*SPOILER ALERT* Contrary to what the title of this post suggests, you’re not about to read a country-bashing entry.
This time last year I was in a state of utter confusion. I was living in New York and loving it – had made great friends, had a cool place and really loved my job. However, I also knew if I didn’t get my ass out of America in a months time, I’d probably have immigration folk sending me back on a one-way (never to return) ticket to England!
Leaving far too many belongings behind, (thought I’d be back in a jiffy) I left to London
excited scared of what the future had up its sleeve for me. I desperately wanted to return to New York ASAP but evidently Mr. Future had a different idea.
I spent most of my days watching daytime television, chatting with my sister and playing with my nephews. I freelanced writing stories for an American news startup for a few hours a day but still felt totally jobless. It was time for change and Nigeria seemed the best place for that change.
If you read the post I wrote just before I left London for Nigeria to start my new job, you’ll see that deciding to relocate was not an easy decision to make. I had to say goodbye to my family and friends (and constant electricity) with the hope that I would have an amazing adventure without getting kidnapped!
My eight months in Nigeria was definitely the craziest period in my life! There were days where I was ready to throw in the towel but then there were also days that I truly felt moving out there was the best decision
my dad I had ever made! At work I was pushed to achieve and encouraged to be as creative as I could. Despite the many challenges any journalist or even worker will inevitably face working in Nigeria, my confidence, skills and wisdom definitely rose. Nigeria has a way of forcing you to be decisive, slightly aggressive and most importantly, street-smart – areas I definitely had room for improvement in.
Nevertheless serious events in my Motherland really made me homesick and ready to leave. I was still prepared to stay after the fuel subsidy crisis but the mother of all disasters occurred after. Exactly three months ago I lost someone incredibly dear to my heart. He wasn’t killed by the car crash he was in but by incompetence, mismanagement, negligence and greed. The same killers that were responsible for the Dana Air crash that took place a few days ago.
In this day and age, a patient in Nigeria with serious injuries could face not being attended to until morning if they were injured at night. Someone with internal bleeding could be sent to another hospital because the hospital is ill-equipped and doesn’t have blood. In short, many Nigerian hospitals suck so God help anyone who gets a serious injury there…
Perhaps if I hadn’t experienced my loss, I wouldn’t have been able to fully comprehend why many Nigerians on my Twitter timeline tweeted such bitter anti-government/anti-Nigerian establishment tweets like these:
“@Austinokonakpan: We have given them reasons to ground Dana but who can help us suspend this terrible leadership in Nigeria?”
“@Steve_eko: 4get about d national flag, if most politicians fly their greed at half mast for just 1 second we’ll have a better country”
“@omojuwa: How many times have you been driven in a Lagos bus where you suspected the driver was “managing” the brakes? #Nigeria”
“@Mekus_Mekus: Pls FG suspend DANA and jail all the Indian owners”
The fact is, there is sooooooo much work to be done in Nigeria. More than I’m prepared to wait for, which is why I’m (sadly) happy to not be there any more. I’m someone who gets incredibly frustrated by the lack of good governance I see in the world and thus find it difficult to live where I see the result of bad governance daily. When I lived in New York I actually tried to stop reading articles about UK politics shortly after David Cameron became Prime Minister. I was sure his party’s changes would grind my gears so I decided to be a wise monkey (similar to my attitude towards watching Nigeria’s football team).
Things did get bad and I only managed to abstain from UK political articles for a day or so anyway! I could follow what was going on but from a distance. A bad attitude? Definitely. Alas, I found myself exactly a year after the general election booking my flight back to London. Perhaps frustration can be deemed a virtue when it motivates one to fight for positive action? I think that’s Nigeria’s saving-grace – the people’s frustration. It is what makes them take to the streets and demand for change….So although I’m glad to be away from the fight for now, I’m sure (if I know myself well) I’ll at some point want to be back fighting. Not a physical fight but the good fight I like to believe I can have via my reporting.
So as usual, this post has been incredibly therapeutic as I have come to realise exactly why I’m glad I left Nigeria — I’m
a big baby not ready to “fight”. Since I said goodbye to the greatest man I knew, Nigeria stopped feeling like home. I lost the one person that made me feel confident in my decision to move there in the first place… Perhaps one day Nigeria will again feel like home but for now I’m happy to be in my other home – London.