17.03.2023 Featured NIUK, a Lively Community of Nigerians in the UK, Clocks One

Published 17th Mar, 2023

By Abimbola Abatta

Judith, a Nigerian based in the United Kingdom, needed to renew her passport in London in August 2022, but she had nowhere to stay.

She later found a fellow Nigerian, Olamide Adigun, who housed her for the few days she spent in London for the passport renewal. Judith and her benefactor had never met before then.

Judith told FIJ that this would have been impossible without the support of Nigerians in the United Kingdom (NIUK), a Nigerian community that seeks to make the UK a home away from home.

“She didn’t know me from Adam, yet she reached out to me and housed me for those few days I stayed with her. She took so much care of me, and I gained a sister in her,” said Judith.

“That good deed really meant a lot to me and I can never take her for granted. I wonder what it would have been like if we didn’t have the community.”

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At its inception on March 16, 2022, the community aimed to make the UK a second home for Nigerian immigrants through the provision of an invaluable network, where problems shared could be half or fully solved.

And 12 months later, the community has welcomed over 9,000 Nigerians into the UK just as it boasts of over 18,000 followers on its Twitter page.

After seeing communities of different countries in the UK, Benjamin, known popularly as Oluomo of Derby, the president of the NIUK, deemed it wise to set up a similar community for Nigerians.

“One day in 2021, I looked at the Irish community in the UK and other communities, and I saw that they were making progress,” he told FIJ.

“I felt like a lot of Nigerians in the UK didn’t have that kind of community despite the fact that many of us, like over 300,000, were fully in the UK. I felt it was about time we put our hands together. United we stand, divided we fall.

“I felt we needed to do something special so that we could, of course, make progress. So I took it up and on March 15, I created a community for Nigerians in the UK.”

The Twitter page

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He told FIJ that many Nigerians had been in the UK for years without a sense of belonging and connectedness.

Encouraged by the possibility of a progressive community that makes life easier for Nigerians in the UK, Benjamin set up the NIUK.

“The community itself started in 2022, and we’ve made a lot of progress. We have over 9,000 members in the community to date,” he said.

The community, according to Benjamin, has come through for many Nigerians in the area of mentorship, employment opportunities, accommodation, relationships, friendship and so on.

“Lawyers, engineers, and other professionals have a group. In the community, we have the worship team that also serves as a prayer group. We have the NIUK women as well. Basically, we have different groups in the community,” he told FIJ.

“It’s a place where people are available to uplift you and give you a sense of belonging. When people come here and join us, they don’t feel alone. Coming here is like being in an extension of Nigeria because your people are here. Regardless of your problem, someone will surely help you out.

“Our official Twitter page has over 18,000 followers and it is for anybody in the world to join. Then we have another community mainly for Nigerians in the UK, where you have to send a request to join, and one of the moderators will approve the request. We talk about it a lot on Twitter pages, through word of mouth, at the universities in the UK, and at work.

“The executive members, the president, vice president, legal secretary, communication officer, finance secretary, and public relations officer, are involved in decision making.”

Oluomo of Derby

“Though I am the president, it doesn’t mean I have the final say in the community. The leaders always vote before making decisions. We have a structure in the community, as well as rules and regulations that guide us. If you break the rule, we’ll give you a warning. But if you break it again 2-3 times, you’ll be removed from the community,” said Benjamin.

“The excos are primarily concerned with how to move the community forward. We encourage ideas from every member of the community. For instance, someone came up with the idea of NIUK worship and another suggested the NIUK professionals.”

For Benjamin, many Nigerians were frustrated when they first moved to the UK because it’s a different world, where one can be lonely.

He said people could become depressed and uncertain of the right steps to take if they didn’t have the right circle of people around them.

The NIUK community, however, has been able to fill the gap.


True to the saying that no group of people is exempted from challenges, the NIUK is not without some difficulties.

From funding to the election period brouhaha, the community has had its fair share of challenges.

Benjamin disclosed that two members were about to be kicked out of their universities because they couldn’t afford to pay their fees. Because the community was not funded, he said, the only option was for members to lend the students some money.

“They were sad and felt we should have helped them, and I let them know the community is not funded. Even if it was, the community is meant to only lend money to whoever needs it. The decision also boils down to the outcome of the votes by exco members,” he said.

Benjamin noted that since the community doesn’t get funded, it may not resolve everybody’s problems.

“The community cannot help with funding, but we can give information, connect members with the right people to make the process easier.”

He further noted that there’s no way a community of over 9,800 people will not have political differences.

NIUK @ 1

“This election period has been toxic in the community. We have the obidients, the batified, and the atikulate. The community’s competition officer even made a tweet, asking if politics should be banned in the community. But many people were against it. They said despite our differences, we’re still Nigerians,” said Benjamin.

“One thing we all agreed on is that in spite of our political affiliations, we all want the best for the country, a Nigeria that works for all of us. So, there’s been issues in the community regarding the election, but at the end of the day, nobody hates anybody. We believe that Nigeria will become a better country.”

FIJ learned that apart from issues bordering on election and finances, some members of the community also have challenges regarding romantic relationships.

“Some sisters reached out to me when they felt like a member of the community didn’t treat them right,” he said.

“Although I always tell the community members to treat one another fairly and be truthful to one another, there was little I could have done even as the president of the community. All I did was to advise them to always do their homework before agreeing to date anyone. They should really get to know the person.”

In response to where he saw the NIUK in five years, Benjamin said, “as far as we are united as a community, we can get better. We are going to have a website and many other things”.


Also speaking with FIJ, Lesi Ayomide Sam-Leeloo, a member of the NIUK, said the community had been a blessing for every Nigerian in the UK.

Sam-Leeloo got into the UK two years before the platform was created, but the community has helped him to connect with fellow Nigerians with whom he shares similar culture, values and challenges.

“When we first came to the UK, there was a general belief and concern amongst Nigerians here that the UK is boring. There were no activities to do, and it was quite difficult to relate with people,” he said.

“I can say there has been a significant difference for me. Before the platform, I used to just be by myself. I did not really have a lot of people around me who shared the same culture or similarities with me, which could be quite depressing sometimes, but the community has made this easier for me,” added Sam-Leeloo.

For Sam-Leeloo, the community has not only bolstered his circle of friends in almost every city in the UK but it has also eradicated the fear of not being able to fit in a new location.

“I can literally walk into the UK because I know that I have someone I can rely on over there,” he said.


READ ALSO: Tobi Amusan, Charles Osuji… 7 People Who Made Nigeria Proud Abroad in 2022


He noted that the community had connected over 10,000 Nigerians across the length and breadth of the UK to create a significant community.

From fostering a great relationship amongst Nigerians in the UK to giving them a sense of belonging, Sam-Leeloo said, the community had been able to mirror the Nigerian life in the UK.

“Just think of every event in an actual Nigerian setting. We have been able to replicate the same,” he said.

“This has helped people to live comfortably in the UK and not feel alone or lonely. When we host events and hangouts, it always feels as if we’ve known one another and been family for a long time.

“The NIUK has motivated people to be there for one another. It has enhanced friendships, and it basically caters to all the needs of Nigerians; whether religious, academic, emotional, or in any other.”

Also serving as a learning platform, the leadership has facilitated several virtual meetings to educate members on topics bordering on how to get a better credit score, how to start a mortgage, and how to get good jobs, among others.

“At the NIUK, you will always see people that will help you. The community has also been like a family. People have got high-paying jobs and solved social issues ranging from accommodation, school fees to others.”

Published 17th Mar, 2023

By Abimbola Abatta


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