Nigeria is not generally at the top of people’s international travel wish list like Thailand or Jamaica for various reasons. The visa application process can be time consuming and a pain in the rear, the country has a reputation for corruption, and expats are often concerned about their safety, likely in part due to numerous governments advising their citizens to steer clear of Africa’s most populous nation. However, if you’ve decided to travel to Nigeria, here are some tips to keep you safe.
Travel to the Major Cities
Nigeria’s major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, and Port Harcourt are relatively safe for foreigners. In fact, many expats have called Abuja, Lagos, and neighboring Ogun State home for decades without any major issues. If your travel is limited to these areas, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Practice Street Smarts
Basic safety precautions should be taken when traveling to Nigeria just as one would when traveling to any other major country in the world. This includes avoiding wearing flashy jewelry and clothes when possible, staying away from known high-crime neighborhoods, limiting the amount of money on you at any given time, and avoiding flashing money, especially significant amounts of money, in public.
Avoid Looking Like a Tourist
Looking like a tourist when traveling to any country opens doors for opportunists to attempt to take advantage of you. Try to take in the sights and sounds without making it obvious to people around you that you are seeing everything for the first time.
If you get lost, don’t panic and certainly do not appear to be lost. Instead, calmly ask for directions from someone at a reputable business nearby.
Do Not Keep All Your Cash and Credit Cards in the Same Place
Losing your wallet in a foreign country can be devastating, especially if it contains all your money and ATM cards. In the unlikely event that your wallet is lost, it is best if you have some cash reserves or a few backup credit cards locked away in your hotel room.
Beware of Scammers
While Nigeria is not a country full of scammers as some in the media would have you believe, the nation does have its share of fraudsters ready to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors through scams (known locally as 419).
Be sure to research forums and expat groups for details on the latest scams before traveling to Nigeria.
It is also recommended that you speak with natives about the general cost of local goods before going shopping, in order to avoid being overcharged.
Avoid Travel to High-Risk Regions
Travel to some parts of Nigeria is highly discouraged, due to terrorism and kidnapping threats from groups like Boko Haram in northern states like Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, and Adamawa.
It is highly advisable to also avoid travel to the Niger Delta region (except for Port Harcourt) due to kidnapping, civil unrest and maritime crime.
Seek Extra Security If Necessary
High profile individuals, VIPs, or those simply seeking added security for an extra level of comfort can seek out armed police escort services from Hogan Guards to keep you protected during your entire stay.
Have a Good Time
As long as you exercise these basic safety precautions and stick to the major cities, you shouldn’t have any issues while you are in Nigeria.
If you stand out from the local population, you are far more likely to receive positive attention from curious citizens than to be at any risk of harm.