Happy Independence Day Nigeria!

I have taken a hiatus from my blog because of the busyness of work. We are not only at the end of the quarter, but the end of the fiscal year. So there are reports that have to be written and documents that need to be approved. I am still under a mountain of documents but wanted to take this time to reconnect with my blog.

Today is Nigerian Independence Day! Nigeria is celebrating 56 years since it declared independence from the British Empire. It has been quite an education lesson for me as I have lived in Nigeria for the past 30 months. For the casual observer, Nigeria seems as though it is always in a state of chaos. However, deeper inspection reveals a very complicated country with nearly two hundred million people representing hundreds of tribes and speaking over 500 languages. Nigeria is also a country of stark contrast.  Herdsmen walk cattle down the main freeways of the capital city of Abuja (often times in full view of the guest playing top dollar in the Transcorp Hilton) and Ferrari and Rolls Royce cars stroll the plush neighborhoods of Maitama and Wuse II. It is often said that one in every seven Africans is a Nigerian. The Nigerian influence can be seen all over the African continent and all over the word.

Nigeria’s 56th year of Independence finds the country in a woeful state. Now, that may seem like a tough word to use to describe the land of green and white, but since my arrival in Spring 2014, the value of the Naira (the currency of Nigeria) has plummeted from 167 Naira to the dollar to 312 Naira to the dollar on the official exchange. That is nearly a 100% depreciation of the country’s currency. Prices of local goods have soared and domestic airlines have struggled to continue flying because of their inability to get dollars. Foreign carriers like Emirates and South African have decreased the number of flights into Nigeria and reorganized flight patterns to ensure they have access to jet fuel. The economy is struggling to rebound because of its connection to the cost of a barrel of oil, Nigeria’s main source of income. Corruption has also had a significant impact on the state of the economy with government leaders pillaging the coffers of the government to fund their lavish lifestyles.

Nigeria is a fascinating place but doesn’t offer much to tourist. While there is a lot to see in Nigeria, including beautiful landscapes, cultural festivals and varying wildlife (not like East Africa), the country has not tried to develop a tourist cultural that is inviting and welcoming to foreigners. Unlike its West African neighbors, Ghana and Senegal, Nigeria has not gone out of its way to mark its connection to the slave trade or developed its beaches in the south. A few weeks ago, Sheila and I were thinking about escaping to Lagos for the weekend. We searched tirelessly for a beach hotel…only to read numerous reviews of disappointed visitors.

As travel writers often say, Nigeria is “Africa for the very experienced.”

Happy Independence Day Nigeria!

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