Nigeria is one of the most important countries on the African continent. This culturally rich country is a mix of over 250 different peoples with over 400 different languages. For tourists, Nigeria offers a uniquely diverse cultural experience, as well as plenty of historical sites, urban centers, natural wilderness, and the real experience of life in West Africa.
Nigeria continues to receive a very high number of visitors from all over the world, despite its numerous challenges. However, many tourists are starting to ask questions about their safety in Nigeria; many people wonder whether Nigeria is safe for white tourists. In this article, we will address your valid security concerns about travelling to Nigeria objectively, without any bias or coercion. We realize that tourism should not be at the expense of safety and security.
Is Nigeria Safe For White Tourists?
There are many white people in Nigeria, but the rising spate of insecurity in the country cannot be ignored. Apparently, most of the white people travelling into Nigeria are doing so for business and investment purposes, rather than tourism. Yes, the country has plenty of economic potentials, and the population of over 200 million makes it a great market for consumer items especially fast-moving consumer goods.
There are communities of Americans, British, Dutch, Indians, Lebanese, and many other nationalities living and working in Nigeria. Many of them go about their normal businesses during the day and enjoy the nightlife at night.
Nigeria is culturally and socially diverse. There is a world of difference between what is obtainable in Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. For example; the vast majority of white tourists and visitors can be found in Southern Nigeria. Cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Asaba, and Ogun have many white people living and working within their borders. They go about their daily activities without any problems. However, the northern part of the country is so insecure that in some the indigenes themselves have been forced to flee.
The American government recently released a document in which it advised citizens about the security situation in the country. Let us now summarize the view of the American government.
US Government List of States To Avoid in Nigeria:
Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa state – Do Not Travel
The US government warns that the security situation in these states is fluid and unpredictable due to widespread terrorist activity. US citizens are therefore warned to avoid those areas because violence may occur in the form of terrorist attacks, inter-communal violence, or kidnapping. Furthermore, security operations to counter these threats may occur without warning, therefore catching civilians in the crossfire.
The Terrorists have been known to attack humanitarian camps, security forces, churches, schools, government installations, entertainment venues, and road travelers. As a result of the activities of these terrorists, approximately two million Nigerians have been displaced from their homes as they have had to flee the violence in Northeast Nigeria.
Bauchi, Katsina, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, and Zamfara states – Do Not Travel
The above states have a very fluid security situation, and they remain unpredictable. Violence in those areas can come in the form of inter-communal violence which is very rampant, as well as armed criminality, especially kidnapping and roadside banditry. Furthermore, security operations to fight these problems can happen without any notice, and civilians can get caught in the crossfire.
What Will You Find In Southern Nigeria?
In southern Nigeria, you will find a completely different scenario; the people are friendly and welcoming. You will enjoy the laughter and friendship of the Nigerian people as they will call you Oyinbo when you walk by. That is a word for a light-skinned person, and it is used to address Nigerians that have such traits as well. Please do not confuse the word for abuse.
Many white people who visit Nigeria actually enjoy going to the local markets where they can interact with the locals as well as get the real taste of the Nigerian experience. You can buy fresh foods, vegetables, and fruits; different from the processed foods that you are used to in America. You can also buy souvenirs from your time in Nigeria.
Precautions to Take
There are crimes in Nigeria just as there are crimes in America or any other country. Therefore, if you choose to visit Nigeria, please contact a travel guide who will take you around the country. Please ensure that you stay in a 4 or 5-star hotel, as they always have their own additional security.
If you decide to live in Nigeria, please ensure that you choose a secure and gated community. Those are the safest places, with their own security guards, and regular patrols of the Nigeria police. It is not uncommon to have armed policemen escort high-profile Nigerians and foreign citizens. You can also move with a group consisting of your friends and workmates, and then have the armed guards escort you all together in groups.
You may encounter some petty crime; purse jacking and pick-pocketing, but these vices can be found in almost all societies.
Public Health and Safety Concerns
There are several good private hospitals in Nigeria, and they are scattered all over the southern part of the country. If you have any underlying health issues please find a good hospital and explain to the doctors so that you can get regular check-ups and treatment when necessary. Nigeria also has a decent public healthcare system; the covid 19 vaccines are currently been administered, and other vaccines before that such as polio, yellow fever, and so on, have been successfully circulated around the population.
Caution with Nigerian food
Please note that Nigerian food is usually spicy. If you are allergic or not accustomed to spicy hot food, please make it known to the restaurateur, or to anyone who is serving you the food. Also please carry any medications for allergies that may help you overcome the effects of spicy food or any other allergies that you may suffer.
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Aside from the no-go areas of the north, the country plays host to communities of Americans, Dutch, Indians, Chinese, Lebanese, and many other nationalities. Keep in mind that the country is not as organized as Europe and America; security, healthcare, traffic, and many other areas of the country are lagging behind, but socially, and culturally you are going to enjoy the experience.