Saturday, March 27, 2010

When in love with home and abroad!

Name: Olanrewaju Blackman Sule
Profession: Chattered accountant
City: Atlanta, GA

His story:
When Olanrewaju left Africa, his plans were simple- get a good education overseas and come back to serve Nigeria as a politician. But Like many young Africans in diaspora, Olanrewaju Sule who migrated to the US in 2002, in search of a qualitative education to boost his high school dream and ambition of becoming a successful Politician someday, changed his plans as he acclimatized into the system abroad. His perception on life was broadened after he got into college. He studied Accounting and Finance, with a major in Business in a two years college- Georgia Perimeter and later transferred to Georgia State University where he obtained a BA in Accounting. He is now working on obtaining his Masters from the same school. When ‘Blackman', as he is fondly called by friends, is not working, he is playing soccer or socializing. He even runs a vibrant entertainment outfit with his friends called “Rock on dude”.

After about eight years of being abroad, Olanrewaju visited his motherland recently. In this interview, he shares his experience of life abroad, visiting in Nigeria again and why he is excited about returning or not returning to Nigeria:

How was life back home before relocating abroad? What was it like getting acclimated?

Back home, I was a little immature, not as buoyant. Life in Nigeria was a beginner’s life then. I was dependent— but here it is different. At first it was very difficult adjusting after I moved here. Many factors contributed to this, including having an accent and knowing everyone around had one too. It was hard to understand people and people didn’t understand me too. I also found the food here strange, and the transport system was very different from the Danfo buses I was used to in Lagos. In fact, the first two months was very frustrating. I missed my friends and trying to make new friends was very difficult. There is still so much racist attitude—everywhere, even in soccer field—people won’t play with you because you are of different color.

What excited you most about relocating
The free education—getting paid to go to school was a huge motivation. There is no such opportunity back home. Even if there was in Nigeria, there will be a slide, not everyone will be able to access it. Staying in the US has so far made me the best man I could be.

Tell us about your recent visit to Nigeria. What major changes did you see?
I saw a couple of changes—people have more stuff. When I was there, there were no movie Theaters and Plazas. This means more job opportunities are opening up for people. However, the people don’t look happy. Their facial expression didn’t give me a good vibe. Nigerians are the happiest people on earth but their facial expression didn’t depict that when I visited.
The visit to Nigeria discouraged me from considering coming home soon. Electricity is still bad. I thought things would have improved. In the US, customer service is held at high esteem but in Nigeria, it seems nobody cares. At the airport, I was trying to have my bag checked, the officer directing me pointed to a group of guys and said “go meet that man there” when there were about 5 men...

Do you see yourself in near future doing anything to serve Nigeria?
Considering how the financial sector is blooming in Nigeria, I’m actually doing a research in the investment banking, to see how we can further boost this aspect in Nigeria, even though it is not yet a popular trend.

Does that mean you are hashing out plan to come back home to Nigeria? if yes, Why? if no, why not?
Yes---there is not place like home…eventually…one day be one day--- I will go home set up a business and create job opportunities for graduates. My goal is not just to go back but to go back home and set things up. Living abroad is not the answer to everything--- diaspora is over rated—but there are opportunities here. It is left for the youths to come here and grab those opportunities for good use.

Does that not imply you are in support of brain drain?
It won’t hurt to gain experience here and learn what is making them successful and go back and use it to improve things back home.

In your opinion, what are those things ordinary Nigerians like you and I need to keep in mind in our quest to contribute to Nigeria’s development?
Education: Educate people that don’t want to be educated by telling them about the importance of education to personal and national development.
Set a goal: Know what you want out of life—have a goal in life and set how to achieve it
Community service and volunteer work: learn to give a little of your time to serve your community—giving your time shows you care about your country.
Keep good companion: Hang out with good people. If you hang around with the wrong crowd, it will rub off on you. One of the principles I learnt in High School is that joining multitude to do evil will make you evil. That has always helped me in picking the right friends.
Don’t be greedy: Be sufficient and content with what you have.
It is also important for young Nigerians to listen to what is going on around the world—current affairs—be locally aware and be globally aware too—listen to news, follow Nigerian political system, know how it works—know how the money and infrastructures is taken care of. That basic experience on how Nigerian government is run will motivate you to want to serve and build a better Nigeria.

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