• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Returning Nigerians: frustrated by worsening economic crisis

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Nigerians who have travelled abroad to study and are back in Nigeria are finding it difficult to adapt to the situation of things in the country as a lot has changed socially and economically since their departure.

Many of the Nigerians who have come back are frustrated that they cannot integrate, and the worsening economic crisis is forcing them to consider moving back.

However, many find themselves in a more unfortunate situation as it had become difficult for them to even go back with the prices of tickets which have tripled, leaving them with no option but to think outside the box in a bid to survive amid the tough economic situation.

Those with good business initiatives are finding it difficult to set up businesses, as the 26 percent interest rate on loan by banks continues to be more challenging especially with the turbulent business environment.

These have been the cases of many Nigerians who keep struggling after they returned to Nigeria. A friend of mine told me about a similar situation with a close friend of hers who had refused to speak to me but after so much hesitation, he finally agreed to open up.

I sympathised with him as I could see the pain in his eyes as he explained his predicament to me that sunny morning.

He seemed depressed as he poured his heart to me. Though hesitant at first, not because he didn’t want to tell me but because of the emotions that chocked him.

Babalola Tunde, Babs as his friends fondly call him, is one amongst many that has been affected by the downturn. One thing his friends can testify about Tunde is his enthusiasm to work and optimistic approach to life.

He managed to look up as he spoke to me after a prolonged silence that followed my question. “I regret coming back to this country after studying at one of the prominent medical colleges at the United States and rigorously going through the four phase programme at Glasgow. I should have just remained at the United Kingdom to earn a living and forge ahead with my academic career.”

“But I chose to come back to this failed country. I decided to come back and give back to my father’s land but little did I know that I was coming back to meet things worse than I met them five years ago before I left.

“I was looking at implementing the evidence based model I had learnt overseas in public health in Nigeria. This has to do with documentation and prevention of prevalent diseases, which is commonly used in the advanced countries. But all efforts to break through have been futile.

I was thinking of meeting and working with people with the same like mind on the model but since I came back to Nigeria, I haven’t found any. When I show people this model, it looked as though I am from another planet. I thought I had a solution, only to see that a solution in a failed system is a problem.”

He further explained that those who seemed to believe in his idea gave excuses of not having funds to support him.

These were the words of Babs as he took a deep breath and I waited for the biggest one. He added, “The challenge as I speak to you is returning back to the United States because the cost of renewing my visa has increased and cost for the flight has tripled. The fare is so high and it is unfortunate that I am just stuck in this country, trying to fit into a failed system.”

Tunde’s case may not be alien, as many may be finding themselves in worse situations today as the crash has affected the labour market.

If we can recall on February 2016, the Nigerian Immigration officers intercepted 17 Nigerians in two batches at the border. Some Nigerians were arrested by Immigration officials in Libya for attempting to cross the border into Niger on their way to Libya with no valid papers, across the (Mediterranean) sea in search of greener pastures.

One of the deportees told BusinessDay that after working and earning his salary, he was robbed and shot by some Libyans. This made him come back to Nigeria. He added that he hoped Nigeria would be a better place to get a more dignifying job and earn a living for himself and his family.

The hope of this young man and the others who are back to Nigeria to start afresh may be torn apart with the current economic slump.

With various companies in Nigeria downsizing to cut cost, many Nigerians may not get the chance of securing a job. Those who may want to set up their own small-scale businesses may find it difficult to get funds especially with the high interest rate on loans in Nigeria.

According to Nkechi Okafor, “I am a business woman and I want to set up a restaurant somewhere in Victoria Island Lagos. After staying in Turkey for a while, I came back to Nigeria and searched for a job for almost two years but did not get any. So, I decided to lay my hands on things I know how to do best.”

“I love to cook and that is why I want to have a restaurant but it has been difficult for me to get loan from the bank for the past three months. It’s been challenging for me and I just hope I will eventually secure the loan.”

Industry analyst, Simon Tumba said Nigeria is in recession so the tumbling figures are to be expected but noted that whatever challenge the country is witnessing now is not going to be protracted; predicting that the recession would begin to ease by next year.

Simon noted that those who have returned to Nigeria might be having difficulties coping with the current situation.

“We are in a recession economy so we expect to witness high unemployment, inflation and low purchasing power.”

He observed that there are measures being taken by the government and Nigerians to diversify the economy and boost agriculture, noting that by the middle of next year the economy would have improved and that would reflect positively on all other sectors of the economy.

“I believe Nigeria will achieve stability in the economy over time. If government enforces fiscal discipline and based on projections, things will get better by the middle of next year, Tumba said, optimistically.

 

IFEOMA OKEKE