Is it safe for westerners to travel to Nigeria? 10 tips for safety

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Many foreign countries have advised their citizens against traveling to Nigeria for safety reasons, especially the Northern part of the country, due to social vices that can lead to the loss of lives and properties. 

Is it as bad as it seems? Is it safe for Westerners to take a trip to Nigeria right now? Keep your attention focused on this article to find some safety tips to enjoy a hitch-free trip to Nigeria.

Is it Safe to Travel to Nigeria Right Now?

Nigeria is a blessed country located in equatorial West Africa. Nigeria is currently the most populous country in Africa. Hence, they are referred to as the giant of Africa.

Nigeria can be extremely dangerous if you don’t follow safety protocols!

You can always check the Nigeria travel ban update today.

Over the years, the country has battled serious security issues, especially in the Northern region of the country. However, the good news is that only a few areas in Nigeria are unsafe, and there are ways to navigate about without being hurt.

What states in Nigeria are safe?

1.   Osun State

Osun state is located in the southwest region of Nigeria. The capital of Osun state is Osogbo, and it shares borders with other states like Kwara and Ondo. It is one of the safest places you can find in the country. The indigenes are friendly, welcoming, and warm to foreigners.

2.   Ebonyi State

Ebonyi state is located in Nigeria’s east-southern region. It is an Igbo-speaking state, and it is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in the country. The state is home to hardworking residents who love peace. It has a low crime rate and has never been in the news for any bad cause. The capital of Ebonyi state is Abakaliki.

3.   Oyo State

Oyo state is situated in the southwestern region of the country. The state has a large expanse of land, and the biggest city in West Africa is located here. The state is peaceful, and visitors and tourists will have a fantastic time here. Oyo state is your surest option if you are a lover of sightseeing and ancient works.

4.   Kogi State

Kogi state is located in the North central region of Nigeria; it is commonly known as the confluence state. Kogi state is a tranquil state with indigenes that are industrious. It is a good location for Westerners because of its peaceful nature. Kogi state is hardly in the news for any terrible occurrence.

5.   Lagos State

Lagos state is the most industrious state in the country. It is home to many big firms and is the center of commerce, popularly known as the center of excellence. It is one of the most peaceful states because security is always in top gear due to the state’s security systems.

Lagos Nigeria

It is one of the few states with an emergency number to dial when you sense anything suspicious. The major roads have CCTV cameras that monitor every car that plies the road. The streets have street lights that help ensure that all dark areas protect you from miscreants hiding in the dark.

Dangerous Zones to Stay Away From

1.   Maiduguri City

It is the capital of Borno state and is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Nigeria. The reason is not far-fetched at all; there have been lots of attacks by the insurgent group. The most vivid one was the kidnapping of over 200 Chibok girls from their school in Maiduguri, Borno State.

It has been the center of all Boko Haram attacks in the country; this has made life almost unbearable for the residents who have lost properties and loved ones to these unfortunate events.

2.   Benin City

Benin City is located in Edo State. It has a high record of crime rates, so as a visitor, it is important to avoid moving late at night as most of the crimes are carried out at night. The most common crimes in this city are theft, vandalism, armed robbery, and kidnapping.

3.   Bauchi City

Bauchi has been experiencing unrest since 2010. However, unfortunate events have reduced drastically over the years. It has been another area where the Boko Haram group has wrecked lots of havoc. Thousands of people have lost their lives, and it is currently one of the unsafe places to visit in Nigeria.

4.   Plateau State

Plateau state, especially Jos, has been in the news due to the incessant security problems in the state. Most of the dispute arises due to religious and inter-tribal crises. In August 2021, more than 300 people lost their lives to unfortunate occurrences and attacks in the state.

Warnings and Dangers in Nigeria

Transport Risk

Not all transportation mediums are safe; booking a hired driver for mobility is better. Public buses and cabs might not be a good idea. It would make it difficult to navigate the new area and blend in because you will be easily spotted on the bus, which might make you a victim. Therefore, it is important to be careful when going out in Nigeria.

Terrorism Risk

Nigeria has been battling terrorist attacks for some years now. It is crucial to avoid the Northern and Northwestern region because that is where major attacks have been launched.

However, there have been terrorist attacks in other regions of the country. These attacks are mostly from a group of terrorists known as Boko Haram.

Scams Risk

Another thing you should be careful of when you take a trip to Nigeria is your financial safety. Scams are prevalent in Nigeria; double-check your change when you pay for an item, don’t make any payment upfront, and negotiate prices properly to avoid sellers cheating you.

Also, be careful with your credit cards, and keep your pins and cash flow private.

Women Travelers Risk

Although some parts of Nigeria are unsafe, avoiding walking alone as a woman is still highly imperative. Walking in groups and rolling up glasses properly when driving in a car is better.

Pickpocket Risk

Crime levels are high in Nigeria, and the statistics for petty and violent crimes are currently increasing. So, beware of pickpockets, bag snatching, carjacking, and many more when you’re alone.

Curfew and Communication Blackout

Due to increased violence and crime rates in some areas, restrictions have been placed on the fundamental human right of movement. Curfews have been implemented to curb some of these menaces. Make sure you inquire about the movement restrictions in an area before staying there.

In addition, telecommunication companies have stopped operations in some areas of the country. This implies that there will be no mobile connection or Wi-Fi.

Is Nigeria a High-Risk Country?

Most visits for ministers and tourists to Nigeria are safe. But this does not rule out the high rate of insecurity in the country. Kidnapping, armed robbery, vandalism, inter-tribal wars, and religious wars, amongst others, occur in different regions within Nigeria. 

There are other threats like Boko haram and Niger Delta militants. However, most Niger Delta militants have been rehabilitated, and their activities have been reduced to the bare minimum. I wish we could say the same for Boko Haram, whose activities are heightened in Nigeria’s Northern and Northwestern regions. 

It is important to stay away from dangerous zones, be vigilant and get lots of information from people familiar with the places you will visit to understand their way of life and blend in well with the indigenes.

For safety purposes, traveling with someone who understands the language is crucial because sometimes things happen without any sign or warning. You must be aware of your environment and find safety when you encounter any challenging situation, don’t try to be the hero in this case; just lay low till everything dies down.

10 Safety Tips to travel to Nigeria

1.  Visit Major Cities

There are lots of major cities situated in Nigeria. They include Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, and Port Harcourt. These cities are relatively safe for foreigners traveling to Nigeria, with many fun and fantastic places that will make the trip worthwhile. So many people have lived in these cities for years without any cause for alarm; you should be safe in any of these cities.

2.  Avoid Volatile Regions

It is no news that Nigeria has some dangerous zones. These regions are volatile, and anything can happen within a split second. Any trip to the Northern region of Nigeria should be made by air and not by road because it is highly unsafe. Precautions should be implemented because they are the major areas attacked by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

3.  Keep a Low Profile

Basic safety precautions should be implemented before taking a trip down to Nigeria. They include putting on flashy and expensive jewelry and clothes at the slightest opportunity, avoiding high-risk zones, and holding little cash, and it is crucial to avoid showing off cash, wealth, and affluence in public and on social media.

4.  Don’t Look Like a Visitor

When you show up looking like a foreigner in a new place, you put yourself in danger, and people will take advantage of you.

Do everything within your capacity to blend in and avoid looking confused, and in case you need a description or information, it’s better to ask someone at a renowned store or business nearby instead of asking a random stranger on the streets.

Learn some popular terms to aid communication if it’s your first visit.

5.  Hire Security personnel if You Can Afford It.

Most influential people in Nigeria hire private security personnel to protect them from all forms of attack. If it is something you can afford, then go ahead and hire a private police escort that will do their best to keep you safe throughout your stay in Nigeria.

6.  Explore During The Day

The best time to visit places you are unfamiliar with is in broad daylight. For many travelers, the first point of call is the hotel room. The importance of getting there during the day to ensure that it is suitable cannot be over-emphasized.

Moving around alone at night is unsafe because most criminal activities that could lead to losing lives and properties are perpetrated at night.

7.  Let Someone Know Your Whereabouts

Inform your friends or coworkers of your whereabouts and give them adequate information about where you are. 

As a result, if anything goes wrong or there is cause for alarm, you are most likely to be rescued on time by security services because they can give adequate information about your location.

8.  Do Not Keep All Your Valuables in the Same Place

Losing your valuables, especially your wallet, in Nigeria can be frustrating. The whole situation can become awry if all your credit cards are in it. Although, the probability that you might lose your wallet is low. Having spare cash and backup credit cards in your hotel room is imperative.

9.  Beware of Travel Scams

Generally, Nigerians are fantastic people, but we can’t deny that there are bad eggs. For example, they quickly identify foreigners to trick them so they can gain some money.

Don’t think you are too smart to be conned; you are in a new environment, and it’s easier for people familiar with the environment to take advantage of foreigners. Try your best to blend into the general way of life.

10. Be Intuitive

It is imperative not to dismiss your gut feelings. If you ever feel unsafe or under attack, don’t try to silence the feeling.

The best thing to do is to leave that environment as soon as possible. You can move to a different location or go to a hotel room where you rest assured that there is safety.

Nigeria Travel Guide: 10 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the most fantastic countries to visit in Africa.  There are tons of memorable places to visit, but for safety purposes, there are things you are supposed to know to be safe and have the time of your life. Here are answers to major questions that arise whenever a trip to Nigeria is mentioned.

1.  Nigeria is safe

It is as safe as any other country around the world. The occasional attacks are aftereffects of any country with diverse tribal groups and religions.

In the United States, random shootings are within the same range as in Nigeria. This does not stop people from traveling to Miami, Florida, California, and other fun-loving places in the country. 

In Nigeria, only a few states have been attacked by terrorists, and other places are relatively safe. Nevertheless, the Nigerian military has been on its toes, trying to stop the effect of this terrorist group on the lives and properties of innocent citizens. 

It is a large country with 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory. The home of Nollywood and fantastic African music. Westerners can visit Nigeria without fear of kidnap or danger as long as they abide by basic safety precautions.

2.  Nigerians are warm, friendly, and kind.

You don’t have to worry if you are a white-skinned person, which makes it difficult for you to blend in when you are out in public places; you might catch a glimpse of people staring at you or calling you ‘oyinbo (foreigner).’ However, the term is often used politely and does not imply racism of any kind.

Nigerians are friendly and expressive; they might wave at you or say hi! Personal space is rare in public areas because people stand closely beside each other.

They are loud and highly dramatic, and their facial expressions and different gestures are used for communication. It is easy to think they are arguing or fighting when describing an event to someone else.

3.  The weather is hot

Nigeria is a fantastic option if you have always looked forward to having sunlight all through the year. It is hot and sunny most of the year; the weather conditions vary across all parts of the country. For example, Borno is hot compared to Jos, which is quite cold.

There is no winter in Nigeria, the weather is hot, and most people have to rely on air conditioners, fans, and other appliances to keep their environment cool.

During harmattan, there is a change in weather conditions caused by a slight drop in temperature. The season comes with a lot of dry wind and dust, and it is important to protect yourself with hats, sunscreens, nose covers, and sunglasses.

4.  Most people speak English.

It is important to note that most people in Nigeria speak English, so you have nothing to worry about regarding communication. However, a Nigerian variant of English is popularly known as pidgin English. This variant combines regular English with some local slang and languages.

It’s no news that English is the official language in Nigeria, and a large number of people living in Nigeria can speak English fluently alongside their local languages.

However, for the minority that can’t speak English properly, many of them understand but might not be able to communicate effectively in the English language.

Therefore, if you find yourself in a place where most people do not understand English, it would be safe to find an interpreter to make communication more effective.

5.  The country is chaotic.

There is no point getting all worked up; there are agencies that enforce law and order amid chaos. Some parts of the country are beautiful, and you might find it difficult to believe such beautiful places can exist in a country like Nigeria.

While some other areas have untarred roads that might not be motorbikes with simple buildings along the roads. The people live quietly and have a strong affinity for Agriculture. 

Poverty stricken areas in Nigeria

At first, it looks like the whole place is in disarray, but that is not how it is in the real sense. Many people have their power generating set due to the epileptic power supply; this makes it possible for them to generate their electricity and water, unlike Western countries where everything is centralized. 

The arbitrary police checkpoints, porous security, and epileptic power supply might look like a lot, but there’s no need to worry because there is a formula for survival. You can get a local to explain this formula, and you will get the hang of how things run here within the shortest possible time.

6.  Religion is a part and parcel of everyday life.

Nigeria is an inter-tribal country with three major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Traditional worship. Unfortunately, most people in the country have not learned how to separate religion from their normal activities. 

It is normal for you to encounter people praying before they start a meeting at workplaces or showing off their religious affiliations on car doors, home doors, and personal electrical appliances.

The country is well-decorated, with many religious buildings, including churches.

7.  Everything is a contradiction.

Within the same country, you will find wealthy and affluent people living life to the fullest by making money legitimately. Yet, within the same square mile, you will find people who can’t even afford a roof over their heads.

The gap between the rich and the poor is wide, increasing daily in Nigeria. Wealth, poverty, corruption, and religion exist without disruptions. While these things coexist harmoniously, the contradiction is obvious, and the bridge keeps getting wider by the day.

8.  Take your vaccines and regular medications.

When visiting a new country, this is a very crucial thing to do. Book a visit to the hospital and get yourself checked before the trip, be sure that you are in a good place medically. Nigeria is not suffering from any epidemic, so there is no need to worry.

But you must take extra care of yourself because residents living in a country become immune to most diseases that are prevalent in such areas.

You must avoid mosquitoes! Mosquitoes and insect repellents are must-haves; you can sleep under treated nets to prevent malaria.

There are malaria pills that you can take. I took them in the military every time we operated in locations, like Haiti and Panama.

9.  Public transportation might be a struggle.

There are wide options for public transport, but the systems could be more organized in the Western world. If adventurous, you can jump on a bus popularly known as ‘danfo’ or hail a shared taxi. For convenience and comfort, you can book a ride on Uber, Taxify, or Bolt and get a driver to pick you up.

10. Money

It is easy to go cashless in some cities; they accept payments with cards and other electronic means of payment. However, this is not advisable in smaller cities because of unreliable network services within those regions.

To be on the safe side, always walk around with some cash enough to meet your basic needs and not too much, so you don’t call attention to yourself. ATMs are available in most areas.

Final Thoughts

Nigeria is a safe country, but it is important to understand the rules to operate in this region to have a chaos-free trip. Once you’ve mastered all the tips and insights provided in this article, you can enjoy one of the most memorable trips of your life.

If you are worried, there are insurance policies that you can purchase for any location in the world for evacuation. There are insurance plans for tactical and medical extractions.

Just stick with the safety rules, and you will be just fine.

If you’ve ever traveled to Nigeria or you think we missed something, please leave a comment below to help us and other readers.

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