By Bamidele Salako
Migration, immigration and emigration are an integral part of human existence. No big deal.
The way people talk about relocation on Nigerian social media may make you feel like staying in Nigeria or relocating will be the end of you.
The choice to stay or relocate is exclusively yours, and if you’re a person of faith that believes in divine guidance, through God’s direction.
There are merits to both sides of the argument – to stay or to leave.
What I find interesting though is that some people who have been abroad for years and have not returned to Nigeria, advising those in Nigeria not to move abroad.
On the other side of the divide, people who have never travelled outside of Nigeria or Africa, advising other Nigerians not to travel abroad.
Yet, many in this second category do not currently live in the villages or townships where they were born or went to school.
Many of them are advising others not to emigrate even though they themselves are migrants to big Nigerian metropolises from the rustic dwellings of their birth. Ironical.
Then there’s another category – abroadians who see nothing good in Nigeria. This is another extreme. There’s quite a number of people who are making a killing of opportunities right there in Nigeria. Maybe not just nearly enough when compared to the total population of citizens.
Let me touch on a few things:
1.) Relocating is not something extraordinary so as to be raising the level of excitement and heated argument it does on Nigerian social media but for the ambient dysfunctions that make it a big deal.
I don’t know if it is the ubiquitous poverty or just the primitiveness of existence in Nigeria. Or perhaps the limits of the Nigerian passport in terms of the number of countries Nigerians can enter without a visa.
My team lead at work here in Canada, is from Poland where she went to school. She then lived in Greece and Ireland before moving to Canada about four or five years ago.
I have another colleague who is Canadian but worked in South America and Europe before returning to Canada.
Another colleague from Ethiopia lived and worked in England for many years before moving to Canada.
Still another colleague from India lived and worked in the UAE and Qatar for many years before moving to Canada a couple of years back.
I have colleagues from Romania, Eritrea, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Venezuela, USA, England etc
Many who have lived in multiple countries before settling in Canada.
This is what citizens of many other countries enjoy – the continental and intercontinental mobility to explore opportunities wherever they present.
Just a common part of existence. Some for the economic opportunities that present in other countries and others just for the adventure. Still others, because of the political instability and unrest in their countries.
The point is, the world is your oyster.
2.) There are opportunities for personal and professional growth abroad that your own country may never afford you.
There are people we’ve heard of and now celebrate only after they moved abroad. And there are MANY of them.
Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Kaycee Madu, who also happens to be the first black justice minister in Canada.
Jibs Adeoye-Abitoye who became a city councillor in Saskatchewan just five years after arriving in Canada. An opportunity to serve that she may never have had living in Nigeria given the way politics is done back home.
Charles Osuji who at the age of 31, became a named partner at what was at the time a 36-year old Canadian law firm now renamed Osuji & Smith Lawyers. This year, he was named one of Canada’s top 25 most influential lawyers. All under the age of 40.
Obadero Samuel who under one year of arriving in Canada, won the New Canadian Artist Award for his gripping photography and has now become one of the most recognizable and celebrated photographers in Calgary.
Ajayi Olanrewaju Olabode who also is a onetime recipient of the New Canadian Artist Award has etched his roots so deep into the Albertan community such that some of the biggest news makers in Alberta – from ministers to mayors to businessmen are on a first name basis with him and just a phone call away.
There are many more that it would take a year to complete the roll call.
Before you talk down on or dismiss with the wave of a hand, people’s desire to relocate to explore opportunities elsewhere, remember that Nigerians in the diaspora remit an estimated $5.8 billion to Nigeria quarterly. The figures only dropped to $3 billion during Covid-19 for the first time since 2008.
The lives of many people changed when they moved abroad. The story of many families changed because a family member moved abroad.
There are students in Nigeria who can only go to school because their school fees are being paid by relatives abroad.
There are medical bills of Nigerians in Nigeria currently being covered by people abroad.
There are people whose personal economies were sustained during Covid-19 – not by the Nigerian government – but by people abroad.
There are Nigerians whose businesses were funded by people abroad.
There are people employed in businesses in Nigeria that were started by Nigerians abroad or Nigerians who returned to Nigeria with money made abroad.
Let’s allow people chase their dreams – home or abroad. If you choose to stay, stay.
If you choose to leave, do so legitimately but know that your choice to leave is valid and your capacity to do more for yourself and your family will be expanded.
So, leave if you must. Immigration happens everywhere every day. Not a big deal.
Don’t let people with limited perspectives and worldviews discourage you. The world is your oyster and there’s no ceiling.
There are many people whose opportunity for global notoriety or just the opportunity for unmitigated self-actualization lies abroad.
You won’t know until you try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
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