here are some Nigerians now living in various parts of the world, who have made their current country of aboard their permanent place of residence. Among them, there are those who have given up altogether on Nigeria, and wish to live out their lives and be buried out there whenever they die. A few traditionalists only hope that their dead body is brought back home upon their death, though that I suppose becomes the problem of their living relatives who would have to bear the high cost of doing so. Whichever group you find yourself in, don't feel bad; in this era of globalization and cross-civilization there is nothing wrong with crossing over permanently to anywhere in the world one feels more comfortable. Yet there are those who yearn fervently to come home to Nigeria, but frustrated that our successive military and politicians have failed to make home conducive, or profitable to apply ones exceptional talents. If you belong to this group, and have something special to offer, you need to hear what I have to say.
For the sake of clarification, I wish to state that I am not a member of Nigeria's government, or its agent in any way shape or form. I am equally not a member of the opposition whichever way you may describe an opposition, but if you had followed my postings you would have noticed that I'm often critical of our government in areas I believe that they have fallen severely short. I am, however, a Nigerian who is concerned about my country, and wishing for things to get better for the sake of my children and grandchildren yet unborn. For people at my level, it's probably too late, for there is nothing Nigeria can now offer me that can drastically alter my lifestyle, especially since I am not seeking contracts or oil wells and every other spoils that proceeds from government patronage. I had lived outside Nigeria (UK and US) for close to thirty years, and now living in Nigeria. More crucially, I had visited some developing economies during their turning point (e.g. Brazil in the eighties, and India in the nineties.) So it is safe to say that I am talking out of a reasonable wealth of experience.
If you are driving a taxi somewhere in Oklahoma, a night shift at a Jack in the Box somewhere in Wisconsin, or a thirty thousand pounds a year day job somewhere in Sheffield, this is definitely not for you. To those out there with special talents, or specialization, this may be the perfect time for you to seriously consider coming back home to Nigeria. Before you get excited, I need to warn you that our infrastructural deficit remains alarming, and there is no renewed optimism that our government is about to address this deficit in any tangible way. Kidnapping remains a clear and present danger, and yes, there is no guarantee you will make it. Having said all these, I have also calculated the risk/reward ratio for those that have high-end essential services or products to offer, and I just cannot think of a better time to seriously consider coming back. Nigeria is currently at ground zero, and I suspect that in about ten years time many of these infrastructures would have been made available. But then, your cost of entry would also be significantly higher than it is today.
If your idea is to come back and start the usual cut-and-join factory at Isolo, Aba, Nnewi, or Onitsha, please don't bother, the cost of diesel alone will eat up your profits. Besides, these things are still far cheaper to import from China as at today. But if you have a high-end service or product, please by all means stop hesitating; there is a fortune to be made in Nigeria today. Just an example, I ran into a neighbor of mine recently and during our conversation he mentioned that he owns a modern digital lab around my area. Well, it happened to be around the time I undertake my annual physical so I took him up on it and went there for a comprehensive blood work. Boy! Was I shocked? This lab is a walking distance from my house, yet it could have been in Cambridge Massachusetts. State of the art, ultra modern, and very high tech. This my neighbor has a PhD from a top UK university and after many years in the UK decided to give Nigeria a try. His molecular pathology lab handles everything from DNA analysis to the most basic blood film report. There are dozens if not hundreds of labs in Enugu, but this guy separated himself from the rest. Today, he gets steady jobs from LUTH, UNTH, Unibadan, Ife, from many private labs, some as far away as Israel to analyze high end digital work that used to be sent overseas.
And yes, he is not cheap. A comprehensive blood work that used to cost me about ten thousand naira, cost just over thirty thousand at his lab, yet I was happy to pay. Not because I have money to burn, but I know that the quality of his work is unparallel, and more especially I feel assured that the readings are just as accurate as it would be if I had done it at a lab in Mayo clinic or Johns Hopkins. All his equipments are state of the art, mostly through grants by EU and other organizations. The bottom line is that this man took a risk, and within two years is now making such a killing that he has already opened a second lab, and surely can now afford a lifestyle he could not dream of even on a hundred thousand pounds a year salary in the UK. This is just one tiny example, I know a few dozen personally, and you do not have to contend with the high cost of establishing in Lagos or Abuja. If you have a high-end specialized service or product, you can set up your business at Abeokuta or Makurdi and they will find you.
In one of my articles earlier in the year, I highlighted a manufacturer of armored electrical cable wires somewhere in Nnewi who is now the best cable wire in Nigeria, and way more expensive than any wire imported from anywhere else in the world. And by the way, the man has a Harvard MBA. Once again, it is the same concept, your product or service has to be better than your average run of the mill if you must thrive above everyone else. At such end, you can charge a considerable premium for your service or product, and your customers would be happy to pay because they know the quality they are getting. If you have a niche and a service that is not easily available, the sky is the limit for you. Nigeria is fast developing with a new breed of middle class and upper middle class that are yearning for unavailable high quality products and services. Any of you with specialization in any field can easily tap into these opportunities.
Perhaps you have a great idea, and dream or even a clear vision of what you want to do in Nigeria, but you don't think you can ever raise the money needed to pursue these dreams. Here is my advice to you. If you have lived in your home and paid mortgage for the past twenty or more years, perhaps the house is now worth five or six folds what you paid for it. It won't be a bad idea to sit down with your spouse and consider downsizing to a much smaller property while you free up the equity in your home to come and pursue this dream. Nothing great comes without risks. It is, however, important that you do a thorough research of the field of your interest before you commit any money to it. And here is another very important thing you must know; it is possible that you have a cousin or a good friend in a plum government position, a minister, a senator, a governor, or commissioner. Please do not factor them into your financial plans, they will fail you, or worse make you promises that only takes your eye off the ball, and in the end disappoint you. I know several people in Nigeria who have made serious money without mingling with politicians. You too can do so if you believe in the quality of what you are offering.
Finally, there are many of you who have what it takes to take this plunge, but are waiting for everything to be perfect before they come back home. You will be making a terrible and very costly mistake. Ask those Indians and Chinese and Brazilians who are just now returning home to start a business. They often find out that the entry cost is too high and unaffordable to them, while those who took a chance a decade or two ago are now eating their lunch. I don't want to become the patriotic flag bearer for the nation of Nigeria especially since I have never benefited one dime out of Nigeria's money. But I am a Nigerian who would love to see my country develop, and indications are that our politicians will not bring about development since all their fights is about power and money sharing. I also know that upwards of seventy percent of economies like that of the US and Germany is driven by privately held small and medium size companies. We, the Nigerian citizens are indeed the ones we are waiting for. It would be great if our government has done their part by providing infrastructures, but they haven't.
Shall we then give up on Nigeria because of these selfish fools? Of course not, absolutely not. Great turnarounds start with little movements, which Nigerians in Diaspora have the capacity to bring about albeit on a small scale. Someone has to show those service providers and manufacturers in Nigeria a better way, a more competitive and profitable way, and by the time they catch up with you, you'd have made your fortune and at the same time contributed to the development of your country. Or perhaps you'd wait as long as it takes, for others to take the plunge first and develop your country before you have the courage to attempt. If I may use a metaphor for the stock market, "Buy on rumor and sell on news, or buy low and sell high." This is only a rumor, even better than a rumor. It is an inside information, you can use it to cash in or be left holding the bag when you decide to come back and invest in ten or twenty years time. Think wisely while you still have an advantage.