The 37-year-old said he could afford to pay for rent, shopping and nights out, earning up to 3,000 rand ($200 dollars) per month from his shoe repair shop.
"I travelled just because I wanted to live life, see the world", he said. "I was happy".
But last week, after local taxi drivers warned that "that there's going to be xenophobia attacks", he rushed to the Nigerian embassy, filled out an evacuation form and headed for Johannesburg airport. He waited there for almost a week before flying out on Wednesday.
Back in Lagos, Nigeria's government has promised to help those returning from South Africa.
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac, Nigerian foreign affairs representative Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the government would pay for citizen's travel expenses to reach their families and enrol them in programmes to find work or start a business.