Written by Yusuf Danesi – courtesy of http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
It is disheartening that Nigeria continues to be an enigma, in spite of the unrivalled exposure of its leaders. Why is the EFCC suddenly on the trail of Nasir El-Rufai?
You bet nothing significant will result from the much orchestrated sleaze factor probe of the N2.3 billion vehicle contract, awarded by the management of the National Assembly. So that is how much it costs to provide Peugeot products to 84 standing committees of the National Assembly! Why that huge amount of committees?
I do understand why you want to migrate- especially your love for your family. I am happy that you have all obtained your visas as you look forward to transfering your media skills here (UK). Work was not going the way it should in spite of your towering industry stature; so you have thrown in your retirement letter to everyone’s shock; you have sold all you ever owned to be able to relocate with your family; in a nutshell, bridges have been burnt as you look forward to making UK your “New Home.”
However, you need to prepare for a completely strange transition, which may either make or break you. You will practically go to ‘school’ on CV writing and before you eventually get it right it might take roughly three months- this is no exaggeration, as there are many critics out there. You will start pushing out your new CV, while it takes about 3,000 to get you one interview! You may have to push out about 30,000 copies to get 10 interviews and you probably need to attend 30 interviews to finally land a job! The truth is you may have to send out 900,000 applications before you get a job here!
If you are wondering why this is so then consider the following statistics and facts: Royal Mail risks 50,000 jobs; Woolworths, which has 813 stores, collapsed in November and as a result, 25,000 jobs are likely to go; pound hits near low against Euro; manufacturing falls at record pace; service sector in record contraction; Britain slips down price rankings; Bank of England blamed for recession; unemployment has hit 1.8 million- the highest since 1998; UK debt rises to 1.5 trillion pounds, etc.
Do not be shocked that your M.Sc degree means nothing to the employers here; worse still, your almost 20 years experience does not count! Most employers do not even know what HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) means!
It is great that you are coming with your family of five, but you need not less than £13,000 (i.e. N3.25m) to survive the first six months of possible unemployment- and this is outside of London! You probably need close to double that amount if you all need to be in London. You may not be able to earn the mandatory £35,000 per annum required by the Home Office(if your visa is to be renewed in two years’ time) if you do not work in London. And if your post code reads anywhere but London, your appications will all fire blank; meanwhile no employer will tell you the reason. If you have a relation or friend who lives in London and is willing to accommodate you temporarily, why not come alone for now? However, the danger in that is multi-faceted, e.g. who says you will find work in six months- even menial work? There is a recession here, which affects virtually every sector. You will be shocked to learn that the employment agency would rather call, and even in some cases, register somebody from the EU who cannot express him/herself clearly in English than give you, a master’s degree holder a break. And the job in question? Factory operative! The wage is about £5.75 an hour before tax/NI deduction, etc. Do not forget that you need to be in the £24/25 per hour bracket to hit the HSMP £35k target.
Relationships with your hosts will be strained in most cases; you will be running bills back home too since your wife is not an employee, etc.
If you have the money, come with your family, stay with your host for not more than 72 hours, maximum, a week, but be prepared to contribute your quota to the upkeep of the home. You will be lucky if your hosts are not greedy because they have not set eyes ever on the kind of money you are coming with at a go, in their 20- something years in the UK!
That you have the money is no guarantee that you will immediately get a house of your own because you do not have a credit history. If you do not have a guarantor (and many potential ones are unwilling) then just pay six months rent upfront, though the checks that will still be undertaken may take between two and three weeks. Make sure your landlord in Nigeria can easily be reached by the referencing company, e.g. email, fax, land phone, mobile, etc. If you do not get a permanent job before the six months and your landlord wants to sell the property then you start the process all over, though your Nigerian landlord may not be contacted again. If your employment is temporary/contract, which is less than 6-12 months, you will need a guarantor. Do not be in a hurry to own a car because keeping it on the road is not a joke; more so your driving licence/experience, like your academic certificates/experience, is not recognised! You will have to start from scratch-learner, in spite of your 18 years accident-free driving experience on roads that are death traps in Nigeria! Do not even think of using your international driving licence because of the prohibitive insurance premium you will be paying on it. What baffles me, however, is the accident statistics here despite the very strict driving/traffic regulations: every morning my radio reports accidents on the A2, M25, etc and a lot of them fatal!
The bills never cease to come from utility companies whether you have a job or not! Your local council tax is even reviewed upwards and if you call to let them know you are not working, they ask if your wife is and if she is, your subsequent bills will come in her name! If you are impatient, the thousands of rejection letters you are going to receive on your applications will almost make you stop believing in yourself- you will think you are absolutely useless! An attempted foray into other unrelated survivalist professions like care work, etc may even return further rejection letters- but you are highly skilled! You will crave anything eventually because the bills are ticking away- lunch time play leader, mail sorter, support worker, etc. These are not highly skilled jobs yet they are not telling you why “your appliaction has been unsuccessful.” Sometimes you are tempted to reply and abuse the conveyor of the bad news, whose grammar is even suspect. Also you will marvel at the arrogance of prospective employers who you played a gamble on, in view of a perceived better opportunity. It was you who declined their offer on the phone/face-to-face, yet you get their letter/email 24 hours after to say your application was “unsuccessful”!
You pick up most newspapers here and it is obvious you could do a better editing job if given the chance, but you have sent more than 5,000 unsuccessful applications to be considered even for the post of assistant reporter!
You will almost feel like quitting: your foreign degree is competing with theirs in this period of recession; thousands of their citizens are out of work on a daily basis and they would rather give them priority. Do not be frightened, do not despair. I understand that your christian faith is intact: that is a vital credential you will be needing here at this time. Be prepared because at a stage it will look like God does not even operate here!
The system here is like an automobile whose engine suddenly packed up- you cannot move the machine; the accelerator is useless; you cannot even talk about the brake system, the battery’s run flat and out, every thing is immobilised, etc. The employment market here is just like that- highly impregnable! The standards appear to be out of this world- very high- but if you are lucky to get in at a level that is a bit compromising, you will discover that you are a genius! Those who are intelligent from Nigeria are simply intelligent and there is nothing any one can do about it. Everywhere you go- from viewing houses to discussing in a group, they will praise you for your flawless English. You will even deliberately use English words that they very much struggle with…yet they are just reluctant to give you that office job. Why must you do a low skilled job when your visa reads “Highly?” To worsen it, majority of your associates here will say, “just take
anything.” Some will even suggest you go sweep the streets of London, while others will say it pays £50 an hour to clean the dead in the morgues!
Do you know what is annoying about the whole issue? Africa is synonymous with Poverty…your degree, experience, etc are therefore viewed with disdain! People are shocked when you analyse issues, yet you have not been around for more than seven months! How can anything good come out of Africa? I do not know about engineering, IT, etc. If you are not already practising any of these (with a British professional membership) then it will be a matter of luck to break the jinx here- it is very tough for the arts here.
You were given 24 months and by 10 months into your visa some prospective employers are already weary of even interviewing you, citing “company policy” as the reason (your visa is running out of steam).
I can confirm to you that many Nigerians here are returning home in great numbers- are you surprised?
Hey, before you change your mind, refuse to see the negative as people are still getting great jobs here- yes, HSMP, arts. One recently almost posed with Gordon Brown at a 10 Downing Street, event! Her degree? American, and worked for an international NGO in Lagos. She is also writing a professional examination here. Even at that, it took her close to six months before that break! I hear you are thinking of writing exams in project management, ICT, etc- laudable! But you have to possess the right mindstate if you do not want to fail such exams.
Do you still want to come to UK? Whatever decision you take will be most respected by me and my family. Unfortunately, I am still trying to find my feet too and may not be able to be of assistance other than the frank, naked and anlytical advice I have provided here. Above all, be propelled always by the thought of seeing your sacrifice for your family to the end; believe in God, who knows all things; surround yourself with positive and encouraging people; do not regret your decision- keep fighting. Weigh the options, take the ultimate decision and never look back afterwards.
Danesi lives in the UK