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Move Back to Nigeria: “What Nigeria Needs is Nigerians” Chioma Agu Shares Her Move Back Story

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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.

Born and raised in America, Chioma Agu shares her journey discovering Nigeria and explores her experiences in her homeland as well as discussing her business concerns and future aspirations, all with a palpable sense of positivity.

Thanks for speaking with us. Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Chioma Agu. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. I recently moved back to Nigeria and currently reside in Abuja, where I work as a business consultant and also own a business.

Can you take us briefly through your educational background?
Sure. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and thereafter continued my education at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, where I earned a law degree in business law and entrepreneurialism. I studied law because I always wanted to be a lawyer and English I studied because I just had a natural flair for the subject area. However, while I was in law school, I found that my interest within the legal field was really in business and entrepreneurialism, so at that point I catered my course work to business law and entrepreneurialism and now I work as a business consultant.

What came next? Did you go straight into the labor market and how did your professional life begin?
I graduated from law school and I came straight to Nigeria.

Really?
Yes. Really.

Tell us about that?
I always had a passion for the country and I had a passion for investing in the country. I felt like the period after law school was the best time for me to explore life in Nigeria and to create a career from my experiences.

My journey here has been a positive one thus far. Ultimately, I hope that my story inspires other Nigerians in the diaspora to consider Nigeria in their life’s plans.

How did your family take the news that you were moving to Nigeria?
They loved it! My family is very supportive. They are my backbone, my biggest cheerleaders, and the reason that I am still here.

How did the ‘move back’ process start and what inspires your passion for Nigeria?
Ok. Well, first when I decided to move, I chose Abuja because it was the capital and just seemed ideal for professional growth. I also started reaching out to people that I know who used to live in Atlanta but now live in Abuja. I asked them questions like where and how to find a place to live, and they assisted me.

So you reached out, you networked and then you moved to Nigeria 7 months ago.
Yes.

What were your first impressions and how did you start to integrate?
The first few months in the country were quite emotional. It took me a while to settle in. I had to think fast and learn fast as not only was I learning my way around, I was learning the culture, the lifestyle of the people, how the Nigerian labor market operates and much more. Admittedly, it was a lot to deal with at once.

So you moved to Abuja with nowhere to live and no job lined up, how did your story change?
Well God is good to me. I was employed by a multinational corporation. I just walked in and asked the human resources officer if they were hiring. She said yes, interviewed me, and I was hired.

Can you like to tell us about your current role?
I work as a business consultant, dealing with those who have aspirations for opening a business and we help them in a step by step process: from securing finances to developing business plans and business proposals to maximizing their fullest potential. We also offer business classes, certification and more for our clients. In addition, we serve as financial advisors for multinational corporations and banks.

On a different note, how is life in Abuja?
Abuja is very beautiful and the people are very diverse. There is the immigrant factor as people come from all over the world to make a home and living there. What I find is that most people who move back usually prefer to go to Abuja as the infrastructure works better. Abuja is less populated so it is more sane than Lagos for example.

Would you say that this is a long term move and you are in Nigeria for good?
I am exploring the country.

Are there any particular challenges you faced and how did you manage them and stay focused on your dreams?
I have faced many challenges, but I was able to manage them by practicing patience and by remaining prayerful. Patience is key because I am learning a new culture and a new society.

Nigerians in the diaspora talk about inconveniences associated with living here, like no power supply, a less organized infrastructure, and etc. However, I think that if you just remember that you are no longer in the U.K, or the U.S, then a natural aura of patience will overtake you.

Nigeria can be a really expensive place. Did you find this to be true?
Yes, it is very expensive. The cost of living is something to take into consideration when planning a move back as it can almost certainly truncate plans.

What are your plans for the long term in Nigeria particularly?
I aspire to own several businesses in Nigeria. Currently, I own one and an NGO. I own a boutique called Chioma’s Closet that specialises in pearl beaded jewellery and accessories. My favorite project, however, is my NGO called the Agu Foundation, Inc. My siblings and I started it 4 years ago in order to help relieve financial burdens faced in obtaining an education. We started by giving book scholarships to Nigerian American youths that have demonstrated academic excellence and consistent involvement in the community. This year AFI has added to its emphasis on education and community service by partnering with local orphanages in Abuja to host read-a-thon events with the orphans. Volunteers meet at the orphanages each week to read with the children, color, play, and etc. We use the books to instill a moral and educational foundation in the children, and thereby allowing them to be responsible adult members of society. Additionally, we hope to remind them that they are not forgotten, but rather valuable and loved members of the community.

Finally, what would your advice be to those who may be considering moving back?
I would say to do whatever feels right to you. When I decided to move back, people thought I was crazy but it felt right to me and has thankfully worked out so far. I have always felt that Nigeria does not necessarily need foreign assistance or aid, what Nigeria needs is Nigerians. Whilst the honest truth is that not everyone will move back to Nigeria and love it or make it, the overriding truth is that Nigeria needs Nigerians.

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

33 Comments

  1. Mz Socially Awkward...

    March 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Love the sound of the Agu Foundation and I think my sister may have told me about this girl and she’s been collecting books from Nigerians in the U.S. to ship home? Or maybe it’s not the same person. Well done, luv and more grace. I take it your NGO has a website?

  2. spicy

    March 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

    You just walked in, they were hiring, you were interviewed, and you were hired? Just like that? Wow! I guess it’s an Abuja thing because I know several of my London ppls – well educated and with vast work experience who are still looking for work in Lagos. And you straight out of law school with no work experience (I presume) gets hired like that! Lucky you! Abuja here I come lol

    • Sandi

      March 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      I’m moving to Abuja, re-strategising this ish. Work experience, MBA and I’m struggling to find work in this Lagos. Abeg Lagos is not a do or die affair. Exploring other places sharp sharp

    • Nominee

      March 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      My dear I saw that part too! I can also tell you for free its not an Abuja thing, I walked into millions of places when I was job hunting in Abuja in 2010, only difference is I didn’t have an oyibo degree, am not saying its all that was required, am just saying that the walk-in-hire isn’t the norm, it is the exception. The serious exception o! I dey tell you!

  3. vagrant

    March 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Its all fine and well until you’re kidnapped and the police tells your family that there’s nothing they can do. Or Abuja landlords start asking for 2 years rent in advance while your salary remains static. Everybody get boutique everybody be musician, I wonder whether that is Nigeria’s definition of progress. Better stay within the realms of civilization.

    • Sandi

      March 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Seriously this is not needed. Abuja happens to be the safest city in all of Africa, hence the reason why non-citizens are moving there too, I will soon join them by the grace of God.
      My Uncle was kidnapped and the police found him and freed him, his car was also stolen, again police found it. No he’s not a politician and not a top shot business man either. Just a regular man seriously

    • vagrant

      March 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Pay Abuja’s expensive rent first. Then tell me how you like it. The real work in Abuja is political or business by people who already have the money. If you’re thinking private sector will make you rich in Abuja, lol. You’ll probably end up working for your landlord. Unlike Lagos where you can go outside the Island and find cheaper accomodation, Abuja prices tend to be uniformly exhorbitant. 600k a year for self-contained, if you can live in that sort of accommodation. A decent one bedroom anywhere from 1.2 to 1.5 million. Look before you leap.

  4. Dr. N

    March 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Better pikin! drnsmusings.wordpress.com

  5. Mary Jane

    March 14, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Did you not have to do NYSC? Did the multi international company not request for your NYSC certificate? Or did they employ you as an expatriate? I think Move Back to Nigeria initiative is a good idea. However, the organisation needs to provide relevant information for us..like NYSC registration, is it mandatory for us? Process of registering for NYSC, do we need to register with our professional body (I.e. Doctor, Pharmarcist, etc) before we can practise or undertake NYSC? What is it like looking for job in Nigeria? How should one look for job search in Nigeria? While sharing people’s story is a good idea, I think there are gaps in the information that you provide to help some of us who are considering moving back home.

    • Bleed Blue

      March 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      PREACH!!!

    • vagrant

      March 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Looking for jobs in Nigeria is no walk in the park. Except you went to a top 5 foreign institution don’t expect to get a job without “connections”. Some jobs aren’t even announced. Others have been searching for years. And when you get the job, sometimes it doesn’t cover expenses after rent. If you’ve got family in Abuja or Lagos, cool, otherwise, don’t be in a rush.

    • Ready

      March 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Vagrant, I think Nigeria has made you beyond cynical, you’ve started making up stories. No, not every “returnee” in Nigeria with a job has connections, and went to a top 5 foreign institution. My 1st degree is from a small HBCU in the South, and my Master’s is from a very good school that’s not in the top 5 in its specialization. I failed at 2 big audit/consulting companies’ tests in Lagos, applied for another job in this same Lagos, got shortlisted, did a 5 hour test, did the interviews, and got the job.
      I know connections go a long way, I know an influential last name does a lot, I know Abuja-heck Lagos- is expensive. But you’re all over the comment section with a lot of negativity, and while I do not blame you because I understand that the move can be hard, I think there are some untruths in your comment that should be straightened out. I had to stop applying to audit firms because I realized I didn’t have the exact skill set that they require, and didn’t have the work experience to prove I could do it…it was hard to accept because I’m pretty smart and I adapt well, but I just wasn’t what they wanted.
      Many “returnees” and all job seekers in general may have to first be honest with themselves in acknowledging their strengths and building where necessary. Then, narrow the labor market into where they fit..or be purposefully ambitious if they want with means as to how to get into where they want. I think those tips can help with improving one’s chances when one is educated and job hunting. Because, trust me, there are jobs out here…they’re just quite specialized.

  6. temi

    March 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    story doesn’t quite add up especially about the hiring part, Abuja or no Abuja, no1 just hires u like that! even when theres connexions, u don’t just walk in n get hired like that!!!

    • vagrant

      March 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      No mind them. All these stories, the same Abuja I lived in for 4 years and people with multiple degrees from the U.S and the U.K were looking for jobs.

    • Sandi

      March 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      You asked me to pay Abuja’s rent first. Please do you know the depth of my pocket? You can’t just start assuming things about people biko. If you had a hard time, sorry for you but not everyone has a hard time like you, and even if they had a hard time, there are people who know how to hustle and accomplish their dreams regardless of the obstacles they face. There is no place on this earth that is utopia, everywhere you go, you have to struggle. You say at lease in Lagos one can move to the outskirts and find a place to live, there are some people who can’t afford those outskirts. So to each his own. Plus there are other factors why some people won’t live in Lagos and would prefer living in Abuja, like reduced traffic, less pot holes on the expressway, etc. So relax.
      I know people who survive with private sector jobs and those who survive with civil servant job. To each their own, so please check your negativity.

    • Sandi

      March 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Well she got hired…soooo….what’s your beef?

  7. Nosey

    March 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I dont for a second doubt her story that she just walked in to a job because it can happen. Also, I like the way she comes across and that is something that probably the HR person saw and employed her and you never know there might just have been an opening that day. There is such a thing called Divine intervention you know! Not everyone is favoured that way.

    I also like the work she is doing with her NGO. Most Nigerians on this series either come here to boast, get noticed or show off their connections or how much money they are making. Whereas Madam here seems to want to a make a real difference in peoples lives. Well done dear, wish you all the best!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      True, about the HR person possibly deciding to hire her because of something she/he liked about the young lady. Maybe she even spoke about her work in with the foundation and the person conducting the interview picked up on that? I’ve seen people getting hired for flimsier reasons which had nothing to do with connection or the contents of their CVs. Sometimes there’s something personal that makes an interviewer really connect with you.

    • Lagos is my home

      March 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      It does happen, I moved back briefly to do NYSC after my undergrad and walked into a telecom firm in VI and asked to see the HR manager. That was the first place i tried and was interviewed and offered a job same day. I didnt know anybody there and that’s where did my NYSC. That been said , the pay was like 11k a month for coppers and full staffs so maybe that’s why i was given the job……… what can 11k do for you ,but as a copper living at home that was fine plus extra NYSC allowance . I left d country and the job the day I collected my NYSC

      My boss said he will leave my job open that I can come back after my master ……….lol , come back to 11 k, hahahaha too funny. I WASNT BORN TO SUFFER

  8. Nosey

    March 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I dont for a second doubt her story that she just walked in to a job because it can happen. Also, I like the way she comes across and that is something that probably the HR person saw and employed her and you never know there might just have been an opening that day. There is such a thing called Divine intervention you know! Not everyone is favoured that way.

    I also like the work she is doing with her NGO. Most Nigerians on this series either come here to boast, get noticed or show off their connections or how much money they are making. Whereas Madam here seems to want to a make a real difference in peoples lives. Well done dear, wish you all the best!

  9. Cancel Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    “Nigeria needs Nigerians” but what are the 168 million that are currently there doing?

    • zz

      March 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Lol

    • Jane Public

      March 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      You are hilarious

    • Jane Public

      March 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      You are hilarious

    • Simsima

      March 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      I don’t know o! Maybe waiting for all those in diaspora to come and save the country! Abi what the heck does that mean? The population is already overflowing so what more? Orisirisi sha!

    • Yankee girl

      March 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      That’s exactly what she means. Native Nigerians living in Naija AND diaspora Nigerians need to step up!! Imagine what the country would be if Nigerians tried harder.
      As a Nigerian American, I applaud this woman, though I don’t think I could ever make the move.

    • Sandi

      March 18, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Waiting for manna from heaven. Get off your a**es and do something.

  10. El patron medellin cartel

    March 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    @vagrant you making sense! If ya papa no get connect, or you have a plan to start your own business,better stay put mehn! You just want to come and suffer yourself..And if you are coming ditch Yankee mentality..Remember If you can’t beat them join them.

  11. Lupitanicious

    March 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I think this is by far the most Inspiring story i have ever heard. How do you pack your backs and move to a country you have NEVER lived in with no job in hand or place to stay. She is bold and brave and i salute her hussle. Very inspiring. I leave June 14 2014 and i cant wait. At least with me the house is there and car is there, so i have no excuse not to succeed. I dont look forward to the electricity problem cos i need my internet 24/7 but i guess generator will do. I also hate lizards but i will get 2 big fat cats to drive them away and a dog 🙂

  12. Lupitanicious

    March 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    she is not lying, my friend (harvard BA and MBA) never ever lived in lagos a day in her life, Relocated looked in newspaper, applied for job with erricson and just got it gbam just like that. she is a top exec now. 4 yrs and counting

    • Benjamin Button

      March 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      She went to Harvard o, just saying.

  13. Liz

    March 19, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Very inspiring! A friend of mine got hired the same way too.Do not let these haters discourage anyone of you. Keep on holding on to your God. Go on girl. Just saying!

  14. Betty Adex

    April 1, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Lmaoooooooooo

    I wanted to comment after reading to June 14th but the “hate lizards” and “getting fat cats and a dog” made me laugh.

    Have a safe trip and enjoyable stay. I leave in 2weeks for a week stay. Super exciting!

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