Connect with us


#SMW Lagos 2014: Exploitative Returnees or Nigeria’s Saviours



Nigeria, and the city of Lagos in particular, is a central hub in the reverse brain drain to the African Continent. With the hopes of “Africa rising,” juxtaposed with the harsh realities of challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, bureaucratic hurdles, and the infamous “Naija factor,” a move back to Nigeria can either be an ocean of opportunity or treacherous waters. This presents an amazing opportunity to foster a collaborative community of returnees and Africans at home, where they can share experiences and lessons learned on how to make the smoothest transition.

For the returning diaspora, the move back home to Nigeria can be hard to navigate. At Social Media Week Lagos this month, we hope to make the seemingly impossible transition a little bit easier. Vote or Quench and will host “I Just Got Back! Building Bridges for the Nigerian Diaspora“, an interactive panel discussion and cocktail hour. A featured event, the panel will spotlight a diverse and dynamic panel of young, trailblazing “I Just Got Backs” who are finding their way and leaving their footprints for everyone else ready to take the plunge. The piece below explores an oft-ignored aspect of the ‘IJGB’ conversation. Read on and share your thoughts in the comments box!
“I think the government is making a terrible mistake in making it so easy for people like that to have a so-called university education. Education for what? To get as much as they can for themselves and their family. Not the least bit interested in the millions of their countrymen who die everyday from hunger and disease.”

These were the exact words of Mr. Green, the short-tempered and irascible English civil servant who was working in Nigeria during colonial rule. He frequently expressed his inability to comprehend the duplicitous nature of the Nigerian mentality. These so-called patriots, punch their fists in the air, throw their heads back and cry for independence whilst their respective interactions with society, implicitly denotes a sheer disregard for the wider prosperity of their nation. Anybody who has read Chinua Achebe’s ‘No Longer at Ease’ will be familiar with Mr. Green. Though he is a fictional character, his aforementioned observation is far from fictitious.

Each year, thousands of Nigerians make the decision to move back home to either look for employment or set up businesses. Whilst success is not guaranteed, those who are yet to relocate are overwhelmed with evidence of the abundance of life back home: “Nwanne, if you see Chiedozie now eh!! His business is booming!” – “O boy, come and check out Dayo and his brand new Range Rover, it can only be God!” Behind these well-known promulgations is a deeply frustrated individual, tired of the futility of life in a foreign country and ready to hop on the cheapest flight back home. As they step out of Murtala Muhammed airport with their excess luggage, they inhale the sweet air and envision an inordinate amount of opportunities. They rub their palms together in anticipation. They are ready. Ready to join the herd of returnees who will turn a blind eye to the insufficiencies of our glorious motherland, as they embark on the relentless pursuit of prosperity.

It is incredible how we intoxicate ourselves with statistics about our impressive economic growth rates, and switch off when it is time to discuss the reported 63% of Nigerians living below $1 daily. Poverty is rife in Nigeria but do not fear! The Returnees are here! They will swoop in and save the day with the years of knowledge and experience they have accumulated abroad. They will pave the way towards a better, prosperous Nigeria and they will… Ok. Enough of the fantasy.

The reality is that many of these pirates who are fortunate enough to unearth the hidden treasure, will indulge in holidays abroad and pump extortionate funds into foreign economies. As they dine in Central London, they are immune to the unremitting hunger that torments many back home. This is exactly what trusty, old Mr. Green was alluding to; foreign degree holders unmoved by the fact many still cannot afford basic primary school education; individuals who have worked for years in the energy sector abroad, joining in the condemnation of NEPA without offering their expertise. They begrudgingly mumble something to their house-help about ‘the generator’ before turning the television back on. Able to escape the problems, they sit back and fold their arms. Biko, inform the rest of us, how has Nigeria benefitted from your return?

It is absolutely treasonous to profit from Nigeria without investing back into society. This does not mean donating a suitcase full of pencils to the failing school in your village. Whilst these well-meaning displays of altruism are commendable, it is time we concern ourselves with long-term solutions. You want to return to Nigeria to start a business? Great! But how is it solving a wider problem? Are you into Finance? Fantastic! How can you explore the emergence of ‘impact investing’ to ensure that you generate a measurable social impact alongside financial return? Money is great but life is ultimately about finding ways to feed back into the wider community; it is not a matter of choice, but one of duty.

This is an inflated account of the activities taking place amongst the returning Nigerian diaspora. It is true that a number of individuals are already finding innovative ways to bring about change, but this should be the rule rather than the exception. As you step out of Murtala Muhammed airport with your hopes afloat, forget about the sweet air and prepare yourself for battle. Irrespective of where you live, as Nigerians, we are all engaged in a ferocious war. In the fight against inexplicable corruption, poverty and civil unrest, we have been positioned in the front line. There is absolutely nothing wrong with striving to attain success upon your return; this inborn tenacity is synonymous with the Nigerian spirit. It is easy to be swept away by Chiedozie and his “booming business”, or the bespoke interior in Dayo’s Range Rover but as well as the desire to personally prosper from the Nigerian landscape, let us return with an uncompromising determination to build solutions, create jobs, and prove Mr. Green wrong.

Arise, O Repatriates,
Nigeria’s call obey!

Talk About It: #smwIJGB #smwlagos. Register Now to RSVP {Click Here}

Photo Credit:
____________________________________________________________________________________________ is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living abroad. The primary objective of is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice, property & investments, and much more.

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 Follow us on Twitter @mbtnglobal and Instagram @mbtnglobal


Star Features