Japa Story: I landed in the UK with just ₦148k and became a cleaner the next day

He moved to Manchester in the UK in 2022, but he said his final destination is the US.

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Though the UK finally accepted him, and he moved to Manchester in the UK in 2022, he said his final destination is the US. To achieve this he is working on a multitude of plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

There were certain things that I could not achieve in the context of Nigeria. I studied Computer Science and I wanted to build cool stuff and work in a place where I can see my impact. Nigeria was not that for me. I tried Andela. I tried DecagonHQ. I could not get in.

I first tried the US because I had done an internship there. But when I returned to Nigeria and tried to do my Masters’ there, they denied me a visa four times. I applied at the embassy in Lagos twice and then I decided to try Abuja. They still denied me. People were going to the UK so I was like “Let me try the UK,” but they also denied me twice.

I had to take some time. I took two years, stayed back in Nigeria, and worked for some time. Then my dad asked if I wanted to try the UK again and we did and it clicked.

When I travelled for my internship in the US, universities in Nigeria were on strike, so I stayed longer than I should have because I didn’t see the point of coming back. I think that was why they must have denied me.

The process took about six months. I was supposed to resume in January 2022, but I did not book my ticket until a day before because I was scared that they might not give me the visa. I studied Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. I have finished my programme now.

I paid £2,000 (₦3.8 million) in Nigeria before moving to the UK. My school fee was £16,000. Now you have to pay £4,000 (₦7.6 million) before leaving Nigeria. I paid ₦500,000 for proof of funds. I paid £500 so my visa approval could be a priority.

It was a swim-or-sink situation. I came into this country with just $100 from Nigeria. I converted it to pounds and I had only £78 (₦148,000). My train ticket from Manchester where my uncle who I stayed with lived to my school was £30 (₦57,000). I had to buy a train card for £38 (₦72,000). So I have £7 (₦14,000) with me. So I knew I had to work. The next day I started cleaning.

I messaged hosts on Airbnb and on Bookings. I used to run an Airbnb in Nigeria so I had the idea that cleaning was an issue. I was already doing the research while I was in Nigeria and sending hosts cold messages. I got some people that responded because I told them I was already in the UK. So on my second day in the UK, I started work. I was making like £500 (₦950,000) in a week from each client.

Now I have three students that I just assign to Airbnbs to clean. But I still clean on Saturdays to keep me grounded. I also do security part-time. I have a teaching job as well that is full-time.

Yes, but I’m the type of person that is not bothered. On the security work, these people will say “Don’t touch me.” But I’m searching everyone. You know this person is only saying that because you’re black.

First things first is Canada permanent residence. I’m taking my IELTS in September. I am also looking to get a Global Talent Visa in Data Science. I have done certificate courses in marketing. I am looking for Marketing Analyst roles, hopefully, that works out and the company sponsors my visa.

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I have also applied for a two-year postgraduate visa. That cost me £3,000. The application itself is £822, but I have to pay £1,035 for health insurance for every year I remain in the UK. The primary school I teach has offered me Qualified Teacher Status in the UK. After a programme I’ll do for a year, they can sponsor my visa.

At the moment it looks like I’m on the 10-year track to citizen status. But I hope one of these plans works out and I only get to spend five years. I honestly don’t plan to remain in the UK for as long as 10 years. The goal is the US and I won’t lose sight of it. I just want to work a bit.

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