Iyinoluwa Aboyeji: Nigeria may never be home (YNaija FrontPage)

by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji


You’ve been put on this earth to be all you can be, like the reserves.

–            (Jay- Z) Lost Ones.

I couldn’t help noticing the kidnap of Ngozi Iweala’s mother’s dominate the headlines this week. It is just one of many stories of how like a murderous sow, Nigeria continues to eat into frustration, its brightest and best.

Hearing about the finance minister misfortune took me back seven years in time. I still remember the somber scenes from December 10th, 2005 like they were yesterday. Missing the morning bus to the airport because I slept in. Hurriedly squeezing my belongings into a maltreated piece of luggage so I could make the Shell bus. The excruciating, almost endless wait at the airport. The worryingly telling faces and hushed tones as we made an emergency stop in Lagos because there was no way we could now land in Port Harcourt. Mother’s screams of joy as I walked through the door. Watching the evening news. Bawling in my room. So many funerals. The darkness that hung over our school campus when we returned in the New Year. The empty desks and bed frames. Way too many repeat plays of  “You raise me up”.

I still don’t know how we got through it all but we did and we are better for it.

In hindsight, it all happened for a reason. December 10th made all of us stronger, more ambitious human beings. We learned the hard way, too early in our lives, that life is too short to not make it count – especially in Nigeria. Yet, killing our 60 angels is a crime I can never forgive Nigeria for.

What is interesting is that over the years, my perspective on how best to avenge their deaths has changed.

You see, when I was still a young, wild eyed, idealist I always thought the best approach was to challenge the evil in Nigeria head on brain power. In my head it was as simple as getting a world-class education, boarding the next flight home and fixing everything. I naïvely viewed Nigeria as a problem that required a series of quick fixes our ‘dumb’ leaders were too blind or lazy to see. As experience and reality humbled me, I began to understand wit and will ain’t enough to fix Nigeria. In fact, nothing is.

A few months back, after my ‘world-class education’, I seriously considered moving home. Understandably, I was haunted by my commitment to the memory of our angels. I had promised, after all and a promise is a debt. For several months at a time, I had a chrome tab open to an Air France webpage reminding me to complete a transaction I had initiated for a one-way ticket from YYZ to LOS. As I heard news of friends who moved home to make good on their commitment to Nigeria, I felt even more like a fraud. ‘Abo’, the firebrand patriot would never actually make it home.

The truth indeed is that as much I desire to, I may never actually have the privilege of truly calling Nigeria home in my life time.

Why? Well, I would be doing my future generations an obvious disservice by not enabling them make the most of the lottery of birth. Who would be happy their father’s misplaced idealism for the world’s worst place to be born lost them the chance to be born in the 9th best place best place to be born in the world?

I am not the only one. Many intelligent young Nigerians like myself are making similar choices. Who can blame them? The other option seems woefully irresponsible.

So what does this mean for Nigeria?  It means the talent Nigeria needs to get out of the hole it has found itself can only offer a helping hand from a safe distance. It also means that the next generation of young Nigerians has a better chance at becoming the next generation of Jews – great citizens of the world, unencumbered by the mental and physical prison that has doomed their homeland.

Surely, Nigeria loses in this equation.

But perhaps one day, it will be enough to remember there was a country.

Comments (10)

  1. Your opinion my friend, your opinion… I reason with you in every way, but know this, you can only say all of the above because you have the option of staying away; most Nigerians don't, many of us can't and few of us won't.

    For me, it was in 2006 I made up my mind; made up my mind never to be disappointed by the situation in Nigeria again. How, you might ask? Well by deciding not to expect anything from the government even though it is my right as a citizen. That day I made up my mind to take charge of my own needs, succeed and give back to my community. You see, once I had that in my mind, any minute thing done by the government looks like an unexpected plus to me.

    I have the opportunity to have been in India for the past 6 months for a social entrepreneurial course, but guess what? I can't wait to be back home, I can't wait to begin to implement all I've seen and learnt on this trip, I can't wait to start projects with youths on the streets and in the schools on ways to change my beloved nation for the better.

    I love Nigeria with all my heart and I won't run away from her, rather I will play my part in making her a great nation and putting her in her rightful place amongst the comity of nations.

    And lest I forget, I also had the opportunity of coming to study Energy Assets Management at Sait Polytechnic, Calgary in 2010. I turned around after passing Toefl with 18 marks above the requested mark, so its not about lack of opportunity, but desire to make and see it work HERE.

    Nigerians and Nigeria needs you, your knowledge and wealth of experience is needed here. Seeing you are an entrepreneur, I am surprised, because the opportunities that abound in this nation are endless, so why give up? Moreover your organization bookneto will be a success here too.

    Think again man, think again!

  2. A real pity! This post is so sad and melancholic!
    If only I can state, remember the Ghandi, the Mandela. Dr Luther King, and Abraham Lincons, till Christ comes, they will forever be remembered in the brightest light becos of the depth and height of their sacrifice. If all your thoughts and sacrifice revolves around your immediate future, you might be robbing yourself and our world the beauty of your enigma!
    Don't do it please! Come back home and make a difference if you can.

  3. The best way to describe this piece is a songtitle by Paramore called 'For a Pessimist, I'm pretty Optimistic'..

    Tis is truly, a sad tale, a dirge sung from lips of broken hearts , the tale of what our great Nation has become

    I admire and applaud all who have commented here……Tis all true, every little bit of it.

    However, I'd like to refer to the mention of Nigerians becoming like Jews,thriving in several nations, yet scattered and far away from home.

    If we indeed want to make Nigeria better,honestly, it has little or nothing to do with our brothers in diaspora.The Onus of responsibility lies in our hands-resident Nigerians.

    Your country might fail you, but your test of Patriotism lies in what happens after Your nation let's you down.

    The world all over is riddled with disasters and Corruption is everywhere and no matter what happens to us, Nigeria will still be home

    The Key is PATRIOTISM, If Your nation fails you,or gives you nothing to smile about,will You return the favour by doing the Same?

    Our 'All Man For Himself' attitude needs to stop.From our leaders down to the citizens,

    God Bless Nigeria

  4. Cant let them win mehn..

  5. This is saddening. But in as much as I agree with some salient points raised here, I beg not to toe the line of that thinking. I know Nigerians who despite the situation have decided coming home is better though tougher. Though my brother lives abroad I never for once gave it a thought that I should make a foreign land my home,though I feel sometimes I'm wasting away here. And Iyin should remember its only those who live through these times thatll own it eventually.it will soon be fine with Nigeria,though we are pressured to give up and run away like others did but some of us won't.

  6. Beautifully written! Well discussed.

    It is the truth many Nigerians at home and in Diaspora are very afraid to talk about, not because it is not true, not because they are not patriotic but because it is hard and seems betraying to come to terms with this truth.

  7. Let's not romanticise things: Nigeria doesn't consist of infantile people looking for who would guide them aright so they be better people. So the idea that you've now had a great education abroad and now want to come to help Nigeria does not arise. Nigerians are hell bent on doing the wrong things they've always been doing and all they want is your concurrence and your money.

    I have known this long ago and have refused to sink roots in the country if I could. With half(or less) a chance, I made away because time was fast going for me. But alas, I failed! I couldn't keep myself abroad where I intended to start a new life complete with a family of my own. I had to return or be illegal without any hope of success. Now I'm back, lost all I ever had, including the time fast running out (now I'm almost 40) and life goes on.

    My attempt to affect the narrative in the country is also being rebuffed, without debate, by the so-called "progressives" in the country whom I have contacted. So what do you do in that kind of situation? You've only got one life and you're not going to waste it begging people who you want to help to accept the help…if you have the alternative.


  8. i respect your pov and Victor's too. But you must ask yourselves why do others return. I will die in Nigeria but I am at home in a few world capitals. My children hopefully will be like me, dweller in several worlds but who yearn for Agege bread, or exercise the right to creatively insult the President or listen to Burna Boy or watch Genevieve or Funke Akindele. A soul without an anchor is cast adrift and becomes colorless, indistinct, a gray part of the collective.While I understand that all this craziness drives you away, I pray that wherever your dreams take you,Toronto or Accra you carry your home Nigeria in your heart. And you too Victor.

  9. I think this is the best piece you have ever written. I came to Nigeria yesterday and I am confronted with the same reality once again. Peter Thiel was right. There are some places where the magnitude of the mistake already made is so great that it can no longer be corrected and the best thing to do is to start something new. I used to think exactly as you were thinking. I used to also believe that those who left were traitors. I now know that they were smarter because I am now one of them. Nigeria can never be home again.

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