By

Anusionwu Charles

Let me start with a sweeping statement, Nigeria is a mad country and you have to be mad to survive here. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, however, it is a statement of fact. You see many things that happen here and you wonder if you are really witnessing this in real life. It can be stranger than fiction sometimes.

I decided to move back around November 2015. Bought a one way ticket for a date in December and started working towards it. The closer the date drew, the more I realised I wasn’t ready for this spontaneous decision, but it had to be done.

Started speaking to a few people concerning jobs and got one with one of the most amazing organisations in Nigeria. Doing some really exciting and interesting work, sort of helped cushion the effect of moving from an ‘organised’ society to the chaos that is Nigeria.

Buried myself in work most of the time. Work involved quite a bit of travel and helped me experience Nigeria on a micro level. The general theme of nonchalance, poor customer service and our general disregard for law were reoccurring decimals in most places. I mean, I once walked into a store where I complained that the running shoe I wanted was a bit expensive and the store attendant offered to steal the shoe and deliver it to me a lesser price than his employer listed it for. Or is it walking through a security check at the airport without getting checked, cos the officer was looking forward to two hundred naira for his breakfast? These were reoccurring themes in general and at some point I got tired of demanding the right thing.
I had to take a break from my job at some point to enroll at the Nigerian Law School. It has been a fun experience and I have made some of the most amazing set of friends here. Don’t know how I would have coped with a different bunch. The change in educational system and experience was a bit of a shock and took a bit for me to adjust to, but I have adjusted.
One of the major problems I have encountered has been the disdain with which foreign graduates are viewed here. I have had people walk up to me and say things like “you went abroad because you couldn’t pass JAMB.” I don’t even bother telling such people I have a degree from the University of Lagos. Lol. It’s appalling how you are almost made to be apologetic for the opportunity to live abroad. Things gotten on merit are downplayed and reduced to the fact that you have ‘international exposure’.
There is also that thing about moving from a place where almost everything works to a place where you have to think of your security, light, water, traffic and yeye people. You are constantly stressed about one thing or the other. The loss of independence too. Parents that don’t know how you survived the years abroad, suddenly remind you that this is Nigeria and you shouldn’t be out at certain times. Someone is always calling to know your whereabout and who you are hanging with. You are reminded to ‘reduce’ yourself, so you don’t ‘annoy’ that neighbor or family member. Little deal breakers for me, but I have somehow coped with it all.
The idea of moving back home started as a decision made in a haste, but it has been worthwhile. Things might not have been 100% what I expected, but being around family has helped a whole lot. There is always the support of family to fall back on and the bank of Mummy and Daddy to always borrow from. 😎
The important lessons for me have been:
* You must have an open mind to survive here. I have had to adjust a lot to avoid slapping people in public.
* There are so many opportunities here. You just have to be smart and see the many gaps staring you in the face.
* You must be street smart. Know when to dump your innit and hit them with Yoruba or Igbo. No time to fall mugu with innit 😂. Your innit accent can get you a job, meetings, seats at events and could also be the difference between you getting small chops at that event and hunger wiring you.
* Lower your expectations and you will be okay. Sounds absurd, but my first week back was miserable. I lowered my expectations of customer service and people and that has saved me so much heartache.
* Let no one deceive you, cos after a few weeks you don wash finish. Your family will stop asking your whereabouts and they will start serving you just one meat. That thing is too painful. It was the most painful part for me.
* Always be prepared for anything. Nigeria is the real definition of “Eyan le ku any f**king time” (ELKAFT). I have spare faaji (party) clothes in the car. You don’t know where opportunities or faaji can meet you.
The most important lesson of all, moving back is not something to jump into. You might want to start with visiting and getting used to the environment before plunging fully into the chaos called Nigeria. Always have a plan B. Your plan B could range from having a generator for when PHCN strikes to having a valid visa or ticket to take off again when it gets too crazy for you.
Like I said in my opening sentence, it’s a mad place and you need to be mad to survive here.