Nigerians abroad are picking dollars off the streets – Peju Akande

Nigerians abroad are picking dollars off the streets – Peju Akande

Oh, not true?

Then, why do we often imagine anyone who resides abroad should solve all our money problems back home in Naija?

I followed a friend down to the passport office few weeks back; of course the place was teeming with Nigerians who want to travel out, either for the proverbial Golden Fleece or just to run away from the general madness we call life in Nigeria.

‘It will cost you N60, 000 naira,’ the immigration woman we approached announced.

Haba, madam! When did it jump to that, from how much, sef?

‘It’s a lost and found case, we have to notify Abuja, you also need to get a police report…’

My friend left in anger and  it looked like the dream of going to the abroad just dimmed a little.

What wouldn’t we all give to join our fellow brethren living in the abroad; there’s constant electricity and basic amenities are just taken for granted. Those are the principal reasons many Nigerians flee abroad or how else can you explain the scramble for anywhere abroad. Talk about  countries like Croatia, and you find that Nigerians don’t much care, so long as there’s winter coat to be worn and photos to send home to make other less fortunate souls, who can’t even afford a passport, green with envy.

I used to have a friend, God only knows where he is now…he smuggled himself abroad by forging passports et al, in the early 419 days when greedy oyibos fell easily for the fabu our yahoo yahoo boys spun. This friend was eventually deported home; he told me years later that he would never forget his experience of life in America – constant light even on the streets, cast off furniture to be picked off the streets and thanks to Salvation Army, he could be sure he would  never go to bed hungry to bed. Looking wistfully into the distance, he told me he would die trying to go back.

He did, but never contacts old friends. I heard rumours here and there that he has assumed another name and is constantly on the move trying to avoid the law. There are millions like him out there. They live a lie and sell us dummies that make us all imagine we would just get abroad and pick off the dollars lying fallow.

Life abroad for Nigerians isn’t about the boots and coats and sweaters and snow we view with so much envy. The photos don’t tell us the taxes they have to pay or the bills they accumulate or the fact that they just finished one work shift and are on their way to the second or that that very day, their water supply was cut off and so they’ve been bathing in the neighbour’s bathroom. We all assume all is well and they are living the life!

The truth is, many of our people living abroad are struggling, working 9-5, day and night to put food on the table for their families and send a lil home…for those with requisite skills.

The majority, with no skills are struggling as our certificates here mean nothing to them over there. Many times they are only useful as cleaners in old people’s homes or places where invalids are catered for, yeah vacancies exists in these places abroad and our people are filling them in droves.

Should this discourage anyone?

No, smart young Nigerians, particularly the ladies are learning vocations; they are learning to sew for the masses of Nigerians who wish to dress like home people; they are learning to make hair; they get home service calls every week. They are learning to fill in gaps where craft is needed.

I met a few plumbers and carpenters, who say they get the odd jobs in addition to being Janitors and they just manage to get by on the extras. These often have more to spare than the average professional in Nigeria who relocates abroad.

Why can’t a degree holder learn a vocation to get by especially if they must travel abroad?

And oh, this is not to say some of our professionals aren’t living good…just not as much as they want us to believe; they work hard for the money and are watchful over every penny they spend, which is why they will give you a lecture over every money they send home…*tongue out*

Can’t blame them; blame the system that frustrates its people making them feel that the grass is greener in the abroad.

photo credit:


Read more from Peju

I hate cooking, shoot me – Peju Akande

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