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General Information  (Reviewed, 27th May 2005) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

All the links below are on this page
NBI
The Land and The People Time Customs Requirements
Language Electric Current Required Vaccinations
The Cultures Cost of Living Travel Modes into Nigeria
The Nigerian Currency Security Local Travel Agents
Mode of Driving Hints on Advance Fee Fraud ( 419)  
Business Hours Obtaining Visa/Entry Permits  

The Land and The People

White Cap chiefs of Lagos, one of the enduring symbols of Isale Eko, Lagos State.The area called Nigeria is lying wholly within the tropics along the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast. Nigeria is one of the largest countries in Africa covering a total land area of 923,768 square kilometers. Nigeria is a highly engaging but sometimes frustrating country. Nigeria is also the largest populated country in the whole of Africa.

The country ‘Nigeria’ is bounded in the West by the republic of Benin, while on the East is the Republic of Cameroon. In the Northern area, it shares its boundary with the Republic of Niger and Chad and in the southern area; we have the Atlantic Ocean known variously along the West Coast as the Gulf of Guinea.

The entire landscape of Nigeria is divided into various geographical zones. In the southern area, we have the mangrove and swampy coastline. Moving further up is the forest zone, which takes over to a depth of 100 kilometers and 160 kilometers northward. This area has appearance of an almost unbroken carpet of green tree tips with small clearing and farms spotted here and there.

Followed suit is the savannah region; this is basically a grassland area with pockets of trees dotting the landscape. At the end of the savannah regime is the Sahel region, which is purely a sandy terrain.

However, it must be stated that the environment in each of the various regions determined the traditional occupation of the people inhabiting each of the regions. In the southern part where we have pockets of streams and rivers, the traditional occupations of the populace are fish farming and salt making. The mode of movement is generally through canoes. However, people in the forest region are predominantly farmers and hunters and movements of people and foods are mostly conducted through bush paths. In the savannah area, where it is purely grassland, the people are mostly cattle farmers. The movements of people & goods are usually conducted with the use of donkeys and camels.

In spite of differences in the geographical terrain as endowed by nature, there were outer-group relations existing among the people of Nigeria before the advent of colonialism. The white colonialist brought along with them the seed of disunity as an instrument of achieving smooth administration of their colony. The problems the country has been facing since independence are mostly a result of the colonial legacy bequeathed on the country by the white colonialists and the actions of some inept and obtuse leaders.

There are about 250 ethnic groups inhabiting the entire area called Nigeria. The Yorubas are found within the western region, while the Igbos are found in the eastern part of the country. The Hausas, Kanuris, etc are found in the northern part of the country. However, within the South southern part, we have the Ijaws the Anarys, the Itesekiris and the Isobo/Isoko, Ibibio etc. We also have the Tivs, Jukuns and certain ethnic nationalities in the now more discernable middle belt.

Government and political History

At independence in 1960, the country was administered along the regional lines. In the North, Sir Ahmadu Bello was the premier, while Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was the Eastern premier, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo held sway in the west as the premier. These arrangement, which was midwifed by British government of the time, later brought about ethnicity. Everybody was trying to put forward an ethnic agenda rather than a national agenda that could bring about the unity of the country. Efforts were made by some leaders later after independence to change the direction or re-focusing the entire populace towards a unified and purposeful national agenda.

Efforts of General Yakubu Gowon in creating twelve states out of the three regions is worth mentioning at this point. However in the mid 1970s when General Murtala Mohammed became the Head of state, he created additional states taking the total to 19. Today, Nigeria has 36 states.

Nigeria has witnessed right from independence series of political crisis, beginning with the first military coup of 1996, which was led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, to the counter coup of July 1966, which brought about the emergence of General Yakubu Gowon. In 1976, February 13 to be precise, there was the Dimka coup which was unsuccessful, but which led to the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed, the then Head of State. In October, 1979, the Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo successfully handed over the reigns of government to an elected executive government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari but the democratic experience did not last long before it was terminated on various excuses by the military. Led by General Buhari and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, before the regime could achieve much, there was a palace coup, which brought about the regime of General Ibrahim Babaginda, this regime however lasted for 8 years. The second attempt at democratic experience, which was promised by General Ibrahim Babaginda, did not come to be. It was frustrated by a cabal in the military and their civilian collaborators. The regime conducted what has been generally described as the most peaceful and internationally acclaimed elections in the history of Nigeria and black Africa. The late M.K.O. Abiola was the presumed winner of the Presidential election.

The entire elections were annulled, and an interim arrangement was foisted on the country with Chief Shonekan as the chairman of the Interim Government, as a result of General Ibrahim Babangida stepping aside from governance in August, 1993. This did not last, by November of the same year, General Sanni Abacha through a palace coup seized power and became the Head of State. There was a lot of spontaneous reaction most especially from the south-west, and it led to the emergence of various human rights organisations who felt that Nigerians had had enough of Military rule  and that the country should be allowed to practice democracy like many nations of the world. They also added that the military had not improved the lot of Nigerians. There were also pronouncements and ultimatums that the June 1993 elections should be actualised in the interest of the unity of this country. In 1998, the regime of General Sanni Abacha came to an end with his death. General Abdulsalam Abubakar came on board with a promise to return the country to democratic governance come may 29, 1999. This he fully abided with and on May 29,1999 retired general Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as Nigeria's elected executive president.

The current administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, who is on his second 4-year term, has done a lot to try to heal the wounds of the past years and also in trying to bridge the gap and refocusing the entire populace towards a united and stable Nigeria. He has set up commissions to look into amending the Nigerian constitution and also the country's local government system. He has also set up the Niger Delta Development Commission whose duty is to ensure meaningful, people-centred development in the country's most volatile region. Presently, the National Political Reforms Conference, convened by the Federal Government is sitting in Abuja in an effort to make recommendations to reform the country's political and other systems.

Nigeria has had a fair share of political crisis since independence and the country is now on course to use those experiences as sources of strength to attain greater heights.

Language

The official language is English and is understood mainly by the literates. There are 3 main indigenous languages spoken by the 3 predominant ethnic groups in Nigeria. These are Yorubas in the west, Hausa-Fulani in the North and the Igbos in the East. There is also the "broken English" (Pidgin English) spoken and understood by almost all Nigerians; non-literates, semi-literates and literates.  It is an admixture of the English Language and several indigenous Nigerian Languages. There exists also other ethnic groups' languages such as Efik, Ijaw, and Kanuri languages, etc and scores of dialects within the ethnic groups.

Note: To break language barrier, prospective visitors may engage the services of a translator. Almost all the places of interest would have attendants who would understand Nigeria's Pidgin English.

The Cultures

Nigeria is a beautiful country endowed with rich cultural heritage and has over 2,000 years of art history. Besides the popular Nok Tera Cota, Benin, Ife and Jos reveal a vast display of the traditional and contemporary artifacts of Nigeria.

Apart from art works, the culture of Nigeria can also be x-rayed in almost all aspects of the life of Nigerians. In spite of the long period of romance with the Islamic and Western cultures, traditional cultures still hold sway amongst the people, especially in the south.

Nigeria can be described as a multi-lingual country. Apart from the 3 major languages of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, there are still other sub-ethnic languages such as Urhobo, Nupe, Tiv, Jukun, Kanuri, Birom, Ijaw, Edo and scores of dialects consisted within the major and sub-ethnic languages.

There are varieties of food amongst each of the major ethnic and sub-ethnic groups. The traditional food of the Hausa/Fulani of the North include Tuwo Shinkafa (made from mashed rice grain) and Tuwo masara (made from mashed corn grain) which are served and eaten with Ewedu or Okro soup. The Yorubas' traditional delicacies include Iyan (pounded yam) and Amala (made from cassava or yam flour) and are served and eaten with Ewedu, okro or Egusi soup. Meat of various types also abound. Fish, chicken, beef, pork and bush meat are the varieties from which anyone can choose. Among the Calabar people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, Edikan-ikun is a special dish for would-be visitors who have a taste for traditional food. And among the Igbo of Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Enugu states, Isi-ewu is cherished.

Folklore still features amongst various ethnic groups in Nigeria. Elders tell the stories of their ancestral warlords, stories of man’s didactics, stories to impact morals into the young ones. These stories are told mostly by the moonlight. However because of the prevailing modernisation and urban setting, these stories are now often told on the television and radio.

In the area of sport and relaxation, there are varieties of indoor and outdoor games such as "ayo", wrestling competitions, horse riding, hunting for games, swimming etc. Wrestling competition for example, forms a part of Nigerian village life, both in the Northern and Southern parts of the country. This wrestling duel is often associated with marriage when young suitors would be required to prove their physical prowess to justify their choice of spouse from a particular group. It also used to be a way of identifying young men with strength that could be reckoned with when there was the need for defence from outside attack.

Marriage in Nigeria is not restricted to the major participants; husband and wife. From the choice of partners to the actual contraction of marriage, members of the extended family always have inputs. The pattern of ceremony in the wedding day says much about the level of communal supports, family ties and bond that is still part of Nigeria’s cultures.

Names given to children at birth are usually based on events surrounding their birth, the family professions, family traditional titles, positions held in the family, religious persuasion of the family and so on.

Ancestral worship and veneration of phenomena considered possessing supernatural powers form the bedrock of Nigeria traditional religions. However, Olodumare, (God in Yoruba belief) Chineke or Chukwu (names given to God amongst the Igbo) and Obangidi (God in Hausa language) remain the object of worship amongst traditional religious people.

Almost all the major and sub-ethnic groups in Nigeria have distinctive mode of dressing. The Yoruba men wear agbada (a large flowing gown) buba (moderate gown) sokoto and a cap. The women put on buba, ipele, gele, iro and idiku as ceremonial wears. The ceremonial attire of the male Igbo includes big buba and a wrapper with a cap. The women adorned themselves with buba, iro and gele. The Hausa/Fulani male dress is babariga and sokoto.

It must be stated however that, Islamic and Western cultures have influenced greatly the mode of dressing of the peoples of Nigeria.

Some parts of the culture of sub-groups in Nigeria have come under condemnation in recent times. Cultures such as female circumcision, body scarification and tattoos, child marriage and other traditional practices considered to be harmful have come under attack.

The point must however be made clear that culture is not static. It changes with time. Most of the apparently more high profile cultures of the world today have undergone quite a lot of evolution before they attained their present statuses.

The Nigerian Currency

The currency is expressed in Naira (N) while the coin is in kobo (K). 100K equal One Naira (1N). The currency denominations are in N5, N10, N20, N50, N100, N200 and N500. The coins are expressed in the denominations of 10k, 25k, 50k and N1 coin, and we must add hardly used in everyday transactions. The Nigerian Naira is currently exchanging about N140 to $1.

Mode of Driving

Nigeria operates a right hand drive/left hand steer system as in most countries of Europe and America. Driving in Nigeria. particularly Lagos, is not for the fain-hearted. Most motorists, especially the commercials, are forever in a hurry and are apparently ignorant of safe and considerate driving.

Business Hours

States and federal civil service and parastatals open Monday to Friday 8.00am – 3.30pm. On Fridays, school and college pupils close at 1.00pm and Muslim workers observe Jumat service between 1.00pm – 2.00pm. Higher institutions of learning open Monday to Friday 8.00am – 6.30pm Banks open Monday, 8.00am – 4.00pm. Few Banks operate on Saturday, 9.00am – 12.30pm. Other business offices open Monday to Friday 8.00am – 5.00/6.00pm. Few private offices open on Saturday and Sunday. Almost all the fast food joints on Sundays 10.00am – 9.00pm.

Shopping centres open Monday – Friday 8.00pm – 6.00pm and Saturday 8.00am – 4.00pm. Local markets open Monday – Saturday 8.00am – 7.00pm and occasionally extending into late evenings. Some localities have "Night Markets" and open Monday – Sunday, 8.00pm – 12mid-night.

Sunday is mostly observed as a day of rest, church services or for visiting family and friends. Most traditional weddings are contracted Fridays – Sundays.

Time

GMT/UTC Plus one hour.

Electric Current

220 Volts, 50Cycles A/C. Where appliances' electric capacity do not fall within this specification; adapter/voltage converter is needed before plugging such appliances into any sockets. 3 pin 13amps are the common sockets in Nigeria. Power supply may be interrupted as a result of unforeseen circumstances, but all major hotels have stand-by generating plants in case of eventuality.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Nigeria is relatively less expensive compared to many cities in the western world. There are varieties of accommodation and meals from which travelers or visitors could choose from, depending on taste and economic wherewithal of the individual. There are local, continental and intercontinental dishes in most hotels. At any rate, a budget class traveler or visitor can incur a daily expense of about US $40 ($1 USD = N140). This is subject to the prevailing autonomous rate of local currency at the time of visit, the city you are visiting. The cost may include the cost of food, accommodation, shuttles within the city, social events tickets, etc, but may not include interstate travels. The executive class business tourist and traveler may spend an average of US $300 to US $500 a day. The cost of inter-city or intra-city road transportation varies depending on distance, type of automobile, haggling power of the individual and the road topography. However, a traveler may require an average of about US $30 a day to cover the major cities in Nigeria if moving around by taxis. There is also a cheaper alternative in the form of minibuses, buses and motorcycle shuttles (Okada) which could easily cost a visitor less than US $10.00 a day It should be borne in mind that this could be an inconvenient and ineffective mode of transport, especially for the business traveler.

Security

Presently, police checkpoints are outlawed on Nigerian roads but occasionally routine police checks may be experienced. Local drivers are in the best position to answer police questions. Travelers should always keep travel documents handy and shun all forms of illegal deals. There is no law restricting night movements but occasionally restrictions may be placed on movements for a specified period of time. It is to an individuals’ advantage to comply anytime occasion demands. When keeping late night, it is advisable to make arrangements for transportation and where a traveler uses his own car, he must ensure he has photocopies of all documents of the vehicles and his driver's licence or permit.

Warning

It is advisable to be security conscious always. Never get involved in shady deals that may make you run foul of the law. Keep your belongings where you lodge and when going out it is advisable you have photocopies of the pages of your travel documents and passport with you, in case, they may be demanded for by the law enforcement agents. However it must be stressed that this hardly ever happens.

Your valuables such as foreign currencies or travelers’ cheques should be kept safe where you lodge. It is dangerous to carry huge sums of money on outings. Beware of keeping prostitutes or inviting acquaintances into your room where you keep your valuables. Be on guard. Avoid sudden and friendly offers of drinks, beer, fruits and even food from people unknown to you. You may be drugged. Beware of fraudsters, don’t fall a victim by being greedy and/or gullible.

Always keep the exterior doors and windows under lock anytime you are out of your apartment. If the key to any door, sideboard, cupboard, wardrobe, is lost, let it be replaced immediately. Do not open your door to unknown persons. Before retiring to bed, check all your doors and windows and ensure that all electric appliances are switched off.

Note the under listed emergency calls:

  • Police 199

  • Fire ambulance 999

  • Operator 190

  • NITEL faults 192

  • Enquiries 194

  • Speaking clock 191

If at the time of distress, assistance does not come promptly from the expected authority, an alarm specifying the type of danger one is encountering should be raised to alert the neighborhood. In the case of fire outbreak or armed robbery, a shout of "Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!" or, "Thief Thief!! Thief!!!" as the case may be is a form of tolerated alarm at any location in Nigeria.

Hints on Advance Fee Fraud A.K.A 419

Advance free fraud, otherwise known as 419 in Nigeria simply means the demand for and payment of advance fee in form of tax, brokerage, bribe etc. under the pretence that such is needed to consummate a business deal whether the business itself is genuine or not. The term 419 is derived from section 419 of the Nigeria criminal code that dealt with this offence before the promulgation of the Advance fee fraud Decree No. 13 in 1995.

Advance fee fraud is introduced to intended victims through scam letters containing false information on:

  • Millions of Dollars from over invoiced contracts in Nigeria.

  • Millions of dollars from frauds left by deceased persons.

  • Contracts for the purchase of vehicles, computers, accessories, and medical equipment etc. all running into millions of dollars.

  • The sales or crude oil.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Fraudsters have some subtle but tactical ways of making their request to their victims. They impersonate persons of social distinction giving themselves bogus prefixes such as Doctor, Prince, Alhaji, Engineer, Chiefs, His Royal Highness (HRH) etc. They also lay claim to position of high status as in being Chief Executive Officers, Chairman, Executive Director, etc. These positions are claimed to be held in government offices like the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Security Printing & Minting Company (NSPMC), Nigeria Telecommunications PLC. (NITEL), Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) Ministry of Defense (MOD) etc.

These are calculated efforts to lure their victims into fruitless business contacts. Visitors are encouraged to resist all temptation to entertain moves that would yield transactions. Report any contact or approach that you suspect for assistance to.

Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman,
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),
15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos,
Tel: +234-1-262-1293, 262-4187
Fax: +234-1-262-4189
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.efccnigeria.org/

d) Prompt contact with the nearest police station or Nigerian embassy or High Commission is also a veritable form of security.

What Not To Do

  • Do not respond to the scam letters either by email, physical mail or  fax.

  • Do not agree to any proposed meeting.

  • Do not part with your money under any circumstances.

  • Do not reveal or give out your bank account number, you could be duped.

  • Do not be convinced by documents carrying the insignias/logo of Federal Government of Nigeria, central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria. National Petroleum Corporation, or any other Nigeria Government Agency. Such document may be forged.

  • Do not accept proposals for remittance of money into your bank account. There is no money to be remitted.

  • Ensure security of your vital documents relating to bank accounts, international passports, identity cards, fax/telephone numbers, insurance certificates, company letterhead papers, contractual agreements etc.

  • Do not prolong communication as this may convince or lure you into avoidable mess.

  • Do not give out documents or other information about yourself or business especially bank or passport & particulars as this may serve as the basis for fraud.

The Nigerian Government has put a lot of measures in place to curb the menace of fraudsters; all the visitors need do is to contact relevant agencies for necessary information for foreign investors who may want to circumvent the law for the purpose of falling victims of the fraudsters or dupes.

GUIDELINES ON EMBARKING ON TRIPS TO NIGERIA

Obtaining Visa/Entry Permits

Any foreigner visiting Nigeria must possess a valid entry visa from Nigeria Foreign Embassy or through commission abroad if the intending visit will not last more than 3 months.

Exemptions are however granted to ECOWAS citizens who have valid passports or ECOWAS TRAVELLING CERTIFICATES. Exemption from visa requirements is granted also to Cameroonian nationals and those with which Nigeria has bilateral visa agreements.

Requirements for Visa at Nigeria's Embassies and High Commissions

I. Current international passports valid for at least 6 months.

II. Return tickets.

III. Evidence of availability of enough maintenance funds, while in Nigeria; at least 500 U.S.A dollars (Usually about US $500).

IV. Supporting letter from applicant’s firm (where necessary).

V. Letter of invitation from Nigeria (where necessary).

VI. Must be sound mentally and physically.

VII. Must have crime free record.

Customs Requirements

Tourist and temporary visitors can bring in any items, except hard drugs, ammunition, and pornographic materials. Banned drugs such as cannabis, hashish, psychotheraphic drugs

Foreigners can bring in bottled water, biscuits, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks for personal consumption. Customs duties will be charged on items of commercial quantities.

Required Vaccinations

Foreigners intending to visit Nigeria must have

  • Certificate/Evidence of cholera vaccination (if coming from a cholera endemic zone).

  • Certificate/Evidence of smallpox vaccination.

  • Certificate/Evidence of yellow fever vaccination.

  • Certificate/Evidence of rabies vaccination.

Foreigners are free to leave Nigeria with souvenirs. Items so classified can be taken away except antiquities and some artifacts for which a license must be obtained. The license is obtainable from:

The Curator,
National Commission of Museum and Monuments,
Onikan, Lagos, Nigeria.

Or any of the state commission’s offices. We also suggest that you make enquiries to be abreast of the rules guiding movement with souvenirs. Your guide can assist you on this.

Travel Modes into Nigeria

Travelers can enter Nigeria through three (3) routes; by road through neighbouring West African Countries, direct by air or by sea. Before embarking on your journey, see the under listed:

  • Booking of tickets in advance

  • Making enquiries about accommodation and confirm bookings.

  • In case you expect somebody to pick you at the port, notify the person ahead except if he/she can be contacted on phone or email. It is however better to give enough notice.

  • Keep enough money with you.

Entering Nigeria by Road

You can enter Nigeria by roads through these neighbouring countries:

  • Benin Republic

  • Cameroon Republic

  • Niger Republic, and

  • The Republic of Chad.

The documents required are in addition to the presentation of your valid passport and visa or entry permit:

  1. International driving permit.

  2. International Certificate for Motor Vehicle.

If the foreigner is coming in with a personal vehicle, the vehicle must be insured against third party Risk. And on arrival visitors must report to any of these offices to get his documents stamped and to receive travelers’ circulations permit:

  • Principal Licensing authority, Abuja or Lagos.

  • Principal Commander in-charge of Uniform Licensing Unit, Abuja or Lagos.

  • National Headquarters, Federal Road Safety Commission, Abuja or Lagos.

  • Local Principal Licensing Authorities located at various Local Government Headquarters

  • Nigerian Police Headquarters

If the visitor is a member of the 120 member countries of the 1949 United Nations International Convention on Road Traffic and Driving Permit to which Nigeria is a signatory, he may drive in Nigeria for a period of up to one year with his valid International Driving permit and International Certificate for Motor Vehicles.

Entering Nigeria by Air.

Major International Airports of arrival are:

  • Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

  • Aminu Kano International Airport Kano.

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Many international airlines operate flights to and from Nigeria. These include Lufthansa, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Dutch KLM, Aeroflot, Air France, etc.

Local Air Travel

If you require to travel by air within Nigeria, we suggest that you contact any of the following local airlines who cover many cities in the country. It cost around $90 for a one-way flight to most parts of the country.

  • Belleview airlines 01 – 4670061, Fax 01- 2669390.

  • ADC Airlines 01 – 4965750, Fax – 01-49700861. 

  • Harco Airlines M.M. Airport, Ikeja, 

  • Kabo Airlines M.M airport, Ikeja.

  • Okada Airlines, M.M. Airport, 

  • Oriental Airport M.M. Airport Ikeja, 

  • Albarka Airline, M.M. Airport Ikeja. 

Local Travel Agents

Tess Travels, Tafawa Balewa, Lagos, 01-2631156, fax: 2634849. All States Travels, Kano –064-631640, Soltan Travels & Tours 01-2693358 fax 01-2693590. Conference – cane Travels Bureau, Port Harcourt 084-30112, Five Star Travels Ikoyi –01-2690184-193, cross + keys travel services, Victoria Island 01-2621531-2, fax 262-1533, J.F. Aviation & Travel, Festac, 01-5880378 JKN Travels & Tours, Apapa, 01-5451605, HRN Travel, Yaba, 01-866101. Jakie Travels, Lagos 01-2666699, 2667357, fax 01-614861, Merion Travels, Victoria Island, 01-261297, fax 01-610708. Nihshan Travel Agency, Port Harcourt, (084) –238523, 331188, Dai Silva Tourism Services 01-5831398, Jet travels, TBS, Lagos 01-26344928, Continental Travels Tel: 2631699, 2636063, Webisa International Tourist Centre, Surulere, Lagos 01-801600, 4830933, Shaba Aviation Publications, Tel 01-2664804, fax: 266379. BAO Travel Agency, Abeoukta. Tel 039-260719.

Note: Visitors are advised to contact relevant agents, guides or the foreigner’s home embassy in Nigeria for guidance on Intra-country movements especially on the day of arrival and advice on how to carry out certain routine transactions such as money exchange at different locations and other safety measures. 

Picture: White Cap chiefs of Lagos, one of the enduring symbols of Isale Eko, Lagos State.

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