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Move Back To Nigeria: “It Requires Passion, Strong Desire & Absolute Decision” Abayomi Magbagbeola, Shares His Experience with Innovation in The Public Sector

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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.

Move Back To Nigeria is exploring a new chapter with the feature on Abayomi Magbagbeola. Abayomi is the the Special Assistant to the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Budget & Research in the House of Representatives, Abuja.

He explores in detail, his journey so far, with particular emphasis on his experiences of The Finnish Welfare System and his aspirations, which involve human capital development and transferring such concepts to Nigeria. Read on for an enlightening foray into the world of human development and sustainable growth.

Thanks for speaking with us. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Abayomi Magbagbeola and I am the Special Assistant to the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Budget & Research in the House of Representatives, Abuja. I was born and bred in Nigeria, where I lived and had my early education and then tertiary education at the University of Lagos, studying microbiology.

When and why did you leave?
I left Nigeria in quite interesting circumstances. My godparents were members of the Lions Club and my godmother who along with other Nigerian women attended an International women’s conference in Finland in 2000. She subsequently facilitated a youth exchange program with Finland, which I, along with 13 other youths, took part in. I was a 3rd year undergraduate at the time and it interested me because it was an unusual destination and I loved the experience. I then decided to return to Finland after my 4-year studies in Unilag to start a life and that’s where I eventually lived for 10 years.

Tell us more about that
I was very interested in the fact that Finland as a welfare state, placed a premium on human capital development & standard of living. So I decided to undergo some sort of career change with this sector in view, taking another undergraduate degree in Health & Social Sciences with majors in Demography and Gerontology at the Arcada University of Applied Science, Finland. I developed some competence in Finnish and simultaneously worked in their health and social services department in the City of Helsinki. Afterwards, I went to the Baltic Business School, Kalmar University, Sweden to study for a Master of Science in Business Administration in Leadership & Management, in International Context with majors in Strategic management and human development.

This is all very interesting. So what happened next?
During my MScBA, I realised I was interested in the concept of sustainability cum sustainable development and so upon graduation from the MScBA, I returned to Finland and began exploring my interests in nurturing talent within a conducive environment, allowing people maximise their potential and this took me out of health and social services into mainstream management, developing communities for sustainability, improving the services being rendered to the people, eventually leading me to join forces with like minds and set up a firm, Adam Brooks Consulting.

This concept of human development, could you please explore for us in detail?
The Nordic model, which is what I’m familiar with, offers a holistic approach to life and prioritises the development of the human mind above and beyond everything else. Because this undoubtedly affects and increases economic interaction, innovation, technological advancements etc. My degree also explored the use of art as a means of expression and development, philosophy and management in this regard as well. I have always highly recommended the program for youths from developing countries, as the long term effects are beneficial to the society.

Thanks! How then did your professional life take off?
At Adam Brooks Consulting, we were involved in human capital development, travel and tourism as a tool for socio-economic development, cross-cultural communications, nurturing talent and so on. We were basically trying to build a bridge between the Nordic culture and several other cultures existing in Finland. In addition to my work and life in Finland, I had a stint at the Royal College of Arts, London and The NHS Haringey Trust which was enlightening for me as the differences in both welfare States were stark.

How so?
The Nordic approach ensures a fundamental right to living, basic access to high quality;  prompt healthcare (heavily subsidised by the State); social support; high unemployment benefits; up to 2 years maternity leave for mums; state provision of child care; preventative healthcare, and much more. Afterwards, I went back to Finland and began exploring ways to transferring my skills to Nigeria.

Which brings us to your move home. Things seemed to have been going well for you, what then inspired your return to Nigeria?
My family was back home and I had also always nurtured my ties to Nigeria, knowing that eventually, I would be back home to play my role. I also happened to be involved in some research of the Nigerian healthcare system, particularly in Northern Nigeria. It was a jolting experience for me, so I knew I had to decide my future: stay in Finland where things were developed, or go to Nigeria, where I could come contribute my quota. So I started my move back process to Nigeria in October 2010 and finally relocated in June 2011.

How did you find the move?
It became apparent that my annual 4 week trips did not really show me the true picture of things. Things had changed and oddly enough, I felt somewhat of an outsider as there was some sort of culture shock. The noise, traffic, crowds were all jarring compared to the tranquility I had been used to. So after 6months, I went back to Finland to better prepare myself mentally to return. Then I had the opportunity to work with someone in a leadership position (public office) in the person of Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Esq. which I thought would give me the necessary platform to share my ideas and all I had learnt in my time away. Hon. Bamidele is a strong believer in youth development and nurturing young leaders so I appreciate greatly the opportunity he has given me to work with him.

Was your first role upon your return?
Yes, in a way. In addition to that, I had earlier partnered with the Lagos State Government, in facilitating co-operation between Local and State Governments in Nigeria and Finland as well as New Era Foundation, The Street Project Foundation and some other NGOs with Finnish NGOs. Finland at the time was looking to increase their presence in Nigeria and I was involved with that, before I then moved fully into my role as a Special Assistant to the Chairman, Committee on Legislative Budget & Research, House of Representatives.

Great! What exactly does your current role entail?
First and foremost, my role entails providing the needed assistance in the area of human capital development; developing viable communities through programmes and projects. These projects aim to improve the standard of living of citizens in the constituency and the underlying quality of life. My duties also include efficient operations in the office and its administration; constituency development assessment; strategy formulation; implementing the said concept of sustainable development in line with the Chairman’s vision for economic development of the people; and a host of other personal or collective responsibility as deemed fit. Considering the peculiarity of the Nigerian society, job descriptions often include many other responsibilities which make the job sometimes interesting, yet challenging and a test of your ability to adapt.

How have you adjusted to life in Abuja?
I would say fairly well, as I shuttle between Abuja, Lagos and Ekiti State which makes adjusting complex, considering the distinct nature of these states. Overall it is energy consuming, ability and temperament testing. However, for me it is also exciting as one’s life is never boring and always full of surprises. You may not know what will happen the next minute of the day. I am an adventurous person and although the spontaneity, energy, chaos in Nigeria can be overwhelming. I have adjusted better now compared to when I first moved. It’s also a bit of challenge juggling different languages- Finnish, Swedish, English and Yoruba and I still do miss the tranquility, structure, order and precision you find in developed countries.

Were there any particular challenges you faced while adjusting to the move back? And if yes, how did you overcome them?
There were a lot of challenges. I had to overcome the challenges of poor public transport system meaning, I sit behind the wheels for hours. Driving on the road is another adventure on its own, the non-availability of power (though it’s considerably better in Abuja) the high cost of living a decent life, and I must say, the poor service delivery in the service-oriented sector, and the manner of engagement of the police and other security agencies.

However, I don’t see them as challenges per se, but opportunities to engage and interact with others, share ideas and understand their stories which has been absolutely inspiring. In overcoming them, I had to be patient, subtly express my views, not imposing but in a suggestive manner with a smile and the usual “my oga I hail you” or other courteous expression that makes others feel human and relevant. I think what an average Nigerian needs is to be given recognition however small or mighty and I bet you, you’ll fairly have your way and get things done.

Another interesting challenge is the language change, having spoken a different language (Finnish and a bit of Swedish), using English nowadays is a lot of work in my head, translating my thought and opinion to correct English tenses. Weirdly, my Yoruba language knowledge is very much intact as if it was always in use.

Where do you see yourself long term? Politics maybe?
My ambition has always been to be a Diplomat, as an Ambassador (Ambassadorial posting which is one of the highpoint of a diplomat’s career). I am also an advocate of a mixed economy tending towards a welfare society, so I see myself nurturing my career in the public sector as my parents themselves retired from the public sector after successful careers as public servants.

I believe that change is made ‘with-in’, not ‘with-out’. A holistic change is often achieved through the public sector rather than the private sector. Politics? that’s a complex one, at the moment, I still want to stick to my passion; to be a technocrat cum humanitarian, as the political terrain in Nigeria isn’t for the sincere and honest ones. Even though I am in the centre of the polity, there’s still a lot of transparency and fairness needed for active engagement. On the long term though, It’d be a privilege to be fully political and vie for offices for the purpose of serving mankind. At the moment, I am learning the ropes.

And on a final note, do you have any advice for people who may be intending to move back?
First of all, anyone intending to move back should follow the “business plan model” that is, draw a SWOT analysis, be sure of what he or she wants or desires and be ready for a rollercoaster ride.
I encourage anyone and everyone to take a good thought before moving back because it is more than meets the eye. It requires passion, strong desire and absolute decision. There is also a strong need for support from trusted families and good networks to help with adapting and settling down in the first few months. I also recommend a trial (3months-in, 3months-out) that would help the gradual process of relocation as well as help in assessing one’s interest in moving back.

I also want to use the opportunity to commend MoveBackToNigeria as a veritable and needed platform bridging the gap between interest or dreams and the reality. A lot of people do not know how much they change or have been influenced by their host society until they visit or move back. Nigerians resident in the Nordic countries often find it impossible to move back due to the obvious changes they have undergone – be it in interaction, in perception or ways of doing things. I am like a case study for many more people in Scandinavia who are very skeptical about moving even when they desire greatly, hopefully I will turn out a success.

Finally, the essence of any moving forth and back should in a way add value to one person who in turn influences others and the society at large, so I’ll also encourage more returnees to enlist in the public sector as positive change takes place within.

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 [email protected]

MBTN helps Nigerian and African professionals from across the world connect with career and Investment opportunities. We also organise networking events, conferences and workshops that give you the required tools to get ahead in your career in Africa or elsewhere.Find out more at www.mbtnglobal.com. Follow us on Twitter @mbtnglobal and Instagram @mbtnglobal

32 Comments

  1. @edDREAMZ

    February 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Any piece set aside to encourage our youth in the right path sure makes a lot of sense…. Nice work
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN THE SUN***

    • Nanciejul

      February 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      How is the SUN? and how long have you been in the SUN?

  2. Nosey

    February 21, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I thought the real diasporans are those that have lived abroad nearly all their life!! Not those who studied up to to tertiary education and then came back after a couple of years. These kind of stories do not sound very realistic. The real move back stories are of those who were born and bred abroad and then come to Nigeria to start to build a life and its more interesting reading their challenges because you know its harder for them to adjust. With this guy he already had the connections, studied in Lag and so would not have found it hard at all to assimilate back into the system. Please some of these stories get as e be jare. Not convinced!

    • Newbie

      February 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      I beg to differ. The term ‘Move BACK’ indicates that you were once in Nigeria, left, and are now moving ‘BACK’. You can’t exactly be moving back if you were born and bred abroad, you would simply be moving ‘TO’ Nigeria. Whether or not Nigeria is your place of ethnic origin doesn’t matter, whether or not you have Nigerian citizenship doesn’t matter – the fact that you were not born and have not lived there for any significant period of time means you cannot claim to be moving ‘BACK’ as there’s no before and after to compare.

      Having said that, i do agree that when people go for say a 12-month Masters and go back home after their studies, it’s equally silly to say you’re ‘moving back’. Really – you’re just going home like a good citizen should lol! Again in such an instance, the changes to get yoused to, thte adjustments to be made aren’t that significant.

    • slice

      February 22, 2014 at 2:05 am

      but he lived in Finland for 10years. at least i think that’s what the article states.

    • OgeAdiro

      February 23, 2014 at 3:16 am

      How many people born and bred abroad do you know that want to go and start afresh in Naija? Most kids born and bred outside of Naija don’t think of themselves as Nigerians so there’s really no urge for them to move to Nigeria. Those stories like you said, might be more interesting but they’ll be mostly irrelevant to our times.

    • Na me

      February 23, 2014 at 3:32 am

      Thank you! Well said. Though I was the only one that felt that way

    • Sandi

      February 23, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you. I honestly want to read stories of people who came back and had to START. I guess it’ll help me feel better, like I’m not alone or something. I keep reading of people who finished University here and had a set network. What about those of us who have to START from scratch and BUILD networks? I want to read about them. I want to be inspired and know that ok you can come and START because my family is telling me to abandon Nigeria and return to where I have network and don’t have to start building.

  3. kevin

    February 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Not bad.. but not too interesting as others …

    • John de Beloved

      February 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      I am telling you, i nearly slept. But he seems very Professional, and thats good.

  4. nike

    February 21, 2014 at 10:41 am

    But he lived outside the country for 10 years nah. So that does not qualify for moving back… thats what the series is about people moving BACK HOME and not necessarily people born and bred outside the country. If that was the case i think the series would be called people with naija heritage MOVING TO or Emigrating.
    Much love xx

    • Nosey

      February 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

      I agree he was away for 10 years, but from all indications its obvious he had all the right contacts before he left, he lived here up to university which in itself is enough to know and be accustomed to the Nigerian way. It would have been much more easier for him to settle in no doubt. The previous articles on ‘returnees’ are more convincing as most are starting from scratch have no connections or ‘god parents’ linked to one club or the other, barely speak the language, not used to the crappy infrastructure etc… I’m just not inspired at all because I know he has had it much easier compared to others. But each to their own sha, kudos to him for what he has achieved and for the exposure he has gained. But I still would love to see more realistic stories in future. Well done BN!!

    • nike

      February 21, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Yeah fair enough if u didnt find it inspiring. You are entitled to ur opinion I was just making a point about how long he was away for. Im glad you made u reasserted ur position without being rude though.

    • Newbie

      February 21, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Gbam! you read my mind and posted before me. Pity, I should have read your comment before posting, I wouldn’t have needed to!

  5. FunkyW

    February 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

    🙂 Thanks for sharing

  6. my love

    February 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I LOVE this.

  7. Mariaah

    February 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Now this is the move back home story! Come on, he lived abroad for 10 years, spoke two languages constantly. Heck! he even finds it strange speaking English.. Awww..

    He may have had connections but he utilized it to his advantage. I’ve met well connected people who just want crumbs dropped at their feet.

    P.s I have no affiliation with Mr. Magbagbeola well, except you want to take into consideration the fact that we breathe the same Abuja air 😀

    • Nosey

      February 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Oh definitely he done well! And like I said, Kudos to him for utilising to his advantage his connections. However compared to other move back stories especially for those without the relevant connections or the experience of growing up in Nigeria, its easy to take this one with a pinch of salt. There are thousands of Nigerians who go abroad for second degrees and masters and then come back to claim they have ‘moved back’ and then rush to give us their unconvincing stories of ‘hardship’ when they came back….’Yawn’

  8. wendy

    February 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I noticed two trends in this move back to niaja stories.

    1. They are mostly in Europe.
    2. Most of them are Yorubas..

    Am i missing something?

    • Nosey

      February 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      You obviously haven’t been following the series then. There has been a good mixture of tribes featured. However, does it matter? Is that all you see and is that all that matters to you? Why do people see things along the tribal lines? God help our country when all people tend to focus on are our irrelevant tribal differences!!!!

  9. jcsgrl

    February 21, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Hmnn this boy/guy that broke my friends heart! He’s quite charming though and driven. I can see him getting the ambassadorial position in the future

    • Nat

      February 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      So was that necessary for you to say? He broke your friend’s heart and so, how does that relate to the discussion/article? All this unnecessary famzing tho *YAWNS*

  10. BabyDee

    February 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Oga\Missus Nosey, who made you class captain now? Abi how many times do you want to post? Anyways, carry on.
    @the MoveBack article, we all know, even those of us in diaspora that you do not get a public service job especially one as a “special assistant” based on your qualification. It’s all about who you know. So bros, biko come tell us the real way you landed the job because all of that is cleverly missing from the write up.
    Thanks in advance.
    ***wrapper around chest, chewing stick in mouth, returning back from the stream….
    -BabyDee

  11. Concerned_Boyfriend

    February 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    This is very inspiring. Reading stories of folks like Mr Magbagbeola underscores the wealth of human capital we have in Nigeria and if given the chance and opportunity would transform the nation. I’m shortlisting this man into my team. Please BN, kindly provide contacts for Mr Magbagbeola – twitter, facebook or instagram.

    Thanks.

  12. Olori Tari

    February 21, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Love love this. He seems like a ‘go getter’ kind of guy. Gotta love how driven he is.

  13. Mide

    February 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    He is a good friend of mine and has been for years……. he is a go getter, determined, focused, very respectful and loyal. He had no connections ( maybe a few friends from university) whatsoever when he came back and started from the scratch. It is all hard work and God’s Grace….

    • NaijaPikin

      February 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      But he clearly mentioned he had connects. So why do voltron and talk about things you don’t know about just to claim he is a friend.

  14. Online13

    February 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

    oh please Mide, dont tell us that. i was also in Finland and his connection or godmother i know well.

    Check out profile of Mrs Tinubu and her Finland connections.

  15. Tee

    February 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    what happened to the project in Lagos? I can’t seem to see any concrete outcome of all the projects or is it just me or maybe BN forgot to ask concrete questions.All I see is celebrating exposure,connections and C.V job spec copied verbatim to make the conversation relevant.What have you achieved since you got back in terms of projects not positions.

    • meg

      February 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      thank you very much. you pretty much summed it all up

  16. Nosey

    February 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you very much! You more or less summed up what I was thinking. But knowing some people here, they will call you bad belle for asking such logical and probing questions.

    And all those saying he didnt have connections (Mide), did you read the article at all? He went on and on about them!

  17. why

    February 25, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Loved it!

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