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Chief Sanjay: I feel at home in Nigeria

By Chijioke Iremeka
19 March 2022   |   1:39 am
Chief Sanjay Jain is an Indian Chartered Accountant who has lived in Nigeria for 30 years. He is connected with many social organisations, including the Indian Cultural Association, a flagship association of Indians in Nigeria. He bagged the Most Outstanding Personality at the 15th edition of the Nigerian Media Nite-out Award and was also conferred…

Chief Sanjay Jain

Chief Sanjay Jain is an Indian Chartered Accountant who has lived in Nigeria for 30 years. He is connected with many social organisations, including the Indian Cultural Association, a flagship association of Indians in Nigeria. He bagged the Most Outstanding Personality at the 15th edition of the Nigerian Media Nite-out Award and was also conferred with a chieftaincy title of Asiwaju in Lagos. In this interview with CHIJIOKE IREMEKA, he speaks on his relationship with Nigeria and a number of issues.

You have been living in Nigeria for the past three decades, how has the experience been?
Yes, you are right, I have been in Nigeria for last three decades. I would say I feel at home while I am in Nigeria. This is all, because it is a beautiful country made of equally warm-hearted people. I have several Nigerian friends and they are as warm as my any other Indian brother or sister to me. And that is the biggest reason that you feel at home and thereby intend to stay for long in this country.

I stay here with my family; my two children are also here. They studied here and then went for higher studies. They also feel at home in Nigeria and they too have lots of Nigerian friends over here.

What spurred or informed your decision to live in Nigeria? Or were you born and bred here?
No, I was not born in Nigeria, but when I got an opportunity to come to Nigeria, I immediately decided to come here for work. When we reached here and stayed for some time, we felt very comfortable. And again, I would say that warmth and the friendly nature of the people of this country, has provided a very conducive atmosphere for a foreigner to be comfortable here.

What is your view about Nigeria in relations with your home country, India?
Nigeria is a great country. Population wise, India is second largest country in the world. But, if you refer the World Bank report, it says that by the year 2040/50, Nigeria will become third largest country in the world. That shows the power of people in this country.

Like India, Nigeria also has huge number of youngsters, which means their contribution towards the country’s progress/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be great and as a result of that, the country’s development and growth would be strong and robust.

Nigeria is mineral rich; apart from oil and gas rich country, its natural resources are great and its agriculture produce is exported throughout the globe. It has a huge workforce, which can contribute towards its industrial growth in a very positive manner.

The democratic set up is very strong in Nigeria, which is another reason that the country will progress unhindered. All in all, there are several parameters, which indicate that Nigeria is a strong country and therefore, shall thrive for the best.

The relationship between India and Nigeria is highly friendly and cordial; I see a huge respect in the eyes of our Nigerian brothers and sisters and vice versa. India is the largest trade partner of Nigeria in the continent. There is a huge export of agriculture produce, minerals and oil among others from Nigeria to India, whereas India exports agriculture equipment, machinery, IT services and others to Nigeria.

All in all, the leaders of two countries are positively aligned with each other and have a mutual commitment towards the benefits of the populace of the respective countries.

If you were given an opportunity to nationalise in Nigeria, would you consider it?
Definitely yes! Actually, at one point of time, I submitted the forms for taking up the citizenship from the relevant department. But, since there is no provision of dual citizenship, I had to leave the idea. The moment two countries have a treaty to allow the dual citizenship, I will be the first person to apply and get Nigerian citizenship.  

As Leader of the organised Association of Resident Indians in Nigeria, would you say Indian communities in Nigeria are well received in the country?
With my responses to your earlier questions, you must have come to know that I am highly appreciative of our stay in Nigeria for several reasons. Most prominent out of those is – friendliness and warmth of people.

Our experience of living in Nigeria is excellent and I must admit that Indians in Nigeria are well received in every aspect of life. They have been able to mingle very well with the Nigerian populace only because the people of the host community have accepted them with open arms.

I can say it authoritatively that the Indians feel great about Nigeria and its people. It is not out of the reference here to mention that the similar kind of feelings is there in the minds of Nigerians who had stayed in India. And that makes our bonding with each other stronger.  

Comparing life in Nigeria and India, as members of the Commonwealth of Nations, what’s your take? What is common and what is different?
There are 53 countries, which were ruled by the British and they are called Commonwealth countries. March 14 is celebrated as Commonwealth Nations Day. I was privy to attend this year’s celebrations at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence in Lagos and met several people from many other commonwealth nations.

It was a great feeling and during an interview, I mentioned that the platform is appreciated because, at least, it gives opportunity to meet people from other countries and learn good things happening in their parts of the world.

I did not find any difference when I compare the stay in India or in Nigeria being a commonwealth nation in spite of the fact that half of the commonwealth nations population is from India.

Recently, you were rewarded with the Most Outstanding Personality of The Year award at the 15th edition of the Nigerian Media Nite-out Award. What would you say earned you this prestigious award and how has it impacted you?
Actually, I am a regular contributor in the print media in Nigeria in several newspapers. Some are interviews whereas some times, they are in the form of articles on various topics; I contribute these in various capacities. Sometimes as President of Indian Cultural Association and many a times, in my individual capacity.

I have written on various topics, such as – Nigerian Economy, COVID-19 in the recent times, agriculture sector in Nigeria, charitable and cultural activities of our association among others.

So, looking to the vibrant presence in the print media and the active interaction with people on many fronts, prompted them to give this – Outstanding Personality of the Year Award – to me. I must say it is a great honour for me to have received this award. More particularly, when I saw the other recipients of the award in the same event, I found myself very small against their towering personalities. I am fortunate enough to get this great award and I feel very happy about this.

You were also conferred with the Nigerian Chieftaincy title, Asiwaju about 15 years ago. What necessitated this title and how do you feel about it?
I feel absolutely great about this. It is a great honour for me to have received Chieftaincy title coupled with Asiwaju title. We had our work place in the area and we interacted with the King on several occasions on various issues.

Looking to the strong leadership at our end and our contributions in that area, which I would desist to mention here, may have prompted him to bestow upon me these titles. It is very pertinent to mention that because of this title, I find myself closer to the people of the host community. They also accept me as their own man. And I take it as a great blessing from them.

On the final note, how would you describe Chief Sanjay Jain?
I describe myself as a humble soul God has put to work on social front for the betterment of the less privileged and provide a good platform to our community people to give them scope to interact with each other and feel at home away from home.

I always find myself as the smallest personality in the society who is always ready to listen from the community people for any kind of assistance or help they may need.

On the personal front, I am a Chartered Accountant by education and currently working as MD of a company in Lagos. Been in Nigeria for the last three decades and have toured extensively throughout Nigeria. Have made hundreds of good Nigerian friends and some of them are very close family friends. I am proud of that relationship with them.

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