For the umpteenth time, the latest in a steady line of Nigerian government officials and elite, this time President Bola Tinubu, made an appeal to Diaspora Nigerians to consider returning to Nigeria to contribute their proverbial quota to the development of the country.
This was when Tinubu recently addressed Nigerians in New York during the yearly United Nations General Assembly meetings.
Later, one of the Nigerian news reports (the September 21st online edition of Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper) of Tinubu’s meeting with Diaspora Nigerians in the UScheekily spun the encounter like this: “…President Tinubu has called on Nigerians abroad to shift their mindset towards success and consider returning to Nigeria to settle down”! Never mind that many of the Diaspora Nigerians Tinubu addressed directly during the meeting in New York and those he reached through media reports of that meeting are very successful professionals / individuals in the United States who have made meaningful impacts across all strata of life and endeavours in the self-proclaimed “God’s Own Country” and are firmly established in same (forget about “settling down”).
At this point, let’s cut through the bulls**t, shall we? I am a Diaspora Nigerian who has spent many years in the foreign country in which I reside in the West—and which remains a favorite destination for Nigerians with “Japa” on their minds. Thank God that against all odds, I have done well for myself since I got to the country, professionally and financially. I am also a very frequent traveler to Nigeria and meet up with old acquaintances and colleagues quite often when I am there.
I can tell you, my dear fellow Diaspora Nigerians, that the Tinubus of this world and other Nigerian politicians and elites who bellow for Diasporans to return home to contribute their hackneyed “quota” to the country’s development are actually deceiving you. Sadly, Tinubu is one of the chief culprits regarding this elaborate deception—and not just serves as Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief. Again, Diasporans, please don’t be deceived by the very insincere and constant bellowing of Nigerian elites that they want you to come back; if indeed they do, most of them seekDiasporans of a certain persuasion and preference, a point that will be highlighted later on in this piece.
At this point, fellow Diaspora Nigerians, let’s reveal a truth many of you will find quite surprising, if not shocking: most of those Nigerian government and private sector elite shouting their best in the public arena for you to return to Nigeria (many of these may even be friends and work colleagues you had before you travelled out of the country) have become the most arrogant pieces of s**t you will ever meet or encounter (yes, in a country that can hardly generate 24-hour electricity for its citizens or refine petroleum products it has in abundance, among other “achievements” the so-called elite there believe they should be “arrogant” about). Like it or not, these arrogant-over-nothing characters actually view you, the Diaspora Nigerian, as the failure. That is especially so if you worked in Nigeria with them many years ago, left for a foreign country then returned to contribute your “quota” to Nigeria’s development that the shameless hypocrites keep bellowing over and over.
These arrogant-for-nothing types will view you as a failure who needs their “rehabilitation” (gasp!)—even if you belong to one of the professions people believe are highly-remunerated in Western or other countries Nigerians are known to flock to when they “Japa”.
Worse still, these cartoonishly-arrogant characters you will return to meet in Nigeria, many of whom shouted in the public square for you to come back and “contribute your quota” prior to that time will now do everything in their power (particularly the “financial power” afforded by their looting of Nigerians’ common patrimony, especially the politicians and other public office holders among them) to reinforce their message to you that you are the “failure” who has come to them (the rich, “successful” stay-backs who never had to leave Nigeria to make their mostly ill-gotten fortunes) to be “rehabilitated”.
They will continuously flaunt their mansions, late-model cars, choice plots of lands, etc., at you, most of which are proceeds of monumental acts of public and private corruption that have contributed to leaving most Nigerians destitute and their country virtually unliveable, decades after the country attained political independence.
Always watch out for this attitude, even if some of those “successful” home-based Nigerians you will approach for one thing or the other after your returnmake an effort to hide the same attitude from you. Most won’t, though, for with you, the “abroad-returnee”, they almost always feel the need to assuage an ever-present inferiority complex on their part (despite all their “riches”!), along with what must be a gnawing realization within them that most of the wealth they flaunt to you is ill-gotten and has contributed to Nigeria’s perennial status as a “developing”—even under-developed—country that cannot provide 24-hour electricity supply to its citizens and residents, close to 63 years after the country attained “independence”, among other major failings.
The arrogant-for-nothing Nigerian elite that perennially pretend they really want to see you, the Diasporan, return to Nigeria actually view your coming back as a threat to their “interests”, and / or their chance to oppress and “rehabilitate” the “beggar”—you—who made the monumental mistake (in their perverted minds) of not staying back in Nigeria to participate in politics or enter choice areas of public or private service, then outrightly steal or “misallocate” government and private sector resources or aid and abet those activities in such support roles as Special Assistants, Special Advisers, Media Advisers, editors, etc., both in the private and public sectors.
What is particularly nauseating is that these “successful” idiots that populate the ranks of Nigeria’s elite never appear to see the link between the “success” of their personal circumstances they continuously seekto project (largely funded or secured by mind-bogglingacts of corruption, both in the private and public sectors, especially the latter) and the continued deterioration of the quality of life in Nigeria throughout the years they have racked up their “successes”.
Another bitter truth Diaspora Nigerians will have to confront if they actually decide to take the plunge and return to Nigeria to contribute their “quota” is that many of those in Nigeria urging you to return actually resent the fact—and most likely hate you because of that—you have been able to live in and function in a society that is far from perfect but which allows you to live life as it should be lived. It’s not even the 24-hour public electricity and water supply, among other markers of how life is supposed to be lived in the 21st Century; they actually really resent the fact you did not need to carve out a successful existence by largely indulging in activities that stain your conscience,character and legacy—which cannot be said for many of the characters hypocritically and facetiously urging you to return and contribute your “quota” to what constitutes their warped vision of “developing” Nigeria.
Such shameless and hypocritical characters (which is the majority of Nigerian elites and politicians, by the way) flaunt those “riches” to you, the “beggar”Diasporan, and their “fellow Nigerians” they have trampled underfoot beyond all redemption, without even considering the clear fact that their ill-gotten riches are inexorably linked to the fact that no local government administration in Nigeria can boast all the roads in its jurisdiction are tarred (in fact, most of them are usually not tarred, while the most breath-taking mansions that can be found anywhere in the world dot those non-existent roads, monuments to the corruption that holds Nigeria, its leaders and populace in an eternal vice-grip).
There’s more, dear Diaspora Nigerians: the sly and shameless Nigerian leaders and elite urging you to come back and develop Nigeria actually also think you are a thief who cannot wait to join their looting spree in Nigeria. That will explain the haughtiness and arrogance you will first notice on their part when you give them an indication that you are ready to heed their (very insincere) call to return and develop Nigeria.Related to this is the problem or issue of the larger public’s perception; put simply, and starkly, the prevailing perception of the leaders / leadership in Nigeria and even the rest of the citizenry is that the country is so messed up that even if you land from the coziest part of heaven (forget America, Europe, etc.) to join any level of government in the country, you are regarded by most of those on the outside looking in as a person who came to steal from the public exchequer, like those you are joining. Such a level of distrust for official spaces in the country is hardly surprising: a shameless serving Minister, in a previous but dissimilar iteration of his present position, once boasted about the number of houses he owns or has corruptly acquired in the United States, not about the efforts he has taken to enable lower-class Nigerians own homes in their own country.
On his apart (in fairness to him, before he became President), I know Diaspora Nigerians who made strident efforts and expended resources to bring themselves to Bola Tinubu’s direct attention as persons interested in joining the “return to contribute your quota” train but were snubbed or otherwise frustrated in this endeavor, either by Tinubu or his close aides, often in very inexplicable ways.
This brings me, my dear fellow Diaspora Nigerians, to yet another rot one believes has eaten deep into the ranks of Nigeria’s elite and leadership at all levels, both public and private. It is a deeply-personal issue / conduct but which a past government in Nigeria wisely decided was serious enough to be nipped in the bud by passing a law which imposed a prison sentence of 14 years for those who engage in the conduct. Without exactly mentioning the “H word”, dear DiasporaNigerian (and assuming you are not already an aficionado of said conduct yourself!), be very wary of those who now populate all cadres of Nigeria’s leadership and elite class (both public and private) and who make giving them favours regarding the “H conduct” an unspoken prerequisite of their lifting a finger to assist you in contributing that fabled “quota” to Nigeria’s development. So, if your quest is to serve in government and you are not willing to play that particular ball (pun intended), forget it. Hopefully you would not have disposed off your property and other assets in the foreign land you chose to settle in years ago and placed all your “eggs” in that particular come-back-and-contribute-your-quota “basket”. It will be a real basketcase!
In view of the above, my candid advice to Diaspora-Nigerians who catch the “return home and contribute your quota” bug spread by the likes of Tinubu is as follows: always know the character and preferences (in ALL ways) of those who are encouraging you to “come back home”. Don’t automatically trust anyone because they were your friends, colleagues, etc. when you lived and worked in Nigeria many years ago before you travelled away from her shores. If you have been promised a position, whether in the government or private sector, make sure it is not a banana peel disguised as a favour, by those who secretly see you as someone who needs “rehabilitation” or a supposed “failure”, instead of an-already distinguished person invited to contribute his or her “quota” … (you know the rest of that drivel).
Also, if you do decide to return without any invitation to do so (i.e. to establish your own business in Nigeria), make sure you leave one and a half legs planted firmly in the foreign country where you now live or are about to leave, even as you make your way to Nigeria or are already there. If you are a professional in that foreign land, make sure your sources of income (i.e. law firm, medical practice, etc.) are not wound down before you make your way to Nigeria to “contribute” that “quota” among the hordes of your “fellow Nigerians” who secretly view you as a “failure” and, in most cases, wish you same in your new enterprise among them—even if your efforts in the country of your birth has resulted or will soon result in employment for scores or hundreds of the same “fellow Nigerians” that now wish you evil and failure, even in your own fatherland / motherland.
It’s sad but still the truth—the seemingly “patriotic” bellowings of the likes of Tinubu and his ilk notwithstanding.