Is there a steady in­crease in young Nige­ri­ans abroad not want­ing to move back home? Why?


I’m Seyi Ala­wode, a 20-year-old stu­dent at War­wick Uni. If you’re un­fa­mil­iar with me, I write pe­ri­odic ar­ti­cles for ThisDay Style that aim to bridge the mind set gap be­tween my gen­er­a­tion and our par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion – be­lieve it or not, it can be done… I hope.

In the past, I’ve writ­ten var­i­ous, quite pop­u­lar ar­ti­cles (you can ac­cess them on­line about fem­i­nism, men­tal health, ed­u­ca­tion and other topics – my goal is to ad­dress is­sues that tend to cause fric­tion be­tween mil­len­ni­als and their par­ents.

My ar­ti­cles are essen­tially tweet-based. I feel as though the eas­i­est and most ef­fec­tive man­ner (for me at least) of re­search­ing how mil­len­ni­als think, is to sim­ply ask them on a plat­form where most of us share our thoughts, feel­ings, po­lit­i­cal opin­ions and gen­eral daily ac­tiv­i­ties – none other but Twit­ter.

To form the ba­sis of my ar­ti­cles, I tweeted out in Au­gust last year: ‘What’s the one thing you wish our par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion un­der­stood?’, to which I re­ceived hun­dreds of re­sponses cen­tred around men­tal health, fem­i­nism, ed­u­ca­tion, com­par­i­son, judge­ment and pres­sure. Act­ing as a ‘voice’ of my gen­er­a­tion, I tried to ex­plain to the best of my abil­ity, how a dire lack of un­der­stand­ing of some of these topics men­tioned above can be detri­men­tal to most par­ent-child re­la­tion­ships.

This time how­ever, I thought to take an al­ter­na­tive, ap­proach to this.

Re­cently, I no­ticed a shift in at­ti­tude amongst a lot of peo­ple my age who went to pri­mary and/or sec­ondary school in Nige­ria (like I did), fol­lowed by a re­lo­ca­tion abroad (be it U.K., USA, Dubai, Canada, etc) for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion. For many (but not all) of us that fall into this cat­e­gory, the typ­i­cal jour­ney goes as thus: Pri­mary / Sec­ondary School in Nige­ria -> ALevels / Univer­sity abroad -> Mas­ters abroad -> Move back home -> NYSC -> Pur­sue ca­reer.

How­ever, I’ve come to re­alise that as we get older, more and more peo­ple are aban­don­ing their dreams to go back home and ‘bet­ter Nige­ria’ and have in­stead cho­sen to stay in their cur­rent lo­ca­tions abroad to pur­sue what­ever am­bi­tions they have. To add to this, I see at least 2+ tweets DAILY (no ex­ag­ger­a­tion) from peo­ple who have al­ready moved back to Nige­ria, wish­ing they hadn’t! Not to men­tion – I ran a Twit­ter poll about 2 weeks ago, to which about 54% of re­spon­dents an­swered that they ei­ther had no plans to move back to Nige­ria af­ter ed­u­ca­tion, or sim­ply changed their minds and de­cided to stay abroad!

Why the grad­ual change, you may ask? I was equally as cu­ri­ous as you are, so I de­cided to carry out a se­cond Twit­ter poll to ex­plore the po­ten­tial rea­sons why peo­ple may not want to move back, or why those who have al­ready moved back to Nige­ria re­gret such a de­ci­sion. Out of 227 re­ceived votes, 41% of vot­ers voted ‘Salary rates too low’, 35% voted that they felt Nige­ria was ‘un­safe’ and ‘re­stricted their free­dom’, 9% voted that it was due to their par­ents, and 15% voted‘Other’rea­sons. (When asked to spec­ify, an­swers ranged re­li­gion to in­fra­struc­ture, pol­i­tics and govern­ment, etc)


Salary rates too low:

Ac­cord­ing to Num­beo, (the world’s largest data­base on cities and coun­tries world­wide, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on world liv­ing con­di­tions e.g. cost of liv­ing, hous­ing in­di­ca­tors, health care, traf­fic, crime and pol­lu­tion), the av­er­age liv­ing con­di­tion in Nige­ria is ap­prox­i­mately 60% lower than that of U.K.’s as of March 2018.

This statis­tic is off-putting in it­self, given that our pop­u­la­tion ex­ceeds that of the U.K.’s by ap­prox­i­mately 30%. Af­ter con­duct­ing much deeper re­search (it is SO hard to find up-to-date salary rates for Nige­ria on­line for some rea­son), I found that the av­er­age na­tional wage ranges from about N18,000 which trans­lates to just un­der £50 ($60) a month. As­sum­ing one has to cover food, fuel, elec­tric­ity and gen­eral liv­ing and oc­ca­sional leisure costs, that just isn’t good enough. Why would any­one want to leave a guar­an­teed min­i­mum wage of over £1,000/$1,000 a month only to earn trick­les? Rea­son num­ber one. ‘Ehn, won’t they be liv­ing in their par­ents’ house?’… …. Is what some of you are prob­a­bly think­ing. Ad­mit­tedly, it’s stan­dard for most Nige­rian youth to live with their par­ents un­til a cer­tain age, there­fore eas­ing the stress of liv­ing costs. I am also very aware that salary rates dif­fer per job and level. How­ever, the fact re­mains that our av­er­age wage is one of the worst glob­ally. Salaries gen­er­ally just aren’t enough to guar­an­tee com­fort­able in­de­pen­dence for many, hence their de­ci­sion to stay abroad. One tweeter fur­ther added that -

‘Many have to adapt their ca­reer goals to the Nige­rian mar­ket (both job and cus­tomer de­mand) in an un­com­fort­able way to live. That dis­com­fort is then am­pli­fied by the piti­ful salaries they’re com­pro­mis­ing for.’

(Para­phrased) Some­thing to think about. Re­stricted free­dom/Un­safe/Par­ents:

I can­not dwell too much on the is­sue of safety, as al­most nowhere in the world is par­tic­u­larly safe right now. Black men in Lon­don and Amer­ica for ex­am­ple, have been con­sis­tent vic­tims of gun and knife crime for the past few weeks.

One thing I can state how­ever, is that peo­ple my age have im­plied that they would rather live in a mildly un­safe place that at least al­lows them to be their true selves, than an un­safe place where they’re con­stantly, tox­i­cally po­liced and essen­tially forced by their par­ents and gen­eral so­ci­ety to think and be­have a cer­tain way. It is for this rea­son I cat­e­gorised the three above fac­tors to­gether, par­tic­u­larly be­cause ‘par­ents’ and ‘re­stricted free­dom’ kind of go hand in hand. Hard truth A tweeter summed this is­sue up per­fectly:

‘I don’t want to have to fight ev­ery­day—fight to have my voice heard as a woman, fight against all the deeply rooted cul­tural pho­bias and “isms”, fight to get mean­ing­ful work done with­out nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture, fight cor­rup­tion’

Other tweet­ers owed their re­luc­tance to move back to Nige­ria to ‘gen­eral ig­no­rance’ to­wards is­sues af­fect­ing mil­len­ni­als, with a par­tic­u­lar men­tion go­ing to ‘our par­ents’ men­tal­ity’. Other is­sues?

This sec­tion was rather vague and ranged from NEPA is­sues to govern­ment and in­fras­truc­tural dif­fi­cul­ties. It is no doubt that we suf­fer from an elec­tric­ity is­sue for rea­sons un­known to many, and with­out want­ing to sound too ‘Western­ised’, I’m cer­tain that your av­er­age Nige­rian would heartily choose to live with steady, con­stant elec­tric­ity with a more de­cent wa­ter sup­ply than to be essen­tially de­frauded by NEPA ev­ery month, billed for elec­tric­ity they didn’t get sup­plied with in the first place.

Though I’m no savvy when it comes to Nige­rian pol­i­tics, the oc­ca­sional so­cial-me­dia fight amongst AC­TUAL, pro­fes­sional politi­cians that ‘rule’ our coun­try is in­dica­tive of our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal land­scape – a bit of a mess. This has de­terred far too many young as­pir­ing politi­cians that I know of per­son­ally (not to men­tion the ones I don’t know), from want­ing to en­ter into the los­ing game that is Nige­rian pol­i­tics. Some have ei­ther aban­doned their po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions as a whole, or de­cided to pur­sue it abroad.

Another men­tioned fac­tor was re­li­gion. It is no sur­prise that we are a VERY re­li­gious coun­try. You can’t drive in La­gos with­out see­ing a ‘COME AND JOIN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD!’kind of poster within at least 200m of each other.

While this may not nec­es­sar­ily be a bad thing, Nige­ria is dis­rep­utable for re­li­gious houses ex­ploit­ing their con­gre­ga­tion for profit, some­thing that steers away some young Chris­tians pas­sion­ate about Christ and min­is­ter­ing, from mov­ing back home. A Chris­tian tweeter put for­ward: ‘We need to pray for re­vival in our na­tion be­cause we NEED God. Re­li­gion must die’. The ‘re­al­ity’ of Nige­ria?

This one’s a bit of a dif­fer­ent an­gle if I’m hon­est, and again, it is just some­thing to think about.

Though the topic wasn’t ex­actly men­tioned in the Twit­ter poll op­tions, it’s some­thing that has gen­er­ated a lot of rel­e­vant con­ver­sa­tions amongst Nige­rian mil­len­ni­als on so­cial me­dia.

What’s been brought for­ward on Twit­ter re­cently is the no­tion that many of us who live/study/work abroad re­gard Nige­ria as ‘the place to be’ be­cause we’re there 2-3 times a year dur­ing the hol­i­days and are priv­i­leged enough to NOT ex­pe­ri­ence the‘re­al­ity’of the coun­try (for ex­am­ple) as some have put it. I’ve read tweets de­scrib­ing how ‘re­al­ity hit them’ when the Christ­mas hol­i­day and en­joy­ment in La­gos was over, and it dawned on them that there’d be no re­turn to Mur­tala Muhammed Air­port. They re­alised they had to face the ‘ev­ery­day strug­gles’ that be­ing a young, semi-in­de­pen­dent mil­len­nial in Nige­ria brought.

Per­haps this is the rea­son why some of my poll re­sponses came from peo­ple who had re­lo­cated back to Nige­ria from abroad and wished they didn’t? Maybe. So what’s the so­lu­tion?

For once, I ac­tu­ally have no idea. This isn’t an eas­ily solv­able ‘is­sue’ per se, as peo­ple will only move back to a coun­try they feel they can reach their high­est po­ten­tial in, and be their hap­pi­est selves.

A good start how­ever, would be NOT re­gard­ing those who wish to stay abroad as ‘peo­ple who have tasted Oy­inbo-land and have be­come Western­ised’, be­cause as we can see, there’s a lot more to it!

Thanks for read­ing and do join the dis­cus­sion on so­cial me­dia us­ing the Hash­tag #FromTheMil­len­ni­als!

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