Searching for Solutions to NEPA Outside Nigeria: Deyo’s Abroad Life

August 14, 2020

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.


On Abroad Life today, Deyo tells us how his curiosity and passion for solving the electricity problem in Nigeria took him from the hydroelectric station in Kwara State to Canada and why he plans to return to Nigeria to implement all he’s learning.

How long have you been in Canada? AKA Abroad Nigeria

January made it five years, so five and a half years.

Wow! That’s a long time

When I first came here and met people that had been here for five years, I had the same reaction but five years later it still feels like I’m new.

What part of it feels new to you?

It’s mostly because I still meet people that have been here for decades, who moved here from Nigeria, and all over the world. 

People say that everywhere you go in Canada, you’ll see Nigerians. How true is that?

It’s hard to survey. I’m in Ottawa and there’s a sizable number of Nigerians here, but if you compare it to Toronto, that number is nothing. You’ll find more Nigerians in Toronto than in any other place in Canada. I’m four and a half hours away from Toronto by road. That’s where some of my Nigerian friends are, so if I want to see them I’ll just drive there. 

Ottawa and Toronto are in the same province which is Ontario, so in this province I’d say there are many Nigerians.

Do you know why Nigerians decide to stay in Toronto?

Toronto is a really big city. It’s like the Lagos of Canada. It’s a very metropolitan city, and it’s very busy so there are a lot of opportunities. It also has industrial activities so people go there to find opportunities.

When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria?

I worked at Jebba Hydroelectric Power Station in Jebba which is a border town between Niger and Kwara state. The hydroelectric facility there uses water from a flowing river to generate electricity. At that point, I was looking to further my career and my experience there exposed me to renewable energy. The Nigerian power sector had too many problems for me to feel comfortable to develop professionally. I felt like going abroad would help me get some exposure and experience. The plan was to come back because I am mind blown at the amount of resources we have in Nigeria. I was exposed to how electricity was generated and all I could think about was how to scale it so that the entire population gets electricity, because we’re a huge population and the demand for electricity is high, but the supply is low.

Canada is very big in renewable energy so I chose to go to Canada.

Wait, so this isn’t a japa story?

Nope. I came to get some exposure, and then fix some problems. 

It’s nice to see a different mindset. After five and a half years, would you say you have that same outlook?

Even though it’s taking a while, the answer is yes. People say things are bad in Nigeria and it’s silly to return and try to make it better but the fact is that things are bad all over the world. 

So from Jebba to Ottawa, how has the self-development journey been?

I came out here as a student to do my masters. The opportunity to get into Canada was more on the studying part. That was the most feasible way for me, because if it was just getting a job, I wouldn’t be able to compete with other people. So coming to study was the approach. I came as a student, and I finished my masters in 2016.

The course —  Systems Science — was very complex; the description is “a course about solving complex problems” and based on my exposure in the Nigerian power sector,  I can say the problem in Nigeria is complex. I have been in the system and I know what’s going on there so I said to myself, “okay, Systems Science is good”. It was also a good segue from my Systems Engineering background in UNILAG, even though I didn’t finish that one with a first class or a 2.1.

So, a systems engineering background, masters from the university in Ottawa, and  background in electricity generation in the power sector. You must have been hot cake.

I thought I’d be hot cake as well but soon I realised that these streets are tough. All around the world, an economy is an economy. Nobody just gets handed anything. I have seen many Nigerians come here and expect to ‘blow’ immediately. In trying to leave Nigeria, they burn bridges and then face reality when they get here. It doesn’t always end well.

So while still looking for a job, with my Canadian university masters, I started working at a warehouse, picking orders.   

A Warehouse. How did that make you feel?

To me, it was unfair. It felt unfair because I felt that someone with a masters degree program in my discipline was not supposed to be doing such jobs. This was so far from my evaluation of what things would be. I had even engaged my fiancée before coming so that when I got my masters, I would bring her over, marry her, and then focus on the rest of my self development. Everything looked nice on paper. In retrospect however, that was one of my best learning experiences. I still work at that same company, but I rose through the ranks to where I am today.

She joined me later though and even though we had some paperwork problems that meant she had to go back to Nigeria for about two years with our son, she’s back and we’re all here together with our permanent residence, and with our son as a full citizen. 

How did it feel raising a child away from home?

One word: Adventurous. At the point of fatherhood, I had already been through and survived enough life’s circumstances for me to realize that having an optimistic attitude would help me through my greatest challenges as I venture through life. So I just took it one day at a time. 

I’m going back to the top now. How easy was it getting a student visa?

There’s nothing easy in this life but I don’t want to discourage anyone. They’ll give you a list of documents you need. Make sure you have all of them and follow due process. If you get rejected, which I did, take it as feedback and work towards not getting rejected again. 

When you first got to Canada, what was the first difference you noticed? 

The weather in Canada is as bad as people say it is. I came in winter with just a fleece jacket and when I got off the plane I thought there was some disaster going on. It was so bad, I had to run back into the plane to ask a guard if he knew what was happening outside. I usually like to keep an open mind, so a lot of the other stuff was just normal to me. 

Like Racism?

Yeah any kind of discrimination, I don’t like using that word (racism). I don’t see it a lot, or if it happens to me I don’t engage in it. I try to navigate it and think maybe the person is having a bad day and acting like this but not that they’re being racist. 

With this pandemic and everyone being at home, how has that affected you as a father, worker and husband?

I’m in charge of Quality Assurance for Information Systems where I work — the enemy of a software developer. To carry out that role there’s no need to be in the office so I’ve been working from home. The challenge with working from home is my son doesn’t want to hear any stories; he doesn’t understand what work is and why it is necessary, so he wants to play when he wants to play and I find that challenging because at first I tried to explain to him but now the challenge is being able to balance my work with his play time; I can’t really argue with whenever he wants to play. I never win, it’s just having to balance my time and work, that’s the challenge for me right now. My wife is very supportive.

Children…

So, where would you rather be, Canada or Nigeria?

It depends on a lot. Right now there’s a very interesting conversation going on globally around energy, energy access, energy efficiency, and energy security. With the way the world is, with the pandemic and all, being in Nigeria might be frustrating because everyone is meant to be staying indoors and how can you stay indoors without stable electricity. So I would love to be in Nigeria, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in Nigeria because I’m not where I want to be in my self development journey. I still keep close contacts with a lot of people in the power sector in Nigeria and we talk about how to move things forward from bottom up but it’s not so straightforward. 

I’m putting in the work though. I hope it works out. 

What do you miss about Nigeria?

Family, friends and Owambe food. 

I hope we see you soon. 


Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

Nigerian police can arrest you
November 15, 2020

“Park! You’re guilty of reckless carriage of a heavy load condensed as two trunks right in between your back and your legs, something like an ukwu!” Okay, the Nigerian police shouldn’t arrest you for that. But these are 5 things that can actually land you in court: 1. Witchcraft E shock you? You didn’t know […]

CNN Lekki
November 18, 2020

Some Nigerians were still rolling in their bed this morning, trying to pick up pieces of their lives after the Lekki Massacre, when CNN Africa sent shockwaves through Nigeria’s part of the Internet.  In a brilliant collation of all the videos that have trended over the #LekkiMassacre, mixed with excellent investigative reportage that made use […]

August 31, 2020

1. Time To Go And Meet Your Favorite Lecturer You, yes you. You have had peace of mind for the last 6 months. But in the next three weeks you will try to submit your assignment after the deadline and someone will shout “Will you get out of my office?!” Why? Because the Governor of […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

January 26, 2021

Times are tough for everyone. But for people whose friends earn more or have a higher purchasing power, social anxiety is always a thing. This is definitely not fun. In this article, 5 Nigerians talk about what it means to be the ‘broke friend’ and everything that comes with it. Dayo, 26 My friend buys […]

January 26, 2021

Growing up, Max* hated dresses and, for that reason alone, he loathed Sundays when his parents demanded that he and his younger sister wore a dress and a head covering as they went to church.  ‘‘I wore a skirt to school from Monday to Friday, but it was the dresses on Sunday that really made […]

Recommended Quizzes

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 27, 2019

Do you have a face that could make angels jealous, or should you really be walking around with a nylon bag over your head so you don’t scare children? Well, this quiz is here to answer that by telling you exactly how good-looking you are. Take and find out: 11 Quizzes For People Who Aren’t […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

More from Citizen

January 13, 2021

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning presented the approved 2021 budget to the public via a virtual conference call. If you missed it, here are a few things we think you will be interested in.  1. How will Nigeria finance the budget deficit? Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said […]

January 1, 2021

Abroad Life has a special place in my heart. I’m always super happy to speak to people about their lives and how living abroad has changed the way they view things. It’s also really great to hear people’s stories and see foreigners through the eyes of Nigerians. Today, I’m going to be sharing the most […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X