Visiting Nigeria for The First Time

Recently there has been a large wave of young Nigerians aboard visiting and moving back to the Motherland. Whether you are going for business or pleasure, or whether you’re a child of the soil or  friend of the country, we present a short guide for visiting Nigeria for the first time (or if you have not been back in a while).

Mentality

First and foremost you must go with an open mind.  You cannot go with the mentality that everyone is out to scam you, that there will never be electricity and that all you’re going to see is poverty, or even the opposite – that everyone is rich and living an extravagant lifestyle. You will see things that will probably disappoint or scare you but you will also see things that are impressive and make you proud.

Passport and visa requirements

Nigerian citizens –If you have dual citizenship, both your Nigerian and foreign passports are required; your Nigerian passport to be used when you are going to Nigeria and foreign passport when you are going back to your country of stay.

Non-Nigerians – Unless you are a citizen of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), a valid visa is required for entry into the country which can be obtained from Nigerian embassies and high commissions around the world. The visa process can be complicated and lengthy thus it is advised to get it well ahead of your planned trip. Visit the Nigerian embassy website of your country for further information.

Money

Although the use of credit and debit cards are increasingly being used in larger cities, Nigeria is a cash-based economy thus it is essential to take a sufficient amount to cover expenses and all other unexpected costs (there will be a lot of tipping everywhere!) Foreign currencies can only be exchanged into the Naira when you arrive in Nigeria, which can be done in any reputable bank, airport, hotel or credited foreign exchange bureau.

 

Health

Polio and yellow fever vaccinations are recommended before travelling to Nigeria, thus ensure you are vaccinated before your trip. Discuss recommended vaccinations and preventive measures with your health-care provider before travelling.

Malaria in Nigeria accounts for one third of cases in Africa, with 97% of the country at risk of developing the disease, thus it remains a major public health issue. It is therefore essential to take steps to prevent yourself from getting the disease.

Although the country is working on ensuring reputable drugs are being made and sold, there are high incidences of fake medication and over-the-counter drugs. Ensure to take any necessary medication with you and if it is required, ensure to purchase drugs from reputable suppliers in the country. There are private clinics and hospitals, however costs are required to be made upfront. Each countries foreign travel advice department however strongly suggests obtaining comprehensive travel insurance to cover all forms of overseas medical costs.

Safety

We all have heard of the many safety issues that have surrounded Nigeria most especially of recent times, including kidnapping, terrorism and political violence. Although this can occur anywhere in the country, certain parts are more dangerous than others, it is therefore advisable to avoid such parts if possible. Safety warnings have been issued against the following States: Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

Going around, just like anywhere else in the world, ensure to be vigilant at all times. Getting around is relatively easy with various methods of transportation from motorcycles (‘Okada’), tuk-tuks (‘Keke Marwa/Keke napep’), buses and taxi’s however public transportation should be taken with caution;  for instance, avoid taking taxi’s unless through a reputable provider (i.e. Uber and Taxify). Unnecessary road travel after dark should be avoided outside major urban areas, and in urban areas avoid travelling alone at night and ensure you are in a secure vehicle.

Finally…Enjoy!

There is a lot to do in Nigeria; whether it’s climbing Olumo Rock in Ogun State, taking part in the colorful Calabar carnival, to clubbing in Nigeria’s own city that doesn’t sleep, Lagos, the fun does not end! Enjoy being around people from the same (or different) culture, the weather and hit up great spots (and Lagos and Abuja are not the only cities that have them!)

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