Traveling Luck for Nigeria

Nigeria is located in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon.

Nigeria has borders with Benin for 773km, Cameroon for 1690km, Niger for 1497km and Chad for 87km.

Land in Nigeria is southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north.

Nigerian land covers an area of 923768 square kilometers which is slightly more than twice the size of California

As for the Nigerian climate; varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north.

Nigerian(s) speak English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani.

Nigerian National Map

Nigerian Map

Regions of Nigeria

Following nearly 16 years of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed. The president faces the daunting task of reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, the OBASANJO administration must defuse longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, if it is to build a sound foundation for economic growth and political stability. Although the April 2003 elections were marred by some irregularities, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since independence.


Nigeria Country Profile

Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under a new reform-minded administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from its overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth - Nigeria is Africa's most populous country - and the country, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms. Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. In the last year the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry. In 2003, the government began deregulating fuel prices, announced the privatization of the country's four oil refineries, and instituted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, a domestically designed and run program modeled on the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for fiscal and monetary management. GDP rose strongly in 2005, based largely on increased oil exports and high global crude prices. In November 2005, Abuja won Paris Club approval for a historic debt-relief deal that by March 2006 should eliminate $30 billion worth of Nigeria's total $37 billion external debt. The deal first requires that Nigeria repay roughly $12 billion in arrears to its bilateral creditors. Nigeria would then be allowed to buy back its remaining debt stock at a discount. The deal also commits Nigeria to more intensified IMF reviews.

Nigerian natural resources include natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land

the Niger enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea

Nigerian religion is Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%.

Natural hazards in Nigeria include periodic droughts; flooding.

Travel Advice on Nigeria

Nigeria

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Terrorism/Security section. The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all travel to the riverine areas of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States.  Riverine areas are generally regarded as being those accessible only by boat.  This is because of the high risk of kidnapping, armed robbery and other armed attacks in these areas.

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Akwa Ibom State and the rest of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, including Port Harcourt, because of the high risk of kidnapping, armed robbery and other armed attacks in these areas.  On 18 December 2006, two bombs exploded in Port Harcourt, one in a Shell residential compound and the other at Agip’s headquarters.  On 23 January 2007 a British and a US national were taken hostage while driving to work in Port Harcourt.

  • There is a high risk of further kidnappings by armed militants around the oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta.  In nine separate incidents since January 2006, 22 British nationals have kidnapped.  One Briton has been killed.  Since that time over 150 foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta area.  See the Terrorism/Security section of this travel advice for more details.

  • If you decide to travel to, or remain in, these areas you do so at your own risk.  The level of consular assistance we can provide in these areas is limited.  If your presence is essential, it would be reckless to travel to, or remain in, these areas unless you have taken appropriate professional security advice and have acted on it.

  • Campaigning for elections due in April 2007 has begun.  Localised unrest is likely and the security situation may deteriorate rapidly in the vicinity of election rallies.  The risk of crime in the Niger Delta is likely to increase in the run up to the elections.  You should remain extra-vigilant throughout this period.  See the Political Situation section of this travel advice for more details.

  • Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice.  Details and advice are circulated via the British High Commission's Community Liaison Officers' network.

  • Violent crime is especially prevalent in the south of the country, including Lagos.

  • The most common problems encountered by British nationals in Nigeria are attempts by scam artists to extract money from their intended victims.  These scams come in many forms and can cause considerable financial loss to victims.

  • You should be aware of the threat from terrorism in Nigeria.  A statement issued by Usama Bin Laden in February 2003 called for an uprising by Muslims in a number of countries including Nigeria.  He suggested that “faithful Muslims” rise up against the Nigerian Government.  He also referred to “support for brothers” in Nigeria in December 2004.

  • Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Nigeria have resulted in one human fatality.  As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.  For further information see Avian Influenza section below and also read Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Terrorism/Security

We advise against all travel to the riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and River States.  Riverine areas are generally regarded as being those accessible only by boat.  We also advise against all but essential travel to Akwa Ibom State and the rest of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, including Port Harcourt.  This is because of the high risk of kidnapping, armed robbery and other armed attacks in these areas.
If you consider that your journey is essential it would be reckless to travel to, or remain in, these areas unless, and until, you have taken full, appropriate professional security advice and have acted on it. You must be vigilant at all times and make sure that your local host and family know your travel plans and timings.  You should register with the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos on arrival.
There has been an increase in crime and armed attacks against expatriates in the Niger Delta.  Militants have carried out attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Delta and we believe that armed groups may be planning further attacks on oil and gas industry targets in the Delta, and other non oil and gas industry targets and individuals throughout the country. On 18 December 2006 two bombs exploded in Port Harcourt, one in a Shell residential compound and the other at Agip’s headquarters.  Further attacks are possible. As a result Shell have evacuated all dependants from the residential compound in Port Harcourt.  Other companies have followed suit.
There is an ongoing high risk of politically or financially motivated kidnapping, especially in the Niger Delta.  In nine separate incidents 22 British nationals were kidnapped between January and November 2006, one of whom was killed.  On 23 January 2007, a British national and a US national were taken hostage while driving to work in Port Harcourt.
Individuals have also been kidnapped at their place of work, including from offshore facilities.  We received reports of an attempt to try to lure an expatriate to a meeting at a remote location near Port Harcourt.  It was believed that this was an attempted kidnap.  When arranging meetings in Nigeria you should ensure that the contact is known to you, and that the meeting is held at a secure location.
The government has heightened its security presence in Port Harcourt.  Many companies have introduced strict restrictions on travel.  The risk has been further increased by the closure of Port Harcourt airport as journeys to the city now involve long road transfers through insecure areas. If you are a resident British national, you should follow your employer’s local security guidelines.
If you do visit, you should not travel between dusk and dawn, and avoid going to public places in Port Harcourt frequented by expatriates, including bars and restaurants.
You should be aware of the threat from terrorism in Nigeria.  A statement issued by Usama Bin Laden in February 2003 called for an uprising by Muslims in a number of countries, including Nigeria.  He suggested that "faithful Muslims" rise up against the Nigerian Government.  He also referred to “support for brothers” in Nigeria in December 2004.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.  Please read Security and General Tips and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas for further advice and information.
Crime
Violent street crimes including armed robberies, muggings and car-jackings are especially prevalent in the south of the country, including Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Foreign visitors and residents can be targeted by scam artists.  The scams come in many forms, and can pose great financial loss to victims.  If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Nigeria you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it.
Scam artists are also targeting individuals in the UK.  There are a myriad of schemes in operation by West African criminal networks designed to facilitate victims parting with money, known as advance fee or 419 fraud.  Nigerian scam artists are also known to be targeting internet dating/personal sites with the intention of soliciting money from victims.  For further information an advance fee fraud please see:  West African advance fee Fraud Alert

If you are concerned about someone who has travelled to Nigeria you should contact Consular Section of the Deputy High Commission, Lagos.

Political Situation

Nigeria Country Profile

Demonstrations and outbreaks of localised civil unrest and violence can occur with little notice throughout the country.  There is a particular risk of election-related violence and harassment in the moths running up to national and regional elections in April 2007.  There have already been several incidents in and around the Niger Delta.  Other incidents have occurred in the Niger Delta (Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Imo and Anambra), North (Kano, Borno, Jigawa and Katsina) and Central Nigeria (Taraba, Plateau and Benue states), South West (Oyo and Lagos) and the Cross-Rivers and Ebonyi border.

Details of those incidents are circulated to the British community via the British High Commission's Community Liaison Officers' network.

Demonstrations for or against, Sharia law may occur in northern states and can become violent without warning.  There have also been demonstrations about developments in the Middle East.  British nationals are not specifically targeted.  However, you should take care to avoid large crowds, demonstrations or disturbances, especially if you are driving.

Road Safety

If you are expecting a greeter or driver to collect you at any of Nigeria’s international airports you should ensure that he/she can properly identify themselves, as bogus greeters are a problem.

There are frequent reports of robberies and carjackings, some involving armed gunmen, on Nigeria's road network.  You should:
  • be vigilant when travelling on all major roads within Nigeria.
  • avoid travel after dark outside cities.
  • take care after dark within cities, avoiding secondary roads and areas where other traffic is light.
  • be particularly vigilant when sitting in traffic jams or at traffic lights at night.
  • keep your car windows and doors locked and valuables out of sight.

Traffic in many of Nigeria's major cities can be chaotic and slow moving.  Serious traffic jams in Lagos are not uncommon.  Short journeys that normally take minutes can sometimes take hours.  We advise you to take a mobile telephone with you when travelling by car so that you can stay in touch with family, friends and employers.  We also advise you to have a supply of bottled water in your vehicle at all times.

There are authorised as well as unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria.  Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money.  You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times.

Public transport is dangerous.  Taxis and long distance buses are poorly maintained and are often driven by fraudulent drivers.  Most major hotels offer cars for hire with drivers.  We would recommend that you use these where possible.

Road travel in Lagos is banned between 07:00 and 10:00 on the last Saturday of every month for municipal road clean up; police vigilantly enforce the ban.

Air Safety

Port Harcourt airport is currently closed for maintenance.

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU.  You should check http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm to see whether this will affect your travel.

There are a number of domestic airlines, although following a series of crashes there are concerns about their reliability.

British government staff based in Nigeria are strongly urged to use Virgin Nigeria and Aerocontractors wherever possible but have discretion to use other airlines to destinations not served by these two airlines where they judge that the risks of travel by road are at least as great.
Sea Safety
There have been attacks of piracy/armed robbery against ships at anchor in Nigerian waters and at many of the rivers and harbours in the Niger Delta area.  We advise mariners to take appropriate precautions.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in Africa.  You should exercise discretion in behaviour and dress, particularly in the north and during the Holy month of Ramadan and when visiting religious sites.
The Sharia penal code has been introduced in 12 northern states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe, Borno, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger and Gombe).  Homosexuality by Muslims in those states can attract a sentence of 100 lashes if the defendant is unmarried or stoning if married or divorced.  Alcohol consumption, infidelity and theft can attract harsh sentences including stoning, amputation, lashings or long prison terms.  Non-Muslims are not bound by Sharia law.
Homosexuality is illegal under Federal law, covering the whole of Nigeria, but individuals are rarely prosecuted.
Possession, use of or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textile fabrics, jewellery, and precious metals.  It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.   You should contact the Nigerian High Commission for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Photography in airports may lead to arrest.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All British nationals travelling to Nigeria must hold a valid visa before entering the country.  British nationals planning to work in Nigeria must obtain the correct visa before doing so.  For further information on entry requirements, we advise visitors to contact the Nigerian representation in the UK.

It is recommended that you obtain a new passport if your passport has less than six months validity remaining otherwise you may be turned away by airlines.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Nigerian High Commission in London.


HEALTH

You should ensure that you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance, which covers a provision for medical evacuation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance.
Basic, limited medical facilities are available in some parts of Nigeria.
HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Nigeria and there are also regular outbreaks of cholera and measles.  Polio is also endemic in Nigeria.  In 2006 there were 1,077 polio cases and northern Nigeria accounted for 56% of global cases.  The Global Polio Eradication Initiative reports that Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States have been classified as “very high risk” for polio.
Malaria is endemic in Nigeria.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in country or in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Nigeria.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
The first confirmed case of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Nigeria was announced by the World Organisation for Animal Health on 8 February 2006.  The outbreak occurred on a commercial chicken farm at Jaji in Kaduna State.  Since then, bird flu has been detected at other farms in Kaduna and in Kano, Plateau, Katsina, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Yobe, Rivers, Benue, Anambra, Ogun, Lagos, Taraba, Jigawa, Kwara, Delta, Borno, Sokoto, Adamawa, Edo, Enugu and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja and surrounds).  The first human case confirmed by the World Health Organisation was that of a 22-year-old Lagos woman who died on 16 January 2007.  Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Turkey and China.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. However, as a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form which is easily transmissible between people.
British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
We strongly advise British nationals staying in Nigeria for three months or more to register at the British High Commission in Abuja, British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, or Liaison offices in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, or with the Honorary Consuls in Kano and Warri.
As many crimes involve the theft of British passports, you should keep a photocopy of your passport, separately from your passport.  This will speed up the process of issuing a new one.
Airlines flying between Nigeria and London can occasionally become severely overbooked.  As a result, airlines advise travellers to reconfirm their return booking at least 48 hours before they are due to depart, and to check in early.
Money
Nigeria is a cash economy.  You should ensure that you bring enough currency (Sterling, US Dollars or Euros) to cover your costs.  It is illegal to change money on the street.  We strongly advise against the use of credit cards throughout Nigeria.  Travellers' cheques are difficult to cash in Nigeria.