What comes to your mind when you think of Nigeria? The biggest country in Africa for population and entertainment or the country known for its crude oil exports? Whatever you think of Nigeria, one cannot deny that the country is a very diverse nation made up of three main ethnic groups – Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba, as well as the other minor ethnic groups. The U.S Embassy in Nigeria reports that Nigeria has a total of 250 ethnic groups present in the country. While this report is true, Nigeria’s diversity is not only highlighted in its cultural diversity but also in its racial diversity as well.
Nigeria is a predominantly black nation, but over the years, even before the country gained its independence, there had been immigrants from foreign lands, who came with their families to start a new life in this country.
One immigrant group that has acclimatized to the Nigerian climate are the Lebanese people. They have been present in the country before its independence. The Middle East Institute reports that the first Lebanese immigrant to arrive in Nigeria was Elias Khoury in Lagos during the year of 1890. As a result, other Lebanese families followed suit and migrated to Nigeria in an attempt to expand their business and build a transnational network.
The benefit of their migration to Nigeria has been largely beneficial in creating economic prosperity, capital formation, and even a socio-cultural development. According to the Middle East Institute, there was a survey conducted on Lebanese people living in major Nigerian cities and in Lebanon. The survey reported that 80% of the Lebanese interviewed concurred with the fact that their migration and the success of their business enterprise in Nigeria was all due to them building a network, in which they leveraged contacts from family members, friends, and even other businessmen.
One popular Lebanese-Nigerian is the billionaire businessman and Philanthropist, Gilbert Chagoury. He and his brother, Richard, own the Chagoury group, which is a Nigerian multinational business corporation that was founded in 1971. The net worth of The Chagoury Group is projected to be about $4.2 billion and they are the owners of the Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Chagoury group is also behind the Eko Atlantic project in Lagos, which is an entirely new coastal city built in Victoria Island and is reversed exclusively for the Nigerian upper class. The Eko Atlantic City project is expected to accommodate over 150,000 people, who would reside there, and another 250,000 people, who would work and commute there, according to the Eko Atlantic website.
This project by The Chagoury group would be very influential for the city of Lagos and it would help to increase the internal generated revenue for the Lagos state government. According to ventures Africa, the overall cost for the development of this new city would be about $6 billion.
Another immigrant group that has also thrived in Nigeria are the Chinese people. They have had a presence in Nigeria since the 1930’s and they have been largely successful because of the businesses they have established in the country.
One particular Chinese company that has been well known for doing business in Nigeria is the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC). This construction company was first established in the People’s Republic of China before it expanded into Nigeria for business during the year of 1979. According to China Daily, since the establishment of the CCECC, the company has employed over 20,000 Nigerians in 70 different projects, specifically in the field of road, bridge and railway projects.
Although Nigeria’s immigrant population is barely noticed by the native black population, it is without a doubt that the foreign settlers, who have made Nigeria their home for the last 4 to 5 decades, have contributed immensely to the growth and projection of the country. It does not matter where you grew up, what tribe you are from or where your parents came from. What matters is that you love this beautiful country, Nigeria, and that is what is important.
We are truly a culturally and racially diverse country.