My Trip To Nigeria During A Pandemic

top view of houses and building roofs

In September 2021, I went to Nigeria for a wedding and all in all; it was an enjoyable experience. The last time I visited Nigeria was in 2015, and things were quite different then. For the most part, I did enjoy my trip, but some things were not so pleasant.

The Flight

Right from the flight, I was feeling very agitated when one uncle like that brought an egg on the plane to eat. Of course, the egg was smelly, and people around were complaining. But, there was going to be food anyway, and the man had no sense of self-awareness. So, he continued eating, and the smell lingered in the recycled air for quite a while. Sigh!

Arriving In Nigeria

Before going to Nigeria, I had to fill out an arrival form, declare where I would be staying in Nigeria, and book a day 7 COVID-19 test (over £100). All of this was completed via the Nigeria International Travel Portal Website. Then, they emailed me a receipt and barcode, which I had to show when checking in for my flight to Nigeria.  

However, upon arriving in Nigeria, I still had to wait in line for almost an hour for Immigration officials. They manually checked that we had paid for our day 7 COVID-19 test. I then had to fill out the information regarding where I would be staying.

There was no machine to scan our barcodes even though there were computers at every checkpoint. It doesn’t make sense to do things manually – I honestly don’t know why things must be that complicated.

Money collectors

After standing for over 2 hours at Immigration, I was physically exhausted. One of the airport workers noticed, and she grabbed my bag from me. I told her I didn’t need her help, but she insisted on taking it. When we reached the person who was picking me up, she asked for money. For simply doing a job I didn’t ask her for, she collected some money.

As if that wasn’t enough, she complained that she was expecting me to give her money in pounds. I shook my head at the sense of entitlement she had as she boldly exclaimed that the naira wouldn’t do much for her.

Unfortunately, this is just a regular occurrence. These workers are underpaid so they use ‘bribes’ and ‘extra tips’ to get by. It is not right that travellers are harassed for money when they just simply want to travel to their home country.

This was not the first time one of the airport had asked me for money. The man who checked my passport flashed me an eager look of desperation that tugged at my heartstrings then proceeding to ask, ‘anything for me?’ I didn’t give anything to him but I know he had probably collected some money from other people that same day.

The Food

My favourite Nigerian dish is Jollof rice and chicken and I was able to eat this almost every single day when I was in Nigeria. I also enjoyed the most amazing stew that my aunty made for me when I stayed with her in Ifo.

Family and friends

The best thing about being in Nigeria was, meeting up with friends and family members I hadn’t seen in years. I will forever be grateful for the amazing cousin who drove me around Ogun state.

Abeokuta

Abeokuta is my mother’s hometown and I love visiting to see the places she grew up in. It makes me feel close to her. I remember the stories she told me of her hometown and seeing it live and direct does something wonderful to my spirit.

ABEOKUTA WAS FOUNDED in 1830 after the intertribal wars ravaged refugees in Egba forest from their original homes between 1817 and 1830. The name of the town “ABEOKUTA” was derived from the protection which the fleeing settlers sought under the Olumo Rock, now a tourist center in the town. Abeokuta means ‘the refugees under a rock’, signifying the protection which the Olumo Rock offered the refugees from possible attacks.

Egbaprogressive.org
Driving into Abeokuta

If I ever want to find myself. I will definitely head to Abeokuta. It’s a beautiful town. You’ll certainly enjoy it.

More Things That Annoyed Me

On one of my trips to Lagos, my cousin parked his car outside a house for a few hours; and by the time he had returned, someone had deflated the front tyres. Later I was informed that this sort of thing happens a lot in Lagos.

COVID-19 has changed travel to Nigeria. In addition to the long waiting times at the airport, you can’t even go into the airport with loved ones. Only people travelling will be allowed in the airport. This is why they checked our boarding pass and passport to before they even let us enter the airport building.

After another long check-in process, our hand luggage was ransacked upon reaching the boarding gates. The checking of hand luggage should have been done at the security gates. I didn’t understand why these extra checks were nessesary.

Final thoughts

Nigeria has changed a lot and the pandemic has made things worse especially in Lagos. Travelling in and out of Nigeria is a stressful experience, it wasn’t this way before COVID-19. I hope things change soon.

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