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An encounter with two Nigerians living in Iraq

Tar teaches politics and international relations and Lawrence teaches information technology, both in the University of Kurdistan-Hawler, in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. Their…

Tar teaches politics and international relations and Lawrence teaches information technology, both in the University of Kurdistan-Hawler, in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. Their fears of stepping into a country engulfed in an intra-tribal war and roadside sporadic bomb attacks, according to them, was allayed when they landed at Erbil, the capital of the Federal region of Kurdistan, Iraq. In this encounter, these Nigerians explained how they live comfortably in that war-torn country.

Who are they?

Dr Tar, a Kanuri, explained that he actually started his education in Nigeria. “I did my first and second degrees in Political Science and International Relations respectively from the University of Maiduguri.  I proceeded to the United Kingdom in 2000 and did my PhD there. I worked in the United Kingdom for a few years. Then, I got a job in the Middle East in the University of Kurdistan-Hawler in Iraq and moved there since October 2008. I teach politics and international relations that include courses like public policy analysis, conflict resolution and development studies,” Tar told Sunday Trust.

Lawrence, an Igbo man, said “I left Nigeria in 1984 to Belgium. While in Belgium I did a diploma in French Language.  By 1985, I went to London and did a diploma and Higher National Diploma in Business and Finance. In 1991, I moved down to Australia and had my first degree in Applied Computer. I came back to the United Kingdom in 1994. I started my masters in Computer Science and completed it in 1995. I worked for a while then went back to school and started my doctorate degree in Computer Science in Manchester. I came back to Nigeria, worked in the University of Port Harcourt for one year, where I did my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I left Nigeria to the UK in 2004, then proceeded to the United States for a while and later came back to the UK, where I finally got a job in the Middle East. I have been there in the last two years.”

Going to Iraq

Dr Tar explained that after he completed his doctorate degree in the UK, he stayed there and started working.  His journey to Iraq started when he saw an advertisement for academic vacancies in a University in Iraq and he curiously applied.  “When I was invited for an interview by the Kurdistan University, the interview was to take place in the Kurdistan Embassy in London. During the interview, one of the questions I asked the panellists was the security situation in the country, evidently engulfed in war, as well as how my personal security can be guaranteed at the Kurdistan region. I was told that Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, was safer than London. I didn’t quite accept that. I thought it was a joke. But, I consulted with my family and decided to give it a go. I went there in September, 2008 on a one year contract and since, it has been fantastic and I renewed my contract,” Tar said.

On the other hand, Dr Lawrence told Sunday Trust even though he was apprehensive at the beginning with the idea of working in Iraq, a Muslim country, it later turned out that the decision of going to Iraq was the best he ever took in his life. “At the time I got the job, my mother was staying with me in London. When I told her that I was going to Iraq, she said what? Some of my brothers and sisters who live in the UK had to summoned me and ask, why Iraq?” Lawrence said.

He added that, “I told them what transpired between me and the then head of the university, who was a military officer from the UK during the interview. I told him during the interview that we have been hearing so much about the war and the violence in Iraq. But, to my surprise, he told me that Iraq was peaceful. He said that he found Erbil more peaceful than London. I told him that I would take his words because he was a Briton and had been to the place.”

The computer scientist explained that despite those assurances, he didn’t take any chances, that was why he went to Iraq with a return ticket. “I went there with a return ticket, hoping that if things didn’t work out well I would just get the available flight and come back to London. For-

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