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Iniobong Umoh: Naija ? Canada – The New One-Ticket Destination for Young Nigerians



On the eve of Christmas last year, I saw a picture with a powerful caption posted by a friend on Facebook. It was a selfie of her and her husband in a hotel in Canada. They had just relocated from Nigeria to Justin Trudeau’s country. I commented, “Congrats! Welcome to a new life in a civilized society”

Two years ago I wouldn’t have posted such a comment because I didn’t consider traveling overseas as an achievement. But today my views have changed. Escaping Nigeria is an achievement!

Do you know anyone who left Nigeria for Canada, UK, USA or any western country last year?

Six of my friends and relatives left in 2018 and I am certain that more would leave this year.

We have a situation on our hands. Young Nigerians are fleeing the country in droves and we are acting like everything is okay!

Why are people leaving? Are people leaving because it is now relatively easy to secure foreign visas?

Nigeria is increasingly becoming a toxic place for creative individuals. Everything seems to be working against you. The system is designed to frustrate you and make you want to give up. The young people who succeed in Nigeria succeed in spite of the system not because of the system.
Methinks it is only the one percenters who live in luxury that can thrive in the current system that we have found ourselves.

So we have a situation where a vast majority of young Nigerians with dreams, goals, and visions are becoming increasingly disillusioned with life in the country and are looking for any legal opportunity to leave the country. There’s little hope for positive change. The two major political parties in the countries are composed of the same set of people who put us in the mess that we are in. The other parties with new faces and good plans do not have the structures, chance of winning the elections this year.

The harsh reality is that life in 21st century Nigeria is hard and uncertain. The moneybags and elite political class acknowledge this fact. They do not see a future for their children in the country. So they carefully make investments in their lives and in the lives of their children.

They send their children to the best schools in the west to acquire an education that will make them compete favourably with their peers anywhere in the world. They secure foreign passports for their children. They do not patronize the hospitals in Nigeria. Their businesses and properties are in western society. They even stash their looted funds in foreign banks. At the slightest chance of civil unrest, disaster or war, they will jet out of the country. So, Nigeria is left for the low incoming earning and poor class who can’t afford flight tickets and visas.

The quest for better economic opportunities, job satisfaction, and fulfilment is driving migration to the west. Doctors are leaving, Bankers are leaving, Writers are leaving, Engineers are leaving, even Entertainers are leaving.

I have lived all my life in Nigeria but from my close interactions with friends and family who live overseas, and from TV, movies, and internet I have a glimpse of what it means to live in a civilized society.

Take power availability for instance. I have always wanted to live in a society where there are no power cuts. Imagine living in a place where the light is steady and does not blink for 10 years!

Some years back, some rural communities in my state were electrified by the state government. In one of the villages, an old woman lived alone in her late husband’s house. After two weeks of constant power, she sent an emergency message to her son in the city to come and rescue her because the light bulb has refused to stop glowing despite her attempts to put it off by blowing air on it! The son laughed heartily when he got the message. He had forgotten to show her the light switch and how to operate it. I can imagine myself living in London for a month with uninterrupted power. I would call home to complain that NEPA in London has refused to take light 😀

Can I tell you one more reason why Nigerians are relocating overseas? Promise me you won’t spill the secret…..Okay? Nigerians are leaving the country because there is a level of prestige that comes from living abroad. We home-based people look up to you foreign-based Nigerians as people who have made it in life. That is why we click the ‘Like’ button and drop all the nice comments on your social media posts and pictures. When you relocate overseas you automatically become rich, so we bombard you with all our financial problems. This is why I need a Canadian visa,  so that when I finally relocate to Canada and post a picture of me standing against a snowy background in Ottawa, Idara the beautiful but sassy girl who refused to say Yes to me in Nigeria will send me a DM, “Hello boo, you are so handsome! Please send me $250 to make my hair, love ya! Mwah!”

When you leave, you automatically have the right to be haughty and to refer to Nigeria as “That country” and Nigerians as “Those people” 🙂

Are you planning on leaving Nigeria this year? Have you relocated to any western society recently? Why did you leave? Has the number of your prayer points reduced automatically?

Kindly share your experiences with us in the comment box 🙂

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


  1. Oluwaseub

    January 7, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    I’m sure if you ask most of the youths in this generation, those that don’t have backbones though, their answers would be YES!, I want to migrate to another country.. No jobs after fulfilling all righteousness to have a degree, the vacancies you get are asking for 5-10years experience. How do you even get to have that experience when no one wants to employ you without an experience? I am so planning to leave before the year runs out God willing

  2. January7th

    January 7, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Lol! Fun read. I live in Canada (came here almost 20 years ago when it seemed like a dumb decision to most) and I now occasionally ask my friends and family in Nigeria if they have considered the Canadian option.

    I personally don’t know about the level of prestige you speak of or the haughtiness (I’m guessing you were joking ?) but I can’t speak for everyone.

    I think it won’t hurt to get foreign residency, it doesn’t mean you have to relocate today but it surely gives you options.

    • Iniobong Umoh

      January 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

      Thanks @January7th. Residency is a good option. 20 years in Canada is more than enough for you to become a Canadian citizen.

  3. Anonymous

    January 8, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Racism is real. It’s hidden. You have to be 10 times better than the other……

    • Gee

      January 8, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      Spoken like someone with a lot of experience,…i totally agree. Yes relocating is great, but it comes with its own woes…one has to suck up to a lot of things….eventually, i guess you learn to ignore it.

  4. Anonymous

    January 8, 2019 at 5:28 am

    It’s a good place to live and have your kids.

  5. Nsikak

    January 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Iniobong this is a very interesting article. “Nigerians that succeed in Nigeria do so in spite and not because” I am taking permission to steal and quote you on this in the future.

    Speaking as someone that was opportuned and blessed to do his undergraduate in the UK and postgraduate in the US, work in US, applied for the Canadian residence permit.

    I will put it simply Nigeria is the future, but it is a tough road but I assure you, you can never eat your cake and still have it. I understand the glare and fascination in living abroad, it was all that was in my head when I graduated secondary school. I definitely benefited from the exposure abroad, for one visiting a country and actually residing there for a while are two different things.

    But you see the AY’s, the Mo Abudu’s, Clarence Peters, in the next ten, twenty years they will be the Disney’s, the Weinstein’s, the 20th Century Fox.


    Well even if they only market to Nigeria, we have the numbers 180million population compared to America’s 300 plus million population. Whether we have the politicians to build needed infrastructure is not important or a deciding factor, money never sleeps and industrialists will take that on. look at Lagos for examples. And you will be amazed that the rest of Africa is gradually weaning off American pop culture and lifestyle and leaning towards Nigerian culture and lifestyle – they even speak pidgin!
    US didn’t take over the world with their massive tanks and nuclear weapons, they did so with Hollywood which was a premeditated act – feast for the conspiracy theorists lol.
    If not China has all the same infrastructure and population and infrastructure but I ain’t about to learn Chinese and listen or watch their stuff barring the Americanized version of their films.

    Long story short. In UK I met kids of Chinese families that migrated from homeland China when it was difficult and people were starving in China. And I also had classmates that were international students too from China just like me.

    The difference was those kids that their parents came earlier were delivering the Chinese food that their parents established to the wealthy CEO children of Chinese industrialists that stayed back and lost a lot no doubt but eventually built empires in their homelands.

    I’m sure there is always an exception but point is you can’t eat your cake and have it. You can go abroad and enjoy 24/7 light or you can build the company in Nigeria that provides 24/7 light.

    Everyone has their right to choose. But for me having seen what I’ve seen and is seeing I’d hedge my efforts on the latter.

    • Mok

      January 8, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Hmmmm, great approach Nsikak. Looking at it from another angle, are you aware that the Mo Abudus, Clarence Peters and others mostly have an international background or experience? If not all of them, most of them have travelled abroad at an early stage, been exposed to life outside Nigeria, hence the room to express their creativity. Everyone cannot be a millionaire what Nigerians want is just the ability to live a comfortable life. If I relocate out of Naija today, it’s not because I want to go and hustle and return home as a millionaire, it’s because I need a system that works, a system that gives me the opportunity to afford the basic things of life, a system with good education and basic health care. Take for example, a man earning 200k per month, what kind education will he provide for his kids, what kind of accommodation?

      It’s sad that loads of Nigeria’s man power are relocating, but if that’s what gives them an averagely good life, then it’s worth it.

    • TheRealist

      January 9, 2019 at 12:29 am

      @MOK, Nigerian billionaires like Tony Elumelu, Cosmos Maduka (Coscharis), Razak Okoya (Eleganza), Innocent Chukwuma (Innosun) and so many others do not have an international background or traveled abroad at an early age. Neither did creatives like Sunny Ade, Amaka Igwe (RIP), Basketmouth, Wizkid and so many others.

      Sadly, Nigerians keep talking about “Nigeria” (and so-called “systems”) as if it has absolutely nothing to do with themselves. And yet these countries that Nigerians are rushing off to were not built by god or some other supreme being but by people – their own citizens! The reality is that Nigeria’s condition (and its future) is a culmination of the actions (by commission or omission) of ALL Nigerians!

    • akama

      January 8, 2019 at 5:23 pm

      You speak of the future of entrepreneurs and businesses what about the people working for them?

    • TheRealist

      January 9, 2019 at 12:30 am

      @akama, are both mutually-exclusive?

    • Wishful thinking

      January 8, 2019 at 5:51 pm

      China had a revolution of red army communism in which 30 million people died. Several decades later before their socialist and partial capitalist policies started yielding fruit….Nigeria is not even in control of its policies and still not in the interests of its colonialmasters or greedy denizens for it to succeed. Shamefully I have to say the scenario of industrialist millionaire offspring takeaway delivery scenario sounds fanciful.
      Also it depends which part of the Chinese social class you are from…china billion plus population still full of perhaps just as many desperately poor people as in Nigeria. Besides offspring of corrupt Nigerian elites are already in the West flaunting to their poor national counterpart. See them in Kings road and the Sloaneys.
      The Jewish directors and successful people in Hollywood did so outside Israel and seized opportunities in foreign countries…so not a good analogy. In conclusion…let’s try and do our best wherever we find ourselves.

    • Spirouch

      January 8, 2019 at 7:21 pm

      Nice one there Nsikak..however a lot of Nigerians relocating to canada are individuals that have actually experienced the reality called Nigeria. I lived and worked in lagos for a couple of years because I actually had a set plan for my career in terms of achievements and aspirations. Bro it is quite frustrating starting off in Nigeria oo..from the traffic, to the light situation, to the way you’d get treated at the office, to the behaviours of other Nigerians around you..its a lot to deal with. Furthermore, Nigeria isn’t the best place to raise the next generation in my own opinion.

      You talk of the Ays and the Mo abudus..bro that’s like a small percentage of the entire Nigeria that actually have wealth. You also speak as someone that may have been privileged to get good quality education with some money
      .. that’s great for you..however an average Nigerian that has experienced the realities of this country intoto would tell you that they’d rather eat their cake elsewhere.

      I was running a business as well before I left. Chaii let me not even talk further. The term to define it is “frustrating”. Everyone and everything is set up to take out the little money you make, the environment isn’t even enabled to assist. Entrepreneurs are making it but they go through a lot of shit because of it..we won’t even mention the tax authorities and their undying quest to shut down Nigerian businesses.

      Currently back to my home base here in Birmingham and I can say I made the right decision!.

    • Dayo

      January 9, 2019 at 12:10 am

      @Nsikak, Bravo! best post not just here but arguably on BN in a while…

    • Iniobong Umoh

      January 9, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Nice perspective Nsikak. However it will take a long while before we get to that stage, so rather than stay in Nigeria and allow your dreams to be killed by the system, it is better to move to a place where you are guaranteed of the right environment and support system for your dreams and visions to become a reality.

    • Nsikak

      January 9, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Certainly if you have the opportunity I will advice anyone to go abroad. Especially to Canada at this current time.

      It will be an eye opening event. For me I found out how much I loved Nigeria and her people only when I left and even when I came back intermittently Nigerians still found a way to make me hate them again but the moment I leave MMA I start missing the yeye airport official asking for happy weekend lol

      I think you should go if u get the opportunity but just don’t take rubbish from obudu oyibo, and a lot of ppl don’t know this

      But Nigeria no end for GIDI oh!! Lol

      Travel around the country and expose yourself to Nigeria, you would be amazed.

  6. Miriam

    January 9, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Great points raised, although I don’t agree with the last few paragraphs which alludes one becomes haughty the moment they migrate.

    I can live with low income and Nepa wahala but my main issue for not returning to Nigeria is the security aspect; security for self and assets. The police and army (not all) are not your friend and helper, we seem to also idolize criminals in power and refuse to adapt to modern times regarding minority groups like same sex couples, rights for the old and needy and properly addressing sexual assaults on women and children. The various hard core religions and cults are adding fuel to this too.

    Nigeria certainly has potential but I don’t see it becoming a 1st world nation in my life time, probably for my grandchildren. I’d rather complain about racism in Europe than being gifted but without opportunities in my motherland.

    • TheRealist

      January 11, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      @MARIAM, people create great nations and not the other way around. And if all (or most) educated Nigerians run away, who do we expect to fix Nigeria? Uneducated Nigerians?

      The West had some of the worst homophobic laws in human history until people started changing things. Until recently, there were still sodomy laws on the books of many US states, and of course some states have enacted the so-called “bathroom laws” over the past few ears. There were (perhaps still are) the worst-ever racists and racist laws (including but not limited to Jim Crow laws) until relatively recently in the US, so much so that in fact Nigerians had voted in at least 3 national elections before African-Americans were legally granted the right to universal sufferage under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As for violence, there is an average of more than one Mass Shooting (defined as involving 4 or more victims) daily in the US (577 in 2017), not to mention other gun deaths and random school shootings. US citizens are not running away but are campaigning hard to change their gun laws (the culture will be harder to change).

      Personally, I tend to defer to people’s individual choices and what I consider to be each person’s unique circumstances, but we have to at least acknowledge the reality that the condition Nigeria is the culmination of the collective actions (by commission or omission) of ALL Nigerians (as will its future fortunes). for instance, when Nigerians who have benefited from cheap/subsidized/free education in Nigeria (e.g., Nigerian-educated doctors in the US should ask their US colleagues how much of a massive debt is the legacy of similar education) take that public social investment made by Nigeria to go benefit the economies of other countries, that effectively also adds to Nigeria’s conditions.

  7. Ukeme Tom

    June 15, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    I have never left Nigeria to anywhere before. If not for the internet and movies, I’d think everywhere else is the same. In fact, despite the evidence of how life is made easy in the developed world, there are still people who keep preaching the false message that struggles are the same everywhere. That you can become anything you want from anywhere you are, even in Nigeria. Anyway, that’s not for me.

    I want to spend my 40s and up in Canada. Most importantly, I want my kids to grow up there. But for now, Rwanda is where I want to be for a start.

    Thank you Leroy

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