Two of the newest citizens of Antigua & Barbuda are Nigerian Oyeleke Toye and his wife Adebola. Originally a chemical and polymer engineer, through building and running businesses in Nigeria, Oyeleke has become a successful entrepreneur in a number of fields over the last 16 years. Having recently relocated with his young family from the most populated country in Africa to the tranquil and beautiful twin-island nation where they bought and reformed a property in Jolly Beach, we caught up with him to find out why they became Antigua & Barbuda passport holders.
Moving from Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people to one with barely 100,000, how have you and your family found adapting to life in a small community?
Being less in a hurry, we appreciate nature and are more aware of the people around us. We have adapted well and are loving our new life.
Why did you choose to take a second citizenship? And why Antigua & Barbuda?
The first thought of having somewhere else to go if necessary, arose in 2015 during the build-up to the general elections in Nigeria, which were quite intense. The idea came up again in 2017 for other reasons. It was sometimes stressful to get visas for the places our family were visiting on vacation and we also wanted to spend some of our vacation time in a community that we felt part of instead of a hotel. I also began to want to expand my business globally. When researching how to legally get a second citizenship, citizenship by investment (CBI) interested me as I didn’t have the time to meet the residency requirement for most citizenship by naturalisation options. And after comparing all the CBI programmes, we concluded that Antigua & Barbuda was the best for us.
When did you first visit the islands and what was your first impression?
We first visited in May 2019, less than a month after we became citizens. At that point, we were not looking to move here. Our first impression when we landed at the airport was “modern airport, this is a real country.” But during our taxi journey to English Harbour through the sparsely populated villages, we wondered if this was really the “paradise” the taxi driver had welcomed us to. By our third day in the country, any doubts we had were totally cleared up and replaced by an urgent desire to make Antigua our main home. The people are nice and friendly, the views are too good to be true, there is peace and calm. We later brought the kids for a vacation and they too absolutely loved it. We were all sold.
Diversifying one’s life is like insurance and you should get it before you need it, because when you need it, it is usually too late to get it.
How important is it for you that Antigua is so well connected to major travel hubs like New York and London?
This was one of the factors in selecting Antigua in the first place. Having active businesses in Nigeria and business partners around the world means that I have to move around frequently. The fact that it is easy to connect to almost anywhere just by one or two flights on major airlines is a big plus.
Are you also looking at business opportunities in Antigua & Barbuda?
Absolutely. One of the reasons I decided to get a second citizenship was to diversify and expand my business globally. I think Antigua & Barbuda presents a good opportunity. I am looking at opportunities for tech-enabled businesses in the tourism, entertainment, real estate and shopping sectors and as the crypto space is coming alive here, I am interested in that too. There may also be a gap in developing capacity for the tech revolution going on all around the world. I would like to be a part of an effort to raise a generation of young Antiguan & Barbudan software engineers who will go on to build not just digital solutions for the twin islands, but big global tech companies with roots in the country.
What advantages do you feel your children have by growing up in Antigua?
The biggest advantage is that they are going to grow up as well-rounded and educated global individuals thanks to their experiences with people from all over the world here in Antigua. Having kids of multiple nationalities attending their school, Island Academy, further exposes them to many cultures which I believe is a great thing.
As a consultant at Citizens International advising West African high-net-worth individuals on how to become global citizens, what is the most important piece of advice that you find yourself giving to clients?
The most important piece of advice is that diversifying one’s life is like insurance and you should get it before you need it, because when you need it, it is usually too late to get it. I also tell them that the starting point should be obtaining a second citizenship, and Antigua & Barbuda citizenship is one of the most desirable ones to have.
Where are your favourite places on the island?
We like to go to the beaches and so far, we have been to about seven and they are all breath-taking. The view from Shirley Heights is to die for and there is just something about driving through Fig Tree Drive.