What Happened To The #Nigeria Dream?

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A couple of months ago I ran into a child hood friend of mine who had just delivered a baby…actually it was his wife that delivered the baby … 

At the point of our catching up I found out that his wife delivered in the United States Of America. Which was weird to me, because from his story, she was fully pregnant when she was granted her VISA. Back in the days I heard stories about women who would go to the embassy but conceal their pregnancy just to get a visitors VISA and a chance at delivering their kid in America.

But now as long as you could prove that you could pay for all the baby’s medical costs in the United States without putting a burden on the state you were granted a VISA. So I was curious…how much exactly did he have to spend or show or prove that he had.

It was a staggering $30,000!

“This is not a typo.” “You really counted 4 zeroes.” “Don’t leave your seat.”

I just shrugged like…$30,000 was nothing. But inside me I was like “chinekeeee.” $30,000 to born pikin in America? Maka gini?

dreamyinstaBut this is the why…it’s the benefits. The health care, the security, the job opportunity, the not having to apply for that visa to travel to that country because the blue passport is accepted almost everywhere. The insurance plan. The my kids can apply for me in the future.

But this is nothing new, in fact it has been the norm.

Everyone of us knows a friend or a family member that is riding on that Blue passport. Or people who get pregnant in Nigeria disappear overseas to deliver and come back with a yankee baby fully equipped with the blue passport. And people willing to spend as much as $30,000 to make that happen!

What craziness…or so I thought.

Until I realized that my parents did the same thing when they shipped me out of Nigeria to go and get an Engineering degree and then told me not to come back without that greencard. That greencard that will cause boys to marry other people’s grandmothers. That will see Nigerian families coordinating serial marriages to turn the Green passport into a Greencard. That will see Nigerians scrambling to shell out thousands of dollars just for a chance at that American dream.

So I ask…what happened to  the Nigeria dream?

Or do we even have a Nigerian dream? Sadly we don’t…or rather we do, but the Nigerian dream (and many people will try and deny it) is to become a permanent resident in some other country and possibly become a citizen in that country so that we can live that country’s dream.

That is sadly the Nigeria dream….our current reality until things change.

twitterWritten & Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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59 comments on “What Happened To The #Nigeria Dream?

  1. Louis on said:

    Its a crazy situation that I cannot make sense out of. But at times a few thoughts hit me.
    Since its been said that nobody knows the future, I think then that some years from now ( maybe 20 – 30 years) nigerians would ‘sort of’ take over the world!

    Its definately not gonna be with technology or military might, but I just want to believe that some sense would come of all this many years from now

    There is a sign to what I’m saying and its already happening. Any time I watch nigerian artists (davido, wizkid etc) perfom on concert in europe and america, what I see is that they have a large crowded audience. Although there are foreigners in the crowd, there’s always hundreds and maybe thousands of nigerian blood striving to hear a sound that relates to their souls

    But we need to fix this country nonetheless

  2. dolapo on said:

    Heart wrenching, being in the business of international student recruitment, I watch everyday as people apply for visas to travel to UK, US, Canada, and far away Australia. People just want to live the “Nigerian Dream” which in itself is to live the dream of some other developed country. The brain drain is real!!!

  3. Fajans on said:

    Thanks Offili…..Nigerian dream doesn’t exist anywere..if it does then I guess our politicians are the ones living the nigerian dream…. Respect to Kaduna Nzeogwu and January 1966 boys …I hope you understand what I mean.

  4. There is a Nigerian dream actually. The dream is to have a greencard or become a citizen of any other country apart from Nigeria with the U.K & USA being the leading contenders.
    and I don’t blame anybody, lets take a look at successful people in Nigeria with Ofili as a case study: they all trained outside the country. Even if u didn’t initially, somwhere along the line u leave for one masters degree. So success equates to Americanah or londoner.
    Also is it not better one spends abt 4.5million naira now to make one’s pikin an Americanah thereby clearing future obstacles out of his path & ensuring he doesn’t marry his grandmother for a green card becos there’s nothing to be proud about being a Nigerian unless u count Boko Haram as a milestone.
    While reading this, I thought about the 2nd stanza of our dear national anthem which states “great lofty heights attain” & it seems that Nigerians only attain this height after a hiatus from the country. Soo there’s no cause for alarm Ofili, as we r actually living the Nigerian dream & its obvious even US embassy has realised how much our dreams boost their economy

  5. @Fajans the Nigerian dream is either to have dual citizenship with education in US or UK inorder to become CEO or the next Tiwa

    or to stay in Naija & become a politician

    or to stay in Naija, not go to school & become a member of Boko haram
    (Just took an opinion poll)

  6. “but the Nigerian dream (and many people will try and deny it) is to become a permanent resident in some other country and possibly become a citizen in that country so that we can live that country’s dream”

    That was really painful to read, mostly because of the heavy truth you unloaded in this piece. I think that for those people who dream of a better Nigeria, the current state of events; especially in the last year has cause them to lose hope.

    The Nigerian dream as you described it is very real, especially in light of the current state of affairs.

    Nice post Ofili
    Monale Alemika latest post is Kill Them All…My Profile

  7. We may Have to wait for vision 2020..20 to come to pass before we get to experience the Nigerian dream. Until Then, Diaspora dream will remain our reality.

  8. Really true. My elder sister was delivered of her two sons in the US after having carried the pregnancies here in Nigeria. Most Nigerians, if you ask them, still want to leave the country for the US and the likes. But I believe, having come to terms with the problems of our dear country, that the Nigerian dream should be going to the US and the likes to acquire all the necessary skills an experience in my field and coming back to Nigeria to contribute to her growth and development using them.
    Okechukwu Amako latest post is Bypassing Needle-Dependent Insulin Therapy in Diabetic Patients.My Profile

  9. Sad but it’s reality. I still look forward to that day that all people would dream and love to grow with a happy and contented life in their own countries.

  10. The Nigerian Dream died a long time ago ….along with infrastructure, national pride, technological advancements, etc. But dreams can be resurrected, or new ones created. The choice is ours.

  11. keiskwerd on said:

    You read books like ‘there was a country’ and u realise there must have been a dream. You listen to tales of parents who stayed on in 9ja and u believe there must he been a dream. Somewhere along the line it gave way to a dream in a dream….to live the American dream. I can’t say we have a dream, cos if we do, and it’s sd b a national one, then it should be collective, we should all know it and believe in it. But one thing I do know is that we have hope in our nation. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a dream. The other thing I do know is that I need to give my kids a choice and it comes in blue…..

  12. olabanji kayode on said:

    Nigerian bloggers and journalist in Nigeria are one of the worst in the entire world. They wite so many untrue, unresearched, shallow items knowing fully well that Nigerians are looking for answers and will swallow what they can find.

    Nigerians are not the Largest migrants in the US. A lot of countries have representation in the united states including Europeans. Mexicans who are their next door neighbour flock into the country everyday. The American dream has been sold to all countries of the world. We should even proud that Nigerians in the US are one of the most educated group unlike some other migrants.

    Please let’s stop painting a picture of doom when talking about our country. Being angry with politicians is OK but forsaking your country is not. Ghanaians that went to the world cup are seeking asylum.Chinese are moving to America in batches. Not all of us believe in running away. My colleagues beg me everyday to apply for a visa as I will be given but I have-not even applied for a passport. If u lost your Nigerian dream, don’t discourage those of us that still have it.

    I am expecting attacks from your fans but it’s OK. Freedom of speech

    • Princess on said:

      I don’t think the point of Ofili’s post was to say that Nigerians are the largest immigrant community in the US. He never said that, in fact.
      Also, I don’t think he wrote this to discourage people from having a Nigerian dream or to encourage you to apply for a visa or passport (although, friend, I would!). I think this is commentary on a very real, very worrying state of things: people are giving up on Nigeria and finding a way out. This post is asking for thought towards change. Read it again.

      • Olabanji, yours and Princess’ interactions with this post are most fulfilling. I get your point and I have also refused to apply for those visas for similar reasons.

        But I also feel that this article wasn’t written to disarm you and I.

    • Oga, without a passport, you have no international mobility. If you don’t have mobility, how can you see what is outside, to learn more and create a better inside? Or will we develop a gas turbine engine at Nigerian Airforce Base, Kaduna, all by ourselves? Did America and the UK became great by sitting at home? They travelled, conquered and brought home the spoils! We must do the same, and by this, I mean attaining knowledge and skills that we can use here to develop.

      You owe it to your country to travel, become enlightened, and implement your enlightenment at home. Apply for your passport, abeg!

    • @olabanjikayode. No attack from me personally. I’d hug you if I could find you. We exaggerate our shortcomings sometimes. But please, travel is also a form of education as you get to share values and cultures so if your friends want you to visit, be free to do so and keep the relationship. Thanks for this balance. It helps to create focus and reminds us that not everything about Naija is bad.

      • Ofili
        Ofili on said:

        Daba travel is great. But Nigerians are travelling and not coming back to Nigeria. That’s the main issue to me.

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      “Nigerians are not the Largest migrants in the US”

      100% correct, but this article has nothing to do with that.

      “We should even proud that Nigerians in the US are one of the most educated group unlike some other migrants.”

      No we shouldn’t because that stat is meaningless if those highly educated Nigerians don’t come back and make an impact in Nigeria.

      “My colleagues beg me everyday to apply for a visa as I will be given but I have-not even applied for a passport. ”

      I am very happy for you but reality is that you are an outlier…a rarity. Nothing bad with that, except that it does not cover up the fact that Nigerians are trying to leave Nigerian at a large rate and those that have left are not keen on coming back.

  13. Princess on said:

    I know this is a couple of days late but…
    This is particularly poignant to me because I woke up to the post JUST after I had a dream about finally being given an American visa and frantically checking how long it was for, wondering how easy it would be to convert my tourist visa to a student one, gleeful to find that I was in New York for the meantime shaaa, and then upset to discover it was a dream. I don’t often have dreams like this so the coincidence was striking.
    It always saddens me to hear about the clamor for other countries’ dreams. I take it personally and I cannot understand why…(that confusing mix of feelings when you know the insults and criticism are justified but you cannot accept them being in anybody’s mind but yours)
    It might be stubborn and naive but while I see the sense (and perhaps the kindness) of giving your children that ‘blue choice’ in the home of the brave, I cannot stop seeing the decision to give birth there as some sort of betrayal. I’ll support other people, and watch them live the benefits, I’ll read posts (and comments) like this and nod and shake my head in agreement and sadness, heck I’ll even dream about not having to dream about visas, but somehow I cannot shake the feeling of guilt that resembles the one that follows that occasional wish for someone else’s parents .

  14. There is a Nigerian dream folks.
    We are the dream. Dreamkillers abound but they never killed all dreams all the time. We undoubtedly have a lot of what it takes to be great but we lack the collective brawn to actualize our dream-as a people. This collective thrust died when ‘they’ came to ‘civilize’ us. The remnants of our vigour can be found here and there. People have stayed and made it big in Nigeria and for all you care,while we are miles away from that glorius destiny, we fare better than citizens of most of the most advanced countries including ‘those lands of our dreams’.

    If there are people thriving in this unfriendly clime of lack of basic infrastructures, then all that is needed is a collective WILL to thrive as a people. How can we do this? Get daring people who have a sense of shame when faced with failure. Proud patriots. Not these shameless myopic slaves who dare show their faces where leaders of great nations meet to talk. These leaders thriving on the reasoning and resolute weakness of their citizens. We are clogged with slaves to moral decadence who appear to be the only ones with the thirst to lead.

    I have a dream, like most Nigerians, and our collective dream is the Nigerian dream, not the comfort we get in foreign lands at (oftentimes)an unbearable cost. If one day, we find our ways out of this shore, our hearts will remain in our home while we struggle to strive as foreigners with our heads wherever we flee to.

    There is a Nigerian dream and it is you and I.
    The fact that there are still Chike Ofilis and we, their consumate readers, is a testament to this.

  15. Our man, Okechukwu, this is a fundamental piece that goes into the soul of not only the Nigerian but also the African, where ever he/she might be. But hear this clearly : We also exist, as a part of the great Nigerian people, who have remained here not because we did not have the opportunity to travel to settle in foreign lands.We are here because we owe ourselves a duty to bring development home. That is why we were born into Nigeria and Africa. The development in America and other such countries is not the product of those countries’ lands, air or water.It is the product of the people who inhabit those countries.Check:U.S.A., Australia and Canada before the arrival of the Europeans Some of us are not politicians. We may travel abroad, but abroad is not our home. God is not a fool to have put us in Nigeria. Businessman Aliko Dangote did not need to become an American citizen to become what he is today. In fact, some of us are natural citizens of two countries but choose to pitch our tent with Naija. And, with Almighty God on our side, Nigeria will be great. God bless Nigeria. God bless her people.

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      The article is not saying Nigeria does not have hope. I just know that an American will not spend $30,000 to born their pikin in Nigeria and will not line up in the Nigerian embassy except they are getting a $100,000+ expat package. That is the reality. Nothing wrong with dreaming o. But the current dream (from my own observation) is that Nigerians are jetting out of Nigeria and not coming back.

  16. Friends, I am a British-Nigerian living in Nigeria. Many days, I ask myself why I chose to live here, when I could have chosen power, roads and healthcare. It’s not that we don’t have these here, but the reality is that their quality leaves a whole lot to be desired.

    Nigeria poses too many unnecessary questions to the progressive thinker, and this is evident in how difficult it is to even obtain a passport to get an American visa. To get a driver’s license through the correct (if it can be called that) channels is just as difficult, if not more. For these reasons, it is hard for me to begrudge anyone who seeks a better life outside Nigeria. If one can, and one chooses to, why should we oppose their personal choices, when the reality of the flipside is a difficult one?

    I know my position, and even my stating that I have a foreign passport is an aberration, but the reality is that we need to burn the candle of attaining a better Nigeria on both ends. We must change it from within and change it from outside. On the inside, there are people who are destined to be local politicians, who will change the politic of this nation for the better, and there are people who will obtain know-how from abroad, technical or otherwise, and bring it home. Note that I am not talking about “importer/exporter” business, but actual industrialisation. The world is now a global village, and in order to have impact, we must have mobility. Unfortunately, a green passport does not afford you this, not easily, at least. A red one or a blue one does. This is the sad reality of our nation.

    What we desire will be achieved by change within and change from the outside. If people who are capable believe they must grant their children the best opportunity to be relevant to their country and the world by granting them dual nationality, then so be it.

    In this, you have the reason I am here in Nigeria. I believe in this country, and I have armed myself with some know-how, which I am using in my own little way to create change. Nigeria could never have created the very specific opportunities I have now. We must all focus on making the best of our individual situations and opportunities.

    • Segun…well written. I think this is very key:

      “Note that I am not talking about “importer/exporter” business, but actual industrialization.”

      Key because even the NCD (National Content Development) program that should help industrialize Nigeria is being used as importer/exporter business. We have Nigerians that get NCD contract through connection and set up offices as fronts while foreigners run the process from behind. At the end of the day both parties are richer but Nigeria is poorer.

      Okechukwu Ofili latest post is Owgee Speaks: Is #Holland’s 3rd Place Better Than #Argentina’s 2nd Place?My Profile

  17. Princesa on said:

    There is a Nigeria Dream. Ask the Togolese, The Liberians, the people of Chad, Mali….they’d tell you they have a Nigerian Dream.

    Now I don’t know the viability of that dream, but I do know there is a dream.

    America isnt the only country worth dreaming about.

    And, Btw, can someone please convert the dollars to naija currency?

      • Better late than never… for people at the grass-root there is no Nigerian dream ( people are frustrated enter a BRT bus and you will see the dejected look on people’s faces… lets not sit and comment from our air-conditioned cars and fancy houses in Ikoyi… These people would likely give an arm to get out of the country. ).

        Talent is not enough in this country of ours you have to know someone that knows someone, even if you are not qualified as long as you are well connected you will get a foot in the door. What am trying to say here is corruption is the order of the day ( which has eaten deep into every sector of the economy and am afraid is being accepted as a norm is our society) Sigh* unlike Countries like the America and co where talent and skill is exactly what you need to excel.
        Even that well trained and sensational engineer that has a dual passport( who now has an edge over his Nigerian counterparts anyway.. ) comes home looking for opportunities still needs to be well connected or grease palms to get turn-key projects
        I am not surprised that people would be willing to pay out of their noses to give birth to their kids or get that desired blue passport… ( Which they believe will secure their future…. I don’t blame them in fact I support them)

        Nigeria’s problem is multifaceted …patriotism zero, transparency zero. it is well oooo. That said, there is always a solution to every problem.

  18. @olabanjikayode. No attack from me personally. I’d hug you if I could find you. We exaggerate our shortcomings sometimes. But please, travel is also a form of education as you get to share values and cultures so if your friends want you to visit, be free to do so and keep the relationship. Thanks for this balance. It helps to create focus and reminds us that not everything about Naija is off-kilter .

  19. Why are you people killing yourselves with all this plenty grammar? The Americans have the American dream they all aspire to, Nigerians have the ‘National Cake’ we all aspire to chop. There is no such thing as Nigerian dream. What our own shared concept of the ideal is is called NATIONAL CAKE!!!!!

  20. Omooba on said:

    I just read an article about Kayleigh Robertson on BBC website. She’s an English teenage mechanic apprentice, who was featured in the first of BBC 3’s slum survivors series during a short spell she had in Nigeria. A few things stuck out to me in the interview she gave The Guardian…

    “Working in Nigeria was hard. The working environment was also a shock to my system. Health and safety is not a big thing over there. Here, we have steel toe cap boots to protect our feet, they have flip flops. We get a car in and call it a write-off, they see endless chances to make the car roadworthy again. The time it takes them to work on something is extreme: an hour and a half to completely rebuild an engine and mount it to the car using just spanners and basic tools. It’s madness but highly inspiring.

    One of the tricks I learned out there, and I remember the most, is using a screwdriver to push the piston back in the brake calliper; I still use it now. I also learned to be more independent, to stop second guessing myself and to stand up and be heard. The experience also taught me to stop complaining about the things I have and don’t have.”

    Now, so many things can be said for and against the dream-less-ness of Nigeria and the different solutions each person is trying to implement for his or her children to place them at an advantage, I believe the color of your kid’s passport(s) will not ultimately determine how successful they’ll be.

    As I always say… do whatever will make u sleep well at night…

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      “I believe the color of your kid’s passport(s) will not ultimately determine how successful they’ll be.”

      This is beautiful to write…trust me it is. But it is not the reality. If it was the reality then why is Mikel Obi not playing for Enugu Rangers?

      Not saying that if you have a green passport you cannot make it. I mean we have Dangote … okay bad example we Tara and Linda Ikeji all who made it with the green passport. But we need more Tara’s and sadly Jason Njoku will not count.

  21. Ahn ahn, you suppose don convert that dollars to naira naa.

    Anyway, I don’t have to look too far. I even have American citizens among my parents kids, and I think it is sad that I am not one, lol. But it is all good, cos I can’t live in any other country for long, anyway.
    @ilola latest post is The “It is well” generationMy Profile

  22. Wow!Sad reality….reminds me of the movie “Anchor Baby” that starred Omoni Oboli.In the movie an illegal immigrant couple by all means wanted to have their baby abroad so that the child could have the blue passport and become a citizen of the country.In the end ,the couple lost their child to another dubious childless couple and they were deported back to Nigeria.Its high time we value our own and pursue the Nigerian dream.

  23. Truth is, there is no “Nigerian” dream. There ARE dreams and fantasies conjured by technocrats far disconnected from reality, people who think that being named “top 20”-anything is a sign of “Transformation” (or other shape-shifting, quadrisyllabic synonyms).

    please take a look at my “How to ReBuild a Nation” series at http://ohpeter.com

    and, If you don’t mind, I’ll love to use your pictures on my blog 🙂

  24. In as much as I love to be here in Nigeria without any American dream, I sure would want an American dream for my kids. I’m already saving for my future wife to have my kids in the US… A lot of benefits come with it.

  25. I believe in Nigeria and I believe Nigeria will get better but I am also mega grateful to my parents who gave me the opportunity to make a choice. Live abroad or stay at home.

    I think of coming home often but when I read the news and I hear what our beloved country is turning into, I stay put and tell myself I need to give my children the same opportunities my parents gave me.

    I know having a red or blue pali doesn’t necessarily determine how successful your kids will be but success can be read in different forms and speaking from experience, just avoiding unnecessary immigration wahala is one of the successes I will forever be grateful for.
    Ella Emma latest post is Bush Meat Say Hello to the Hunter!My Profile

  26. ambB8 on said:

    Until recently, I thot the craze about given birth to your child abroad was crazy! That changed when I started researching about doing my masters abroad! I was taken aback my the staggering gap between the fees of the foreign student and the citizens. I stopped looking at such couples as silly!

    It’s pitiable that we do not have a Nigerian dream and this is one of the fundamental challenges we have. The average Nigerian doesn’t have a picture of the Nigeria of his dream, and so there’s nothing to compare the politician’s campaign promises with.

    It’s high time we developed a Nigerian dream and imbibe it into our children as they grow and ‘force’ it on the older generation!

    God bless Nigeria

  27. Hmm The Nigerian dream!! I have a question for y’all. A Nigerian who works in an “oil company/government parastatals” here in Nigeria and a Nigerian who has a blue passport probably working @ same…. (In quote above) outside Nigeria. who’s got d more cash??? If the Nigerian working in Nigeria!! Then who says we’ve got no Nigerian dream??? If else? Enlighten me pls.

  28. Adewunmi Olujimi on said:

    My opinion is this, the Nigerian dream has already been lived, in the times when our currency was valued, when schools were of standard; not just the man who got retired and decided to use his backyard for a school, and employ SS3 students awaiting WAEC results as teachers. The Nigerian dream has long gone, and the people in a rush to move abroad, soon realize that they are living someone else’s dream. If I speak for the many Nigeria – loving diaspora, we can’t wait to come home and build up the dreams that our parents lived. Very soon many would realize and ask themselves; ‘for how long will I live someone else’s dreams?’ Why don’t I start fulfilling the dreams, that are yet to be dreamt by my children? And until then, we all would be lost in the dreams of others.

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