Why Nigerian women are more desperate to live abroad


Paint an image of a scenario involving a couple who may have lived and worked abroad for over 60 years but now living on pension—imagine when the husband wakes up one day to bring the idea of relocating back to Nigeria, mama kicks against it. She gives reasons why they should not get back home "at least not for now". Should this not be a fact that leads to the conclusion that more women are desperate to live abroad than men?

According to statistics by Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on African immigrants in the United States, 53.6 percent were men and 46.4 percent were women. The stats showed that the gender imbalance among African immigrants was more pronounced among those from certain African countries. Giving an instance, it showed that the tilt towards men was more exaggerated for immigrants born in Senegal (63.7 percent men), Morocco (59.0 percent), Tanzania (58.3 percent), Ghana (57.6), and Guinea (57.6), while the African born from Zimbabwe (51.7 percent women), Somalia (51.3 percent), Sierra Leone (50.6 percent), Nigeria (52.4) and Cape Verde (50.2 percent) were more likely to be women.
Although there may not be much difference in the percentage of Nigerian men and women living abroad as shown above, but there seem to be more Nigerian men based in Nigeria with their wives based abroad than women based in Nigeria with their husbands based abroad.

To tell you the extent of the desperation of some of our Nigerian women, I tell you a real life story. A man got a tourist visa to United States of America some years ago to visit his cousin. While he was in the US for the visit, his wife called on a daily basis to remind him why he mustn't return to Nigeria for any reason. "She'll always tell me that anything my mates are doing to gather dollars I should join them," the man said. Some others encouraged their husbands to marry in order to legalise stay. She may not want to care about what her husband goes through with the hope that soon and very soon she'll join him. He must go and clear the road to remove every impediment so she does not suffer when she arrives.

As a matter of fact, the desperation of a man to travel abroad comes out of the frustration of a man. No job, no means of livelihood, no help from rich family relations etc. He may have tried all means possible to be a man but to no avail. He understands that to be a father and husband someday, he must be the one to put food on the table then he must have to struggle to make ends meet. Even if a man is from a wealthy background, he still has to go through certain natural rigours to stand. But on the other hand, very few women go through such frustration. Many women have always nursed the interest of travelling or living abroad from the cradle. Even at 50 years, whether or not their husbands are well to do, that interest is always rekindled especially when a neighbour's wife visits Nigeria. By then, envy and wishes creep in.

However, because the number of men with better paying jobs in Nigeria is more than that of the women, these men would not want to go to a country where their remunerations are taken back in a tax system. You pay tax for owning a house, you pay tax for buying almost everything. Such men want to only travel for a tour and get back to their jobs. Even if they have the opportunity to live abroad, the fear of starting all over dissuades them from being persuaded to leave their jobs. Instead, some of these men (if not all) will allow their wives and children to go live abroad. Some of these men prefer such status when they tell their friends: "my wife and children live abroad... I visit them every month." But then, no matter the kind of better paying job a woman may have in Nigeria, once there is an opportunity to permanently reside abroad, she’ll grab it and off she goes.

There have been many cases of men not wanting to base abroad while their wives would not want to base in Nigeria. They agree to dwell their marriages on distance and two separate world. It becomes on a visit basis mostly on the side of the men. They may be communicating every time but it does not remove it from the fact that they are living apart and apartness is a big vacuum in the family. Most of the women may no longer care anymore that their husbands are not living physically with them in a foreign land. They have learned to prefer taking the pains to raise their children alone abroad to being in Nigeria. No matter how in touch you as a man may be with your wife and children, there is still a big vacuum that can never be filled when the children grow up. There would be a wide gap surely. But when a man remains adamant, the wife has no choice but to do it alone. She cannot let go the ostentatious life abroad especially with basic amenities and the opportunities the children would be exposed to.

For the Nigerians based abroad, there is more likelihood for the men to retire back to Nigeria having attained an age when they can no longer work. There is this attachment they have with home, kinsmen and traditional beliefs which makes them always want to go home to be identified and reverenced perhaps. There are some men that are now back home, their children because they were born and brought up abroad, do not know what the original home and traditions are. The man may not care, he goes back home. In some cases, their wives follow them.

In some other cases, most women back home may not be given the opportunity to be independent. For the hardworking ones, they may not be able to stay a day without doing something but because of the status of their husbands and the environment they live in, they cannot help but stick to what ‘oga’ says. Some men in Nigeria have gone as far as making their wives quit their jobs and resolve to pay them on monthly basis. While some women agree to that gesture, others would not. The one who agrees with her husband to quit her job would definitely be at the mercy of her husband whenever she is need of money for urgent purposes. When such a woman who does not agree finds herself abroad, she’s more likely to be independent than the men. Unlike the man, she is ready to start all over to join the money making venture. Thus for this independence factor, a Nigerian woman would always prefer abroad.

Another reason is that the lifestyle, environment, and by extension laws concerning families favour the women more than the men. A man who is prone to promiscuity back home may have to really watch it abroad. Women have more rights than the men, thus, most of the women leverage on this advantage. No woman beater can succeed in beating up his wife and go scot-free in places like the UK or the US. No cheater can openly cheat on his wife in such environments, and on this reason, marriages tend to be protected against polygamy.


To round it off, many people are abroad for various purposes, but then, even if more women are in love with living abroad on the reasons pointed above and many others, the most important thing is that the majority of them yearn for it on the basis of self-development and to a large extent, bettering the lots of every family member. 

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About Eustace Dunn

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