Since the advent of our “nascent democracy”, the government of Nigeria has continued to sell the idea of relocating back home to those in the diaspora-come and help develop our nation. The message is the same and always alluring, “the country is working, there are jobs waiting for you at home; just get on that plane and come help us build a strong nation”.
Well, I took that advice, boarded a plane and landed here for good. Now, having spent close to nine months in Nigeria without any job, I believe I am qualified (academically and otherwise)to share my thoughts with those in diaspora that are nursing the idea of coming back home. One big shock is waiting for you here, especially if you have spent some years living in a developed country where the system is rational.
For starters, this country is no respecter of foreign degrees and professional qualifications. If you apply for a job and to the glory of God you get invited for an interview, please try as much as you can to hide your “foreign accent”; nothing irritates a typical Nigerian Human Resources person like having to interview a “been to”. It is an offence to speak good English here-na only you go school for jand?
The government of Nigeria is one big mirage, a massive mobile fraud-the distance separating what the rulers of this country say and what is really on ground is like walking from Lagos to Amawbia in Anambra State. I sinfully believed those government officials that frequently flew into London on first class tickets to “tune” both Nigerian professionals and students to return back home. Reason being that they all assured us of jobs; “the country needs people with your experience”, bla bla bla.
Well, here I am-jobless, violated, sweating and being forced to contend with a class mind-frame that crassly violates all the decent things I learnt in Europe. I have sent in more than a thousand job applications and in the spirit of thanking God for little mercies, I was lucky to be invited to ONE interview by a faceless “firm”. When I called to confirm my availability, I could not let the chance of finding out what business they were into pass; they wanted me to come for an “interview”, pay N8, 000 and be taught how to market GNLD products. I won’t bore you with my reaction.
To say that there are no jobs in Nigeria would be completely misleading and false. There are jobs here but the number of candidates chasing those jobs will actually shame the devil. Civil Service jobs in Nigeria are the exclusive preserves of those with the right connections, those that can pay the heart-quaking bribe sum being demanded by the recruiters, those from a particular part of the country, and those that believe that by invoking “Holy Ghost Fire” and similar faith trades, the jobs will be clinched.
Before thinking of relocating to Nigeria, you must tutor yourself on how best to be a chameleon; in this case, you will really be good at changing your age and appearance. Employers in Nigeria seem to be in some kind of cold war with anyone whose ages fall with the 32-40 brackets. You will be doing yourself a great disservice if you take the saying that “age is nothing but numbers” too seriously.
The system here is killing me and quite a good number of Nigerians are happy with the putrefaction. The government and private employers of labour continue to short-change fellow citizens who only moan impotently and sing praises to God. The government of Nigeria is really churning out poverty-fertilizing policies while the likes of a certain former Comrade Reuben Abati makes a living by lying to Nigerians. Truth be told, there is nothing democratic about our democracy.
From the Federal, State, down to the Local level, those that run our government continue to feed fat while superintending over a largely diseased, traumatised and sick populace. The lies, treachery, daylight robbery, sinister insensitivity, brazen stealing that go on within the government circle is outrageous. Every year, budgets are read in Nigeria, projections are made, spurious projects “executed”, fairy-tale jobs are created, while billions disappear into private pockets. For the records, government officials now steal in billions, no more in millions-the EFCC should go eat cake!
Not so long ago, the banking sector was the only regular employer of labour. That was until the bubble bust and to our amazement, it was revealed that the top shots in the industry were actually robbing depositors of their funds and sustaining a baffling life-style of opulence and luxury. Consequently, thousands of innocent men and women were sacked for those dodgy banks to remain afloat.
Banks now prefer to hire OND graduates rather than university graduates who they pay peanuts (N30, 000 pm). Not just banks, most employers tell people with foreign degrees “sorry, we no fit pay you”. Is it really an offence to study in a developed country where the standard of education is actually high?
Well, before you make up your mind to make Nigeria your home, you must have to consider certain things. For starters, you must make sure that there is a big “party chieftain” that will do the leg work for you. You do not get a good job here on merit; somebody must talk to somebody who has the keys to your treasure. It does not matter if you cannot write you name in any language-na pidgin English we dey speak for office here.
Most importantly, be ready to lie about your religious leanings and inclination. Most would-be employers would shred your CV in your presence the moment you suggest that you are a free thinker, i.e., a man who prefers not to be bothered with things other than reason, science and technology. Be ready to join in a spontaneous prayer session and please, please, please, pretend to “speak in tongues” even if just to amuse yourself. Finally, you must learn to say “God bless you”.
In conclusion, am I regretting coming back to my country in search of “the golden fleece”? No, no regrets.