Travelling abroad for greener pastures not unpatriotic — Adeola Igbalajobi – Punch Newspapers

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Adeola Igbalajobi is the Chief Executive Officer of Dehola Consulting Limited. She tells TOFARATI IGE about her career, immigration and other issues
What inspired you to set up an education/immigration consulting company?
There are lots of factors that accounts for this. I had a seven-year wait between the time I graduated from secondary school and when I got into a higher institution. Because of my experience, I knew and saw that a lot of young folks needed help and guidance in this area. I am passionate about assisting people in this area by assisting them in attaining their educational dream within a reasonable time frame.
Another factor I would like to point out is that the situation I went through woke up and unleashed my inner studying-self. This has made me a lifelong learner.

The immigration consulting arm of the business was set up as a result of the desire I had for assisting others with immigration. When I newly moved to Canada, I got calls from many intending immigrants who needed help to navigate complex immigration issues. This took all my free time as I had to do lots of research, so I would not mislead anyone. It led me into discovering this field that was unknown to me but that could change people’s lives.
What services does your company offer?
We offer varieties of services which include education consulting, immigration consulting, settlement services, visa application services, facilitating educational credentialing assessments and mentorship services.

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Many persons relocate from Nigeria in search of greener pastures. Do you think one has to travel abroad before getting to ‘greener pastures’?
No, I do not think one has to travel abroad before getting to ‘greener pastures. I view travelling abroad in this light— my parents are originally from Ilesha in Osun State. From family tales, I’ve been made to understand that my grandparents have roots in present day Ondo and Ekiti States as well. Meanwhile, I was born in Lagos and grew up in Warri, Delta State. I did not grow up where I am originally from because my parents travelled to Warri for work which might be construed or termed as ‘greener pastures’ in the context of this explanation. To this end, I believe one can find greener pastures either from where one was born, where one grew up, or wherever else one might find oneself in the mix. This should not be seen as an unpatriotic act. Rather, it should be viewed through the lens that the world is a global village.
What are the major challenges you face in the course of running your business?
One major challenge is clients not providing necessary documentation on time. Some laws affecting newcomers in the jurisdictions where we practise are very dynamic, and when one does not receive necessary documentation on time from clients, this tends to impede the application process as one might have to redo completed application forms all over again to account for the changes introduced during those delays.
Clients bearing different names on various documents is another problem.
Another challenge is getting information from some Nigerian parastatals. This is like extracting teeth in some instances. A problem area I would implore the Federal Ministry of Education together with other stakeholders, such as the Nigerian University Commission and the National Board for Technical Education to look at is the issuance of transcripts. This is an area I dread because it has cut short the dreams of many clients. That is very unfortunate and should not be so.
Some of the transcript request services that are supposed to help in this regard charge so high and still expect the students to contact their alma-mater. I think we can do much better than what is on ground currently.

Also, businesses should be able to file their annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission without having to use the services of anyone on the list of designated practitioners. The CAC’s website should have a guide for this to be done online, then whosoever chooses can use the services of anyone on the designated profession list, without been compelled to do so as it’s the current norm. I am not talking of the actual tax return which is submitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service but another matter altogether, which is annual returns.
We should try to remove a lot of unwarranted complexities from the Nigerian business environment to encourage a lot of start-ups and even existing businesses so they can focus on what they set out to do.
There have been reported cases of people being defrauded by immigration consulting companies. How can a genuine company be identified?
This is an excellent question because a lot of people fall for scams most of the time. In Canada, the field of immigration consulting is regulated by the the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants and clients can check if a consultant is legally recognised and registered.
Meanwhile, some clients come to us for consultation and after the case analysis, they feel they should qualify under a particular pathway when the facts point to the contrary. Some of them would then look for other consultants that would tell them what they want to hear with fake promises. Most times, these end up backfiring on them.
Another way to safeguard oneself is to let one’s representative know that one would like to use the ‘milestone payment option’. Using this, the client is expected to pay for services which are just about to be rendered so they don’t have to pay everything upfront.

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  • Also, I believe that if something is too good to be true, then it is not true. The fake promises are just a way to lure people out of their hard-earned cash, and there is no way they (fraudulent immigration consultants) can be brought to accountability because they are not registered with the appropriate regulatory body.

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    Have you ever felt like giving up?
    There has been a time or two. However, I have my dreams written in strategic places in my home. That keeps me grounded and focused.
    What inspires you to continue in this line of business?
    I want to mentor school-aged pupils in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; as well as social science, and the arts. I want to be instrumental in forming activities and functions that would promote STEM and other fields of endeavour, which in turn will make the world a better place.
    What is your advice for people who have no sustainable source of income but still want to travel abroad?
    My advice would be for them to work for some years to save some funds, and ensure they curtail their spending as much as possible.
    For students that are not from affluent homes, my advice would be for them to study like their lives depend on it while they are in higher institution to ensure they get good grades.

    What are your educational qualifications?
    I have a Bachelor of Science degree with (First Class honours) in Mechanical Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. I also have a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
    In what ways can the government support your industry?
    There are lots of fraudsters working in Nigeria and pretending to be legitimate. The Nigerian government, through the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences or any other relevant federal agency can crack down on fraud in the industry.
    Those federal agencies have the capabilities to check and ascertain the various requirements needed to practice in the industry. They can close down outfits that do not meet the criteria spelt out by the law and prevent them from defrauding other unsuspecting applicants.
    In what ways did the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant stringent measures put in place for travelling to other countries affect your business?
    The COVID-19 pandemic direly affected the sectors where we practise. The ban on travel at the peak of the pandemic literally brought the immigration sector worldwide to a standstill. Airlines were mandated not to fly, and lockdown measures were implemented in most parts of the world. Even after some of the bans were lifted, there were still measures in place to curtail ‘normal’ movement.

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    For the education part of the business, most schools started the remote learning option based on the restriction on travelling and movement. Most clients that wanted to study abroad preferred the in-class study model, and the learning from home model adversely affected their desire to invest in study programmes abroad that would not grant them their necessary satisfaction. Part of wanting to study abroad is the desire to mix with students from diverse cultures, which the measures in place during the height of the pandemic do not encourage.
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