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Groaning from afar

In light of the elaborate myths woven around living abroad, there is a common, albeit erroneous, assumption among many home-based-Nigerians that their foreign-based countrymen living…

In light of the elaborate myths woven around living abroad, there is a common, albeit erroneous, assumption among many home-based-Nigerians that their foreign-based countrymen living in some rich and efficiently managed countries are simply spared the “frustration” associated with being Nigerians.

This longstanding assumption further takes root as the country’s socio-economic crisis gets worse that explains why an increasing number of people subscribe to it as Nigerians go through, perhaps, the worst ever economic hardship in the country, which is rightly or wrongly nicknamed ‘Buhariyya’. Also, it’s quite easy to perceive this assumption particularly in conversations involving home-based-Nigerians and their foreign-based countrymen, where it’s often quite difficult for the latter to convince the former over the erroneousness of this assumption. After all, with the alarming rate at which poverty ravages lives and unleashes despair throughout the country, on the one hand, and the obvious disparity in the quality of life between Nigeria and elsewhere, on the other, one can understand why the largely poverty-stricken Nigerians cling to this assumption.

Besides, against the backdrop of this unfortunate situation in Nigeria where barely reasonable access to the already poor-quality public services is increasingly becoming an exclusive privilege for a tiny and yet dramatically shrinking segment of the population, the largely barely convenient lifestyle that foreign-based Nigerians take for granted in their various countries of residence, and which isn’t actually more than what every human being should enjoy as a fundamental right after all, would unsurprisingly pass for a luxury lifestyle in Nigerian standards.

Understandably, therefore, many home-based-Nigerians simply assume that their foreign-based countrymen are spared the “stress” of living in Nigeria. They i.e. the former simply assume that the latter do not actually worry about the situation back home. They also apparently downplay their frustration about the situation in Nigeria and their worry about its fate.

However, they express disbelief on realizing that many foreign-based Nigerians don’t only turn out to be apparently more worried about the country than they are, but are also even better informed about the happenings in the country than they are, for that matter. Interestingly, ironically, some of them who have apparently given up discourage their foreign-based countrymen from being “unnecessarily” worried about the happenings in Nigeria, under the pretext that the situation in the country is simply irredeemably hopeless.

Anyway, the reality is that, foreign-based Nigerians do equally groan under a nagging sense of frustration due to Nigeria’s persistent failure to achieve progress befitting its immeasurable potentials. Being based outside the country perhaps only spares them the physical aspect of the same stress their home-based countrymen groan under. However, they groan under persistent frustration seeing how other countries, many of which are far less endowed than Nigeria in terms of potentials, have nonetheless achieved what Nigeria cannot currently even dream of achieving, in terms of economic prosperity and socio-political stability. Their sense of frustration on this particular point is perhaps even worse than that of their home-based countrymen many of whom have already been rendered too disappointed to hope for any substantial progress; hence they hardly expect it in the first place. Whereas, their foreign-based countrymen see in their various countries of residence how political will, patriotism and ambition define governance and indeed translate into sustainable progress in all fields of human endeavour, leaving them wondering in anguish whether they would ever see similar things in Nigeria.

In addition to this constant emotional stress, they are also affected by any further decline the country suffers in, say, the economy, in many ways. For instance, being a major source of cash inflow into the country, Nigerian expatriates around the world who inject more than twenty billion dollars into the nation’s economy yearly, in official estimate, as the actual amount is probably more than that, which (i.e. the official estimate) is more than one third of the country’s total budget, through their regular remittances to relatives and for other purposes, have equally been affected by the current economic recession in the country, which translates into the need for more resources in order to meet the challenges of the associated unprecedented wave of inflation in the country.

By the way, many home-based Nigerians don’t seem to realize the significance of Nigerian expatriates’ remittances in the nation’s economy, apparently because its direct beneficiaries simply take it for granted.

However, I was in attendance at an occasion in Abu Dhabi when President Buhari, who was on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates, met with some Nigerian residents in the UAE, where he acknowledged the economic significance of these remittances and emphasized the need to keep it up.