Nigerians are divided over a statement made by the founder of NairaBet, Akin Alabi, which queried Nigerians in diaspora for leaving the ‘countries that work’ only to come to Nigeria to invest, then complain when their businesses fail.
Alabi, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, said he struggled to understand the motivation that would spur the Nigerians in Diaspora to establish a company in Nigeria. He questioned why they didn’t stay back to set up their businesses in a foreign country instead of investing in Nigeria where the system is not as dependable as the foreign countries.
The ease of doing business in Nigeria has been heavily criticised. Apart from government regulations and policies that are viewed as harsh, the country lacks infrastructure and stable power supply. These negative factors affect the operating costs of companies and individuals who spend about $12 billion yearly to fuel generators. Also, in Nigeria, 80% of small and medium businesses fail in their first five years.
So, knowing how hostile the business environment is in Nigeria, someone like Akin Alabi cannot but ponder on the factor that drives Nigerians in Diaspora to make such business decision.
I’m struggling to understand. You live in a country that works. You made money and came to Nigeria to do business. It failed. You complain and go back to the country that works. Why don’t you just do business in that country that works? Why Nigeria? Don’t tell me patriotism.
— Oloye Akin Alabi (@akinalabi) December 1, 2019
Akin Alabi’s statement was trailed by various reactions from Nigerians. While his statement drew backlash from some Nigerians, others explained the motivating factors, narrowing it down to patriotism and better value.
Backlash from some Nigerians
Alabi was condemned by some Nigerians for making such a statement. They said as a lawmaker, he was supposed to be apologetic that Nigeria does not have a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, not to be questioning the motive behind the decision of Nigerians abroad to invest in the country.
This tweet of yours just showed how inept and myopic this present government and it's representative's reason(you inclusive).
The old politician's lack foresight in creating an enabling environment for biz, but D younger generation's has surpassed their cluelessness. So shameful.
— Jamoojuk? (@udoka_james) December 3, 2019
@akinalabi I understand you trying to advice people right on a business part.But as an elected office holder such statement about your country not working is not suppose to be a statement from you. no one loses political seats based in statement over there.
— Oba Shermy (@shermy02894617) December 2, 2019
Coming from a legislator is even more worrisome. If everyone abandons the country to do business in countries with working system, how will this failed state fare? The reason why you guys are there is to fix the system and attract investment.
— Uburu Son (@Hiykes77) December 2, 2019
Someone risk everything he made in another country under adverse conditions and decided to come bk home to help under hellish business conditions that will take Satan to survive but you have the nerves to blame him?U shld be sorry for unconducive business conditions in Nigeria.
— TonyCommonManVoice (@TonyIshola) December 3, 2019
When some people succeed in Nigeria, they refuse to see why others fail. Why are only a few succeeding? Shouldn't it bother the govt of the day?
Maybe that's why we have hospitals n schs, yet our leaders treat themselves n their children sch in UK.
— Ima (@Sallyodibo) December 3, 2019
Baba lemme break it down for you (probably know this) – they believe Nigerians are ripe for exploitation. They see how gov rides the citizens decade in – decade out. So they just wanna check if there’s room on the horseback for them too. When it fails, they suddenly “see clearly”
— OLISA (@vickdinho) December 2, 2019
Some Nigerians explained that patriotism and opportunity drove them to invest in their country rather than invest in the ‘countries that work’.
Opportunity i think, china wasn't a good nation but for the patriotism of it's citizen who had gained knowledge outside their shores who came home and replicated what they had seen and learnt, today it hosts the 2nd largest billionaires in the world all from patriotism
— Ola emmanuel (@juatob) December 2, 2019
The patriotism comes by default you can’t take it out. Brands abroad are already established and enjoy 50yrs+ loyalty. You really need a Big Bang to break in. The real question should be why do businesses fail? Because it’s not to the detriment of that entrepreneur
— Son of Lion (@Ozi_udu) December 3, 2019
For Joseph, it is cheaper workforce and poor regulation in Nigeria that made Nigerians in the diaspora invest in the country.
Reason why one will want to do business in nigeria over the countries that works well are
1. Cheaper workforce due to the high rate of unemployment in nigeria
2. Regulatory bodies in terms of production of food/pharmaceutical products ain't as tough as the ones in other countri
— Joseph (@Jokyolams) December 2, 2019
Meanwhile, Adebanji Ademola said the longing for home is the motivating factor.
No matter how successful you are outside the shores of this country. Everybody yearns for home at some point and so the attempt at setting up a business may be in a bid to have something to keep him at home.
— AdeBanji Ademola (@cool_demmy) December 2, 2019
This here baffles me sir. Its a different thing if it was compulsory to leave that country. Why would anyone leave a system that works and provides basic needs to return to a system where you do almost everything yourself and start a business in a harsh businesses environment!
— Justin Ugo Amuzie (@jayamuzie) December 1, 2019