Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Your Priorities, My Priorities

As some of you may remember, I wrote an article for Jaguda.com back in the day on my views about moving back to Naija. As expected, a lot of people tensioned my life for stating that I consider America to be home and love living in this country. Years later, that view has still not changed.

I was recently talking to a U.S. based someone who was championing the case for moving back to Nigeria. Per the typical argument, he said “there is money to be made in Nigeria” and how levels really dey. According to him, an annual salary of $150,000 for a U.S. resident is “rubbish” after paying all your bills and taxes. Odiegwu. I said “rubbish kwa? That’s a very strong word o”. I had to bite my tongue cos the next thing coming out of my mouth was going to be "Have you ever encountered $150k in your life sef?" but I said let me chill for guys. Nigerians sha. Just be yarning real opaks to prove some non-existent points. As in, 150,000 annual salary never reach me finish and I’m still able to pay my bills, save money, and live a pretty comfortable life so for one to say that $150k is rubbish so we need to move back to Nigeria where there is real money to be made is some real bullshit. I agree that there is money to be made in Nigeria, but that is an entirely separate argument that should not involve bashing people's annual salaries in the USD. Voltron force has spoken.

That shenanigans aside...besides this recent conversation, I have had a lot of discussions with people who champion the move back campaign with the magic words – “There is money to be made in Nigeria”.  I used to know this guy who went to college here and then moved back to Naija some years ago. So post-move, he visited Yanks and I have to give it to him, he was looking like a fresh Lagos Island bigz boiz and exuding the corresponding swag. During our meet-up, one of the first things that he said to me was “You guys are struggling with 9-5 jobs in this country? Move back home, there is money to be made”. I said “I’m cool. If all of us move back home, we will finish the money for una na”. Abi no be so? They will all be shouting move back, move back, instead of them to be happy that we are allowing them gather all the money while we "suffer" in obodo oyibo. Might I add that he was able to quickly make his own money because his father is a rich man in Lagos with connects? Uhn uhn…

However...I am not blind to the fact that people seem to be balling in Nigeria (or at least have packaged themselves well enough to give that impression). You look at these event red carpet pictures, and everybody and their mama is carrying $1100 Celine handbags like Celine handbags is agbalumo. High end brands like Louboutin, Prada, Chanel, just full ground anyhow like it’s nothing. Now even Bentley has turned into pure water, and all the celebrities are buying Bentleys. To add to all of this, every other day on Linda Ikeji’s blog, there are posts about people dropping millions of naira for Range Rovers and all kinds of shiny SUVs. Trust that I do not doubt that there is money in Nigeria and some people’s pepper has seriously rested. Even on the “small scale” level self, someone that my friend knew came to America on a 3 week vacation and she brought $6,000 shopping money along with her. When my friend gisted me, I was like hohohoho! Where did it even begin to reach me that I would carry $6,000 for a shopping expedition to a foreign country? When I still have outstanding student loans, a car note and rent to pay?? That one surely fly pass me o, I ain't even going to front.

But even with the car note, student loans, taxes and all the obligations that I face as resident of the US of A, my complaints are minimal and I still love living in America. I acknowledge that I will probably never get to the Lagos or Abuja big babe level and I’m okay with it. I do like my relatively simple life and am not particularly driven to move back home and strike it big. Some may see this mentality as settling for less where I can be living a bigger and more ballerific lifestyle back home and they certainly are entitled to their opinion. See as I just listed student loans, rent, and a car note?… some people aren't here for that. Like the person that bashed the $150,000 annual salary pointed out, people making the big bucks back home are paying serious cash down for cars and eliminating debt with the scribble of a pen over a check (or cheque in Naija/Britico speak). When Linda Ikeji bought her 8 million naira SUV, I quickly pulled out calculator to see the USD equivalent and I had to mentally hail the babe. As for me, the ability to drop such thousands of dollars in cash down most definitely pass my power. If my Naija big babe counterparts are walking into a store and dropping $1200 cash on a designer bag, I on the other hand, would have to do a real opportunity cost assessment before I ever shelled out $1200 on a bag. So it’s all a matter of priorities and what you want out of life and personally speaking, my wants aren't on a kentro level.

That said, to people who do wanna move home and pursue the “let’s get this money dream”, I’m not even mad at that. Whatever works for you. I think that my biggest irritation with such people, or people that have already moved back is that they think you are crazy for not wanting to do the same. It’s all a matter of respecting opinions and recognizing that we have different priorities. Let it not be a long thing.

And that is all she said

PS:- I'm aware that not everyone that moves back home achieves the "Nigerian dream". I'm also aware that not everybody toting a Celine bag or driving a range is a legit baller...maybe they have Ariztos daddys, are involved in some shady business or something. For fair comparison purposes (because I work hard for my money), the money makers that I'm talking about in this post are the legit ones and not any 419 or arizto assisted versions.