When I graduated from the university in 1994, the American visa lottery program (Diversity Visa) was on and new, having been established by the US Immigration Act of 1990.
Some friends applied and got it, but somehow I was not passionate about it.
Even with all the military misrule and instability caused by the June 12, 1993, presidential election annulment, somewhere in my subconscious, I believed that Nigeria would turn around. I felt it was not patriotic to leave Nigeria.
I searched for a job and got one and focused on my career.
When I got my first visa to the US, some friends and kinsmen asked me if I would return to Nigeria. I said with certainty that I would return within a week. And I did.
The same thing happened when I went to the UK some years earlier. I was eager to return home.
Note that all this while, I was not working in any big company or holding any political or government post. My salary was so-so – just enough to take care of my basic needs.
When the Canadian permanent resident program started in 2002, after the 2001 passage of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I was also not interested because somewhere in my subconscious, I didn’t want to give up on Nigeria. Close friends and family members left, but I refused to apply.
I don’t like regretting my actions, because I usually don’t act based on impulse. I act with deep conviction. But looking back, it was a bad decision not to leave Nigeria.
Leaving Nigeria is not a lack of patriotism. It is a matter of finding personal peace and happiness. Nigeria is a killer of dreams. Also, life means very little in Nigeria. When someone is killed, people exclaim for a few minutes and then face other issues. Life continues.
Forget how much you earn or how comfortable you are in Nigeria; if you have the opportunity to leave Nigeria, please do so as quickly as possible.
You alone cannot salvage Nigeria. There is no sign that Nigeria even wants to be salvaged.
When and if Nigerians are ready to salvage Nigeria, they will do so, if it is still possible to do so.
But if you are still in Nigeria, make sure you obtain your voter’s card and vote for your conscience during any election, without listening to what naysayers and those who love to maintain the status quo say.
When the situation of things is bad, all options can be explored.
May God continue to protect us all.