The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional, and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.
Today, we are doing things a little bit differently. Instead of discussing the Japa experience for Nigerians in other countries, we will touch more deeply on why some Nigerians moved back home from abroad and why anyone in the diaspora might consider returning to Nigeria.
Just think of it like the usual “Japa” move,
The inspiration for this article came from a viral tweet that one of my editors spotted and tagged me on.
A marriage therapist, Shamseddin Giwa, shared the story of his previous life abroad and how he and his wife could barely make a sustainable income. This forced the couple to return to Nigeria.
Many Nigerians received the story with lots of scepticism and speculation that they left due to “illegal migration.” It was unbelievable for many people. How could anyone make such a decision with Nigeria’s economy crumbling day and night?
On this table, amidst the ongoing debates on social media, illegal migration isn’t always the sole reason for anyone to return to their homeland, Nigeria. There are myriad reasons behind such decisions. To gain a better sense of this decision, six Nigerians who previously lived abroad but have now chosen to reside in Nigeria share their motivations for relocating.
“I had issues with European culture and racism”
Bayo*, an entrepreneur, didn’t experience the stress of European culture and racism while seeking a Master’s degree as a student in Italy. His once cordial relationship with white people changed after graduation due to his lifestyle upgrade through internships.
“After I started to make money from my internships and look nice, I started experiencing racism. My neighbours harassed me and, at one point, even involved the police in minor incidents. For the average Nigerian, every day as an immigrant is stressful,” he shares.
Bayo moved back to Nigeria in 2020, and he has never regretted his choice. He has made “five times the income” he made in Italy, has gained more job opportunities, and describes his lifestyle as “feeling like a king in my own country.”
“My mother’s ill health drove me back to Nigeria”
Even though Dele and Dante relocated to Nigeria from the UK in 2011 and 2018, respectively, they have one thing in common about their relocation stories—their mothers. Dante’s mom fell ill, and Dele’s mom passed on.
But the one difference they have, however, is their feelings about relocation. Dante, a software engineer, hates that he moved, while Dele, a business development expert, has never regretted it because he is doing “way better financially” than the friends he left behind.
“I would still have been in the UK if not for my mother’s health. Life there was cool, and there were no worries. I miss the job opportunities and friends I’ve left behind,” Dante shares.
Dele is also of the opinion that Japa is only for “economic survival” and that most Nigerians only travel to “gain exposure and enhance their skillset”, not to reside there permanently.
“I came back to Nigeria because of the conflict in Sudan”
In April 2023, John* was among the many Nigerian students in Sudan who had to be immediately evacuated due to the conflict in the nation’s capital, Khartoum, and the Darfur region.
But even though he is grateful for life, John hates that his education has come to an unprecedented halt since he arrived. “I’m doing nothing at home and haven’t finished my studies yet. And I’m currently finding it difficult to get admission as a transfer student,” he complains.
“My dreams of becoming a diplomat can be fulfilled here in Nigeria”
For many Nigerians, they see the Abroad Life as a means of fulfilling their dreams. But not for a recent graduate, Osione. Moving to Nigeria after living in the UK, Switzerland, and Australia is one step towards her long-term goal of becoming a UN Ambassador or diplomat.
She sees this move as important because of “the connection one needs to have with his or her home country” before becoming a diplomat.
Does she regret relocating? Not in any way. She is determined to stay.
According to Osione, “Nigeria can be a hard country to live in and find job opportunities in, but nothing will deter me from my long-term goal of an international diplomacy career. If I want to achieve this, I have to stay.”
“I left Ireland because of COVID”
Peter* was halfway through the final year of his undergraduate degree in Ireland when the pandemic struck. As a result, he had to leave Ireland in March 2020 and only go back to school a few months later to finish his degree.
After graduating in 2021, he never returned to Ireland, and he doesn’t see the need to.
“I didn’t plan to work or live there,” Peter shares. “I have more family in Nigeria, and I am more comfortable here with my enterprises and accounting career. In Nigeria, if you find the opportunity to be who you want, it’s not as difficult to live here, unlike living an immigrant life abroad.”