customer service and Electricity. Until you actually live somewhere else, you don’t get to see the flaws, little basic things such as garbage disposal services that do not work properly in Nigeria.
What has come of your numerous job applications so far?
I’m still waiting for a positive response from the companies I applied to. I found out quickly from personal experience that the majority of positions advertised by companies are positions that have already been filled months prior. So it feels like most of the time you are just throwing your CV into quick sand.
Do you intend to keep applying, or plan to explore other career options?
Right now I am still job searching but I have also began legal consulting. I review and draft financial contracts; as a legal consultant on contracts if you will. A lot of times people get into contracts without really knowing what exactly they are getting into. I firmly believe that something more stable like a day to day job would come up in the near future but in the meantime, I consult and run my own blog which chronicles my passion for menswear and Arsenal FC; it is called Misterspruce.co.uk.
Is it safe to say that you are back to Nigeria for good despite your labor-market challenges?
Global immigration rules particularly in the UK, have become so stringent that I presently do not see anything that would pull me out of Nigeria. Also, being a lawyer also makes relocation a little more of a challenge as the profession can be quite region-limiting.
On a different note, have there been any positives to your move back to Nigeria?
There have indeed been a lot of positives for me moving back with regards to my family. I used to be an only child but my parents recently adopted two kids and I am now close enough to be able to watch them grow. They are my rays of sunshine for whenever I start to feel down or despondent.
If you had known what you know now after being back for 10 months, would you have moved back?
No. Not without a concrete job offer or a viable entrepreneurial plan.
On a final note, based on your personal experiences, what would you advice other Nigerians who may be considering the move back?
Do not make the move back without having a job in place, let there be a job waiting for you before you return. If you are interested in entrepreneurship, make sure the necessary structures are in place before you take the leap.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.