TRAVEL INFORMATION

Pre-departure guide

Your trip to Nigeria should be very pleasant and engaging if you prepare ahead of time, and set out with an open mind. Visit Nigerian websites, like Nigerian newspapers, government sites, diplomatic/consular web sites etc. Travel information site like eBiz|MBA have proven quite competent in providing information about various travel sites that provide competitive fares and excellent customer services for flights to Nigeria. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website www.fco.gov.uk has fairly current and useful information on Nigeria. Most other foreign web sites have notoriously outdated or stereotypical and unreliable information. You need a balanced view. If possible, talk to an American who has visited Nigeria, or a Nigerian living in the United States. You should be able to discern that visiting a mega-city like Lagos – a kind of Nigerian New York – never gives the true picture of any country. Plan to visit smaller towns and more traditional locations.

Clothing

Nigeria is warm all-year, except for the occasional harmattan chill and some frigid temperatures on elevated areas like Jos and Pankshin in Plateau State and Obudu in Cross River State. Pack light cotton-based, comfortable clothing and a hat or cap and pairs of sandals for casual pursuits. No provocative dressing, please especially in the north or in the villages. For business meetings, pack a suit. Nigerian official dressing is conservative and formal. Dressing often determines the kind of reception you get and improper or casual dressing at an official engagement is not encouraged. But shirtsleeves and a tie are usually sufficient. Donning a traditional Nigerian attire is almost always a plus and conversation-starter. A foreigner in Nigerian clothing receives great admiration and trust. It is a good way to impress and earn confidence. Nigerian clothing is usually a loose embroidered or floral top and a pair of slacks or baggy shorts, or wrapper (a sari-like piece of colourful ankle-length cloth wrapped around the waist, for women). They come in a variety of colours, designs and textures – and prices. The clothing etiquette is different in the north, which has strong Arabic influence. Most workers and business people put on flowing robes – most of them white – or equally acceptable but more casual kaftans, with cuff links, and sandals. Nigerian wears do not require socks.

Food

You will find a rich array of Nigerian dishes in most restaurants and hotels. Almost all restaurants serve western foods. You can buy a plate of decent food for anything from 40 US cents to $100. The larger restaurants and bigger hotels offer specialized foreign cuisine. There are Chinese, French, American, Indian, Ethiopian, Italian, Lebanese and other pedigree of restaurants in big cities. Some Nigerian delicacies are sold outdoors over an eternally lit traditional barbecue machine. Kebabs (known as suya), roast plantain, corn, peanuts, yam and local plum (yummy with corn, available May to September) are very popular warm snacks loved across the social spectrum. A lot of Nigerian meals are a combination of vegetables, cassava (often locally processed into grains — garri), yam, potatoes and loads of fruits, fish, crayfish, meat (including game, known in Nigeria as bush meat). The pepper soup, fresh fish and bush meat are served as accompaniment to drinks in most bars. Edikang ikong, a rich, leafy delicacy from Efik land (and to some extent among the Ibibios) of the southeast is probably Nigeria’s most famous and most cosmopolitan meal. It is served in many restaurants from the smallest to the biggest hotels.

Drinks

You can find in Nigeria practically all the type of drinks you can buy in the United States – beers, sodas, scotch, brandies, champagnes, cocktails… The chapman, a non-alcoholic cocktail is a Nigerian specialty that thrills many visitors. Another one is of course the palm wine, which is “tapped” from the raffia palm tree and is sold fresh in suburbs or as sterilized bottled beers in some pubs. A popular traditional brew in the north is known as brukutu – a chocolate-coloured, faintly sour fermented drink made from sorghum. It is served in calabashes mostly in home brewery-bars. But brukutu festivals abound. Nigerians do not believe in splitting bills at the pub. As a matter of fact they often mock people who do. Many foreigners would consider it wise to pool their money together in advance and designate someone to pay on behalf of the group.

Free food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are usually served at parties, public and private functions. Provision is always made for uninvited guests and people accompanying invited guests. Another surprise to visitors is the fact that there is generally no fixed bar closing hours. Many bars will remain open until the last client is served - sometimes as late as 0500 hours. In Nigeria, there are no age restrictions for the purchase of alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. When a family has a visitor, a pre-teen boy is often sent out to buy beer next door. Interestingly, there is no problem of under-age consumption of adult products but children are not served alcohol in bars, of course. Cost of living is generally low in Nigeria.

Immigration

Citizens of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) do not require entry permit into Nigeria. All visitors not exempted from entry permits are advised to apply and obtain appropriate visas from the nearest Nigerian Diplomatic or Consular Mission before entry into Nigeria. Early application is advised to avoid delay. For additional information on the visa requirements, please visit Nigerian Immigration Service website.

Vaccination

Nigerian Health authorities require international certificates of vaccination against cholera and yellow fever from all visitors. Anti-malaria prophylactic is also recommended.

Export of Antiquities

No art treasure may be taken into or out of the country without written approval from appropriate Nigerian authorities such as the Department of Antiquities, National Museum Lagos or Jos. The law prohibiting the export of all forms of antiquity, including all ritual art or objects, even of contemporary make, is strictly enforced.

Business Hours

Government offices in Nigeria open between 0730 hours to 1530 hours. Monday through Friday, while commercial houses open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Most offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tourist Attractions

Nigeria boasts of a number of museums and monuments, games reserve and other natural and historical sites. These include the National Museum in Lagos, with branches in Jos, Benin and Kaduna. There is also the Ife Museum, the Oron Museum, the Esie Museum, the Kano Museum, the Owo Museum, the War Museum in Umuahia and the Calabar Museum. A museum of Black African Culture is housed at the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. The games reserves include Yankari, Ologbo, Old Oyo, Borgu, Orle River, Zugurma, Dagida, Alawa, Kwambana and the Kainji Lake Game Reserve. Other interesting sights are the Shere Hills, Jos; Olumo Rocks, Abeokuta; Zuma Rock, Abuja; Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring in Ekiti State; Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State; Kura Falls in Plateau State; Asorp Falls in Plateau State; the Osun River and groove in Oshogbo, Osun State; the Argungu Village in Kebbi State, especially during the fishing festival; and the first storey-building and the slave chains of the slave trade era located in Badagry, Lagos State.