By Adewale Sanyaolu Despite being a country with the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, Nigeria, according to Foraminifera, a marketing and research firm, spends about N2 billion yearly on importation of asphalt, a derivative of bitumen. The occurrence of bitumen deposits in Nigeria is twice the amount of existing reserves of crude…
SOME Nigerians yearn to relocate permanently to Nigeria! Some are making serious plans to return home for good, but they worry about security problems and social maladies in the country. Before I get into this group of people, let me first illuminate some recurring phenomenon in various Nigerian communities in the United States.
Sometime ago I wrote a piece captioned, “Stranded in a foreign land,” which aptly illustrated the unbridled emotions of some Nigerians who are now either in their golden years or languishing in retirement homes in various American cities with only memories of their childhood and early adolescent years to hold on to. In that piece, I said that these individuals fret over their unknown future as they further advance in age with minimal or limited retirement income. Their fears emanate from the fact that they feel stranded and could decipher what their loved ones would do if they die in a foreign land, especially when they don’t have a structure in their ancestral homes. It is emotionally draining for people to be consumed with the thought of hopelessness for the rest of their lives. This group of individuals feels trapped in a cave with an occasional shadow of light.
The deeming light reminds them of the inevitable, but strongly conjures up their feelings of being incarcerated by their unique circumstances. Interestingly, the way they feel about their situation could be better imagined than rationalized. So, people foreign to the situation have no experience to judge, evaluate or proffer solutions to the myriad of problems our people in the Diaspora in general are facing. Thus, conjectures of those foreign to the discouraging situations are merely flashpoint not grounded in reality. These stranded individuals are completely hamstrung by the circumstances with no viable options to return to Nigeria alive.
In that piece, I illustrated the fears of many Nigerians here. I shared that “As age creeps in on Nigerians in the Diaspora, death is not the only thing they agonize over. Some of these Nigerians have health problems that may be related to age. Depending on the type of ailment, some are alive today because they are in this country where they are receiving quality healthcare. If they had gone back to Nigeria either before or after developing health problems, they would have been dead by now. Also, most of the Nigerians who came here in the late 1970s and early 80s depending on their age when they left the country are now reaching the retirement age. They will be joining other Nigerians who are already living in the retirement homes. In most big cities, where there is a large Nigerian population, their number in the nursing homes is increasing. It is a scary thought to be placed in a retirement home. That is simply not our culture, but we have overstayed our welcome. Our kids will make the decision for us when the time comes—whether to be put in a retirement home or be buried here.”
However, it is safe to interject here that there are Nigerians in the Diaspora who are comfortable with their own situation and would like to remain here, where they call home, until their death. Some of these people have even bought a burial plot for their final resting place. Others have bought funeral insurance to relieve their relatives of the burden in the event of their demise in the United States. Nevertheless, a very few Nigerians are in this category, the funeral insurance holders.
Well, in recent years, expats returning to their home country, Nigeria for any reason, have always been encouraged to stay for a very short period of time and go back to the United States or Europe. Not only that they are asked to make it brief, but they are also advised to maintain a low profile and be very cautious regarding their movements. They are strongly advised not to be reckless in their behavior while in Nigeria; they are warned to be careful about what they eat and drink. With all these warnings, staying for a brief time there becomes a wise decision for many.
But lately, a great swath of these Nigerian professionals in the United States, particularly those who have recently retired or nearing retirement, are mulling over returning to Nigeria permanently. So, while some Nigerians are fretting over visiting Nigeria or relocating there permanently because of insecurity and other issues, others are meticulously planning their relocation to Nigeria. Each individual planning to come home is on different stage in their plan of action.
Some have built homes in their ancestral homeland, as well as other houses in some major cities in the East. Others are beginning to build their homes after several years abroad. The most important thing in all these is that these individuals have a strong spirit of going home while they are still strong and active.
As part of their preparation, some of them have started profusely investing in Nigeria. Regardless of the situation in the country, it is still the best investment destination for most Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora. The return on investment is higher than in most places. Nevertheless, the risk is equally higher. People investing now are doing so for the opportunity to have a sustainable income when they finally return home.
The two major motivations driving these individuals home are two-fold. They have sufficient retirement and/or investment income that will adequately sustain them in Nigeria. Some in this group are scheduled to be drawing about $5,000 to $7,000 monthly from their retirement. Some may be drawing from Social Security in addition to retirement money. Those who have viable investment in Nigeria will be getting some money in addition.
Also, these individuals are coming come to contribute in various ways to the development of the country. They are coming to serve the country in whichever way it suits them.