Difference between revisions of "Nigeria"
Revision as of 03:11, 7 December 2007
Nigeria  is a country in equatorial West Africa. It is the continent's most populous nation. It has a southern coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, and has Benin to the west, Cameroon to the southeast, Chad to the northeast, and Niger to the north.
Varies; equatorial in the south, tropical in the center, arid in the north. Natural hazards include periodic droughts and flooding.
Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in the southeast, plains in the north. The Niger river enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea.
Nigeria is a former British colony and a member of the British Commonwealth.
On 12 December 1991 the capital was officially transferred from Lagos to Abuja; most federal government offices have now made the move to Abuja.
Following nearly 16 years of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in May 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed. The president faces the daunting task of rebuilding a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, the Yar'adua administration must defuse longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, if it is to build a sound foundation for economic growth and political stability.
Most travellers will need a visa and these can be tricky to get. In 2007,the Nigerian government refused a visa for Bill Gates , wanting proof he would not stay and become a drain on their welfare system.
Getting around is relatively easy, except that there could be delays owing to traffic jams within most major cities. As usual, there are multitudes of coaches and buses that will take you to any part of Nigeria you wish (ABC Transport Services is well known for its services among others). Lagos state government also operates a transit system (BRT buses) which serves the Lagos metropolis.
Transport by boat isn't widespread unless you venture into the riverine areas of Nigeria.
It would be best to travel around in your own car or a hired one but there are various other modes of transport. The "okada" (motorcycle) is not for the faint-hearted (no helmets) and should only be used for short distance journeys. "Okadas" will get you to where you want to go quickly and you will get there in one piece. In Lagos, there are lots of buses and taxis. There are two main types of buses, the molue and the danfo. Most smaller cities have more taxis than buses but getting around isn't an issue once you know where you want to go or you can communicate in the languages (English, Yoruba,Igbo, Hausa, Pidgin).
Lots of aggressive street sellers surround the car when you get to crossroads. You shouldn't have a problem if you keep the windows and doors locked however.
Nigeria's currency is the naira. On 1 August 2007 there were 127.10 naira to the US dollar.
It is advised to cash all your naira back into US dollars at the airport before you leave Nigeria. The rate is irrelevant, as the naira is worthless outside Nigeria. Naira bills/coins may be of interest to currency collectors, but other than that, they will be nothing more than colorful souvenirs of your trip. Be warned that some of the dollar bills you'll get from street vendors will likely be counterfeit, so stick with established banks for your currency exchange needs.
If you have a VISA card, you can withdraw money from Standard Chartered Bank ATM Machine's in Lagos - Aromire St., off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja & Ajose Adeogun St. in Victoria Island Branch, Abuja and Port Harcourt (in Naira). This will save you a lot of stress carrying large sums of money and it is secured.
MasterCard / Maestro users can also withdraw Money from ATMs at several branches of Zenith Bank. Look for the red ATM sign outside, or ask the on-site security officer at any branch. Also look for Ecobank.
It is advisable you know where to buy things well in advance of your going out. This can save you exposure to hoodlums who can attack based on your lack of knowledge of places. Nigerian Yellow Pages provides list of businesses, contact addresses and phone numbers. The best thing to do is to locate the business, call their representative, who can give you detailed information on how to locate them.
On the market, you are supposed to haggle for your goods (a notable exception is bread: its price is fixed). As a general rule, the real price is about half the price that was first asked. The seller may exaggerate the price when he or she thinks that you are a rich tourist ignorant of the real price. After agreeing on a price, don't walk away without buying, this is considered very rude.
There are many types of traditional cuisine to enjoy. For example: Okra soup, plantain (fried, boiled, roasted), pepper soup, amala, eba, efo, pounded Yam (Iyan - Yoruba for "pounded yam"), jollof rice, ground nut soup, ogbono soup, Isi Ewu (goat's head stew), egusi soup, suya (kebab), ewedu, edikangikong, ground-rice, puff-puff, chin chin, ikokore, owerri soup (Ofe Owerri), which is the most expensive African Soup in Nigeria. Not to forget 404 pepper soup - it will make you act like Oliver Twist.
Other drinks to consider include: palm wine, wine, zobo (red soft drink, is a tea of dried roselle flowers), kunun, Kai Kai.
The northern states have implemented sharia (islamic) law, which means that alcohol is prohibited. Ironically, the only places where you can drink a beer in these states are the police staff bars and the army barracks, because these are institutions under federal law.
There are lots of private and public primary (elementary) and secondary (high) schools. It is worth it to organize a trip to whatever institution of learning you are interested in as this would give you a personal perspective on what facilities are available in your school of interest. There is a nationwide, standardized common entrance exam for students wishing to go into secondary schools, after they have completed their primary schooling. To gain admission into the universities (both public and private universities are in every state of the federation including the FCT), a prospective student has to sit for and successfully pass the UME which is administered by JAMB. Also individual universities regularly screen prospective candidates to make sure they are up to par for university level work.
Working in Nigeria can be a very positive experience. Nigerian organizations tend to operate like small families, taking in newcomers with open arms and avoiding the coolness and sterility that often characterized the Western professional work environment. For instance, don't even think about coming into the office in the morning without greeting each of your colleagues. Even if you don't, be sure that they will go out of their way to greet you and inquire about your well-being.
It is hard to make generalizations about a country with 140 million inhabitants, but some Nigerians have a work ethic that would put most Westerners to shame. An eight-hour day (not including lunch) seems to be the norm, though it's not uncommon for people to stay late into the night and even come in for a few hours on weekends. Depending on the organization, a foreigner may be able to avoid this, but one should be prepared to work beyond the standard 35-40 hr work week. On the other hand, it's not unusual to arrive in an office during working hours and find staff members fast asleep on or under their desks, sitting around a TV in a staff lounge, or simply not there, without explanation.
The notion of "African Time" applies very much to the work environment in Nigeria. Meetings are regularly held later than scheduled and often take longer than necessary. Although Nigerians will unabashedly admit to their habitual tardiness, rarely does one see efforts to correct this behavior. Because punctuality is not strictly enforced, there is no incentive to arrive at a meeting on time if one knows that his time will be wasted waiting for the other participants. The higher ones position, the later one may arrive at a meeting. On top of that, starting the meeting before the important people arrive is very rude. The phenomenon of African Time is therefore a cyclical problem and one that is bound by a severe degree of inertia. One should note, however, that when dealing with foreign organizations, Nigerians will often make some efforts to correct this behavior, for some Nigerians are aware that their conception of punctuality is not shared by all.
Those who are used to the strict North American conception of political correctness at the office may be shocked by the more liberal inter-sexual relations in the Nigerian workplace. Mild sexual jokes are common in meetings and in the office in general, though usually good natured and harmless. Anyone working in the area of gender politics should also be prepared to suffer through tongue-in-cheek comments that one wouldn't dare utter in a professional setting in N. America. Nevertheless, so long as one is not too militant in their conception of political correctness, this form of Nigerian humor should not be a problem. In many cases it is even refreshing and adds a measure of healthy immaturity to otherwise strictly business-oriented meetings.
A white person working in an all-Nigerian workplace should also be prepared to frequently be reminded of their skin tone, though never in a nasty way. This can become tiresome, but Nigerians are generally very friendly generally use the term "Oyibo" (white man in Yoruba) or "Bature" (white man in Hausa) as a form of affection.
The use of professional titles in written and verbal form is very common in Nigeria. Expect to address your boss as Sir, Doctor, Colonel, etc., and avoid using the first name of a superior unless given permission to do so. Being a foreigner, you will be forgiven for any faux pas, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and politeness.
The mobile phone (cell phone) is an essential tool for virtually all urban - and most rural - Nigerians. Because of the instability of local networks, many people have two or even three "handsets", each on a different network. Anyone doing business in the country for more than a few days should consider having a mobile phone.
The Niger delta area is unsafe for tourists. There have been several kidnappings of foreign oil workers.
Swan water is the safe drinking water to look for approx 80 naira for a big bottle. The cheap "pure water" sold in plastic bags is cheaper but not as "pure" as SWAN. EVA water a brand by Coca Cola Company is also recommended.
It is advisable to purchase bottled water from convenience stores rather than by the road side. These upscale convenience stores usually purchase their supplies directly from the suppliers, along with soft drinks such as Coca Cola and other bottled beverage products.
Be aware of street salesmen. Actually, you could buy a lot of stuff while you drive your car but is not recommended, and most of the merchandise are Chinese copies of known brands like "Duracell" batteries and such.
As in all countries in Africa, the risk of infection of AIDS/HIV is high. Do not risk unprotected sex with strangers and even the person you think you know. Travellers to Nigeria are also required to vaccinate themselves against yellow fever, preferably 10 days before arrival in Nigeria. As malaria is prevalent, malaria pills are also recommended. Polio vaccination in Nigeria is intermittent and there is currently a high rate of infection in the north of the country.
If you are speaking the language, some of the languages have different ways of addressing those older than you, from those younger than you. You do not hand things over to people, especially adults and elders older than you, with your left hand. It's considered an insult.
You don't cross or jump over someone's legs if they are sitting with the legs extended out. It's considered bad luck.
Avoid shaking hands with elders and older people in the villages. It's disrespectful to do that. Can you bow down a little? Kneeling for women or prostrating by men is the normal thing to do. You may not need to do it either, but just show some form of respect when greeting older people. You can get away with not doing that in big cities or urban areas, they are less traditional there.
When entering a house designated as Mekules in the North, meaning there are Muslim women whose faces visiting men cannot see, you have to let them know in advance that you are visiting so that the women can retire to other parts of the house until your visit is over. Men are not supposed to see them because it is believed they would become corrupt by looking at other men and vice versa. Knock the door and wait to be answered before going in. They will ask you to wait while the women are informed. Do not be offended by the wait.
You will hardly be able to find your way in Nigeria unless you have been provided directions in advance.
The country code for Nigeria is 234.
Dialing out from Nigeria: you will need to dial +9 (followed by the) International Code (followed by the) phone digit numbers.
Dialing into Nigeria: callers use +234 (followed by the) phone digit numbers. There is also a company in Nigeria Elixir Communication Worldwide http://elixirworldwide.com that offers mobile phones for the blind and visually challenged. All the mobile operators have a roaming agreement with other mobile operators around the world.