Nigeria

Sitting on crocodile in Lagos art gallery

In Nigeria, About 210 million people live here and the capital is Abuja. The official language in Nigeria is English and the country is split between two religions, with a mostly Muslim population living in the north and a mostly Christian population living in the south. The top exports are crude petroleum, petroleum gas, refined petroleum, cocoa beans, and rough wood.  

Before traveling to Nigeria, it is important to be very aware of the travel risks there. I would strongly recommend against crossing the land borders anywhere in Nigeria. I investigated this when my flight to Nigeria was cancelled and locals in Benin strongly recommended I not try it. The U.S. Department of State recommends that all U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, and Yobe states due to bad security and transportation infrastructure. Travel should also be avoided in Bayelsa, Delta, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara states due to the threat of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks. In the River Delta in particular, conflict over oil companies in the area has resulted in armed kidnappings and attacks by a large militant group called MEND (the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta). In the northeast, an extremist group known as Boko Haram is known to target several different public sites such as churches, schools, governmental buildings, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe. The Islamic State West Africa is also present in Nigeria and may attack major population centers where there are more westerners. Finally, travel in the Gulf of Guinea should be avoided due to piracy.

For those who do travel in Nigeria, art-lovers will enjoy the free to enter Nike Art Museum in Lagos, which has several beautiful art projects, both modern and traditional, to discover before having a cup of coffee afterwards at the nearby coffee shop. Another great place to visit is the Cathedral Church of Christ for its architectural beauty and inherent peacefulness in the bustling city. Two other incredibly beautiful mosques can be found in Abuja called the Abuja National Mosque and the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which are a must-see for their stunning architectural designs.

An especially notable place to see, although in passing, is the incredibly large monolith called Zuma Rock on the outskirts of Abuja. The rock is so unique in shape and size that it seems almost unreal as a nature-made creation when contrasted with the nearby city. Zuma Rock is shown on the 100 naira note, the Nigerian currency, and it is said to be haunted by spirits.

In 2017, I flew from Togo to Nigeria. Flight was late and I was a little spooked by all of the terrorism and muggings made me a bit nervous. After arriving, I interrogated my guide to ensure he was the proper person to pick me up. Based on the reports in Trip Adviser, I expected to get mugged while driving to the airport, but no one as interested in me. After a rest at the Intercontinental , I ventured out to explore Lagos.  We went by an area they propose to build a Dubai-like tech hub on the island.

We drove around a few markets and toured around the downtown commercial district. You’re safe if you stay with these “boundaries” but I wouldn’t risk anything outside.

 

Downtown Lagos
Downtown Lagos skyline

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