Chief Josephat Nwosu stands at the nexus of entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development between his native country, Nigeria and host country – the United States of America. Nwosu is a symbol of the successful Nigerian diaspora who is shaping the future of intercultural and international response to the influence of the diaspora in “turning brain drain into brain networking.”
After more than 30 years living in the United States, Chief Nwosu – a custodian of his native Igbo culture decided to invest in Nigeria. He began the construction of a four-star hotel in Owerri, Imo State prior to the shutdown induced by covid-19 pandemic. Nwosu met a series of road blocks prominent among which were the covid-19 and the hostility of the state government towards private investors. “But in Nigeria the state government is not encouraging our business… the government is not encouraging tourism…it isn’t helping the economy,” the Managing Director of Mayor Courtyard and Suites stated.
With a staggering cost of $750,000.00, the 60 bedroom hotel has provided employment to tens of Nigerians where unemployment rate is reported to be 40 percent.
“I spent 750000 dollars including the cost of 3 years coming to Nigeria leaving my family and business in America to do it myself. If I hadn’t done it by myself this would not have been completed. I succeeded in this business because I was doing it myself. If I gave money to other people to-do this for me, it wouldn’t have been as successful as it is today. During the lockdown I was here for nine months. From the beginning, people have lied and deceived me and embezzled a lot of money from me.They think because I came from another country, I don’t know how to negotiate and how the money works but they were wrong.”
Asked if the government could do something to make the environment more enabling like giving access to loans to build a structure like you have done, Nwosu emphatically said that :Government doesn’t give loans, they don’t do that. Everyone is a politician in this country and the only thing they do is embezzle money meant for the citizens. The Federal government will give money to the governor and they will use it to share among themselves.”
Instead of encouragement from the state government,potential investors especially diaspora Nigerians have had to face stiff obstacles. Nwosu had a litany of challenges. In his words: “Some government agents will intimidate you and ask you if you have a permit and even though you do they will say that it is illegal. They are always coming to take money from me so they have done it several times. I wouldn’t come from America without getting my permit and anything I need. I paid 8 million naira for a change of purpose plan. The change means to convert the location designated as residential to commercial before the commencement of the hotel construction. After the change, they still called me and told me that they had to investigate.”
According to Nwosu, the banks are not giving loans; no encouragement at all; even to transfer money from dollars to naira even when I asked for help they declined.
The businessman has a warning to Nigeria that seems only to focus on oil. “Every country has oil now. Nigeria has been borrowing and borrowing and doesn’t know things to create employment This is why we have a bunch of young people coming out of University with no jobs. It’s a problem.”