Japa: The truth about life abroad, how it compares to life in Nigeria,

By Reno Omokri

Nigerians in Nigeria and abroad take delight in running down Nigeria before foreigners. We have very little sense of national pride. In fact, we delight in telling others the worst about Nigeria. And often, what we talk about is an exaggeration.

I do not understand why we do this. Telling foreigners negative things about our country serves no purpose. Because they are not in a position to change our country for the better. And talking down our country will not make them esteem us higher. So, what is the point?

What is it with us that we just love to be nattering nabobs of negativity? Even if Nigeria is the worst place to live in the world (it is not), it is only we, as Nigerian citizens, that will change it. No superhero White saviour is coming to save us from the West.

I have publicly called out Nigeria’s government. That is a very different matter. What I will not do is use my platforms to de-market Nigeria. I may have an issue with Buhari, due to his style of governance, or better still mis-governance. But I will not de-market the country in order to get at the president.

Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari and other Presidents will come and go, but Nigeria remains forever. We hope.

And Nigerians in the diaspora, who ought to be ambassadors for Nigeria, are perhaps the worst culprits when it comes to talking down Nigeria. And they project their lives in the Western world as one of endless bliss.

Many of those you think are enjoying in Canada, America, and the UK, hold down three jobs just to sustain the illusion of wealth they flash at you. If they miss three mortgage payments, their banks WILL (not may) foreclose on their homes.

They work themselves to the bone to make monthly payments for their houses, cars, furniture, and health insurance. And when they close from work, they spend hours in rush hour traffic, or waiting at sometimes overcrowded train stations, before they get home exhausted. They can hardly relax. No time to just do nothing. A lot of them have very little family or social interaction. The rat race takes the place of family.

God forbid that you are a single Nigerian female. You can stay ten years in London (not so much in America and Canada) without any man asking you out. The men are more fortunate. Oyinbo, Caribbeans and African-American women heavily dig certain types of Nigerian men (an ethnic group that likes to party and enjoy. But I don’t want to fight. So I won’t mention their name).

Expatriate Nigerians have to pay through their noses for childcare, because it is not like Nigeria, where your relatives and friends can watch your kids. And one half day in a month, they take photos in cars that they will only pay off in 5 years, and designers that they pay for monthly on their credit cards, to feed you the illusion that they are in heaven and you are in hell. Then they return to their life as worker ants.

Sadly, too large a percentage of Nigerians have been blessed by Satan to always and only say negative things about Nigeria. Get the book, the Lonely Londoners and read it. It is old. But it still accurately captures life in the Western world. We may not have a perfect life in Nigeria. But we have a good one!

Sadly, Nigerians have almost innate abilities to exaggerate the bad and minimise the good. The way we complain about Nigeria to the outside world makes our country look like hell. Balance things. Also talk about the many good things about Nigeria once in a while! You say there is nothing good about Nigeria? Really?


Cheap petrol

Free primary and secondary education

Inexpensive public universities

Good climate

World class entertainment industry


Culture of respect

Low taxes

Free travel and easy business within the ECOWAS sub-region

Personal Travel Allowance at official rates

Good cuisine (Suya and jollof)

Good beaches

Great football

I could go on. But the summary of what I am trying to say is that Nigeria is not such a bad country!

While I was at the Nigerian Law School, in 1999-2000, I had a medical emergency. I needed surgery. As a result, colleagues rushed me to Wuse General Hospital, Abuja. At that government-owned facility, they operated on me and saved my life. And it cost me NOTHING. To my knowledge, other colleagues also received free healthcare at various other government-owned healthcare facilities in the Federal Capital Territory.

Think of that before saying Nigeria is useless, because to the best of my knowledge, you cannot get access to free healthcare in many of these countries that we deify. Good healthcare? Yes. Free? Absolutely no. Be prepared to pay through your nose!

In any state of Nigeria, if you have health challenges, you can go to a General Hospital, and even though you will wait for hours, you will be seen by a doctor, without an appointment, or health insurance. You can’t get that type of on-demand doctor consultation abroad. Even with health insurance, it takes weeks to see a GP!

Many Nigerians do not even know that our food is subsidised. It was when I worked under President Jonathan I realised that every Nigerian farmer is entitled to subsidised fertiliser and almost free seedlings. And the Federal Government is a buyer of last resort for their produce!

Of course Nigeria is not a perfect country. But life in Nigeria is better than existence in many other nations. Notice I did not say more comfortable, or more prosperous, or more upwardly mobile. I said better. Why? Because there is more to life than comfort, prosperity and upward mobility!

In Nigeria, you will face hardship, but you will also encounter opportunity, cruise, and the genuine human interaction that makes life meaningful. Your neighbours know you. They interact with you. They are not cold and standoffish as you would experience abroad.

Moreover, growing up in a country where the President, legislators, judges, soldiers, police, billionaires, doctors, pilots, teachers and every other authority figure are Black, like yourself, does something good to your psyche, and gives you the type of confidence that makes you a Nigerian. The type of confidence that South Africa’s Julius Malema admires about Nigerians.

•Reno Omokri, political activist and social media influencer, originallyshared this online under the title, “Japa’ing Abroad Not Always a Good Idea”.

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