Places to visit in Lagos : IITA, Iabdan


I am not writing this new post on a very good note. I feel sorry for writing this after a long gap. I have few visitors who always motivate me with their comments to write something more on Nigeria. So this post is dedicated to those visitors.

While spending my time in Nigeria, I was going nuts sometimes while deciding places to visit during weekend or holidays. Before any holidays, there were series of consultations with family and friends on likely places to visit. Being expatriate, we have to ensure that place to be visited is at least secured and offers minimum amenities for a family. This become more important when you are an expatriate.

I try to present details of some of the interesting places I had visited during my stay in Lagos.  Today’s post is dedicated to a place in Ibadan and this place is known as IITA – International Institute of Tropical Agriculture at Ibadan – a place about 125 Kms north of Lagos.

IITA has been formed by group of African nations to address solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty in African continent. This research institute is situated in Ibadan on Ilorin highway, about 20 Kms out of city. To reach IITA, you have to take Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and travel about 125 Kms north of Lagos. Depending on traffic, it may take 2-3 hours to reach Ibadan city. But depending on city traffic, it may take another hour to reach IITA campus.

Entrance gate of IITA

When you will reach IITA, plus 1000 Acre campus will leave you spellbound with its lush green environment and clean surroundings. Staffs of IITA are very co-operative and you can get a decent accommodation, if you get your booking done before arriving at the campus.

A view of IITA campus

It is advisable that one should plan for at least two days stay in the campus. There is a forest covering 1/3rd part of the campus and it is a good delight for the lovers of botany and nature. Flora and fauna in the campus is difficult to describe here but I can say that it presents a rich preserve for birds and small creatures.

Scene of sunset near lake

For tourist, there is lake near to lake where you can go for fishing or bird watching. You can relish much more, if you decide to visit lake surrounding early in the morning. The morning calmness of the lake side is a life time experience here. Even the quietness of sunset with the only presence of chirping sound of birds and small creatures gives the feeling of another world.

A view of the lake near forest

I am presenting some more photographs of the campus here, which is, I’m sure will be a  delight for visitors. There is a golf course, tennis court, trekking, cycling, swimming and many more things to do. However, a trekking to forest is a guided tour and there is a guide present in the campus who will take you inside the forest in a group.

Another view of IITA campus

Here is another photograph which is an entrance to the forest – a dense forest during rainy season. I would suggest that you should visit IITA just after rainy season i.e. during August – October to experience greenery of plants and herbs.

Entrance to forest

And for sure, you can find some more time to inquire about various researches going on inside the campus. You may meet some agricultural scientist working on cassava,   Maize, palm, beans, yam and many other crops used by Africans. Foods of the campus restaurant are good in taste and many varieties from veg and non-veg menu are present to cater to the needs of visitors from various countries. You can have your favorite drink and snacks across the counter to make your evening eventful.

My friends enjoying lunch

And at last, you can view my photo here standing in the midst of green environment and posing for the photograph.

On a pathway at IITA campus

Travelling has always attracted me and I would say that IITA, Ibadan is a traveler’s delight in Nigeria specially when you do not have many options to visit around Lagos. Please do write me, if any of you plan to visit Lagos, I can provide more details and specific information on IITA.

LIVING IN NIGERIA Part III – A journal of time spent in Nigeria


About Robbery incidents and Security aspects for visiting Expatriates

While I am enjoying my stay in Nigeria, moreover in Lagos, there are always some concerns about security for the expatriates here. Time and again, Expatriates are being targeted by robbers either on the highway or at their home. These incidents increase manifold towards the year-end due to Christmas festival and the New Year. People with less means want more money during the festival season hence these robbery incidents increase. Most of the people and even local Nigerians usually take extra precautions and try to avoid unnecessary outings during late in the night and also to remote places.

Robbers of Nigeria target bus and car passengers, taxis, highway travelers waiting at bust stop, small market and even Banks and shop establishments. It is said that these robbers can target any place at their own will and even no security can stop them to attack their target. They dare to come from nowhere in a traffic jam and would point a gun at you and will force you to handover whatever you are having in person. It is always advisable to keep some “extra money” with you always for these robbers otherwise it would be equivalent to inviting them to attack you for no reason. It is said that most of the Companies are paying “Robbers Money” to their expatriate employees so that they can use money to safeguard themselves from these robbers.

I have a friend based in Europe and her job demands her to travel to various parts of Africa. She had been to South Africa several times and she was telling me that Nigeria is much better place than South Africa in terms of safety from highway robbers. In South Africa, 9 out of 10 times, the robbers kill the target after looting them, while in Nigeria; you are having very good chance to survive in 9 out of 10 cases. From the various robbery incidents report that I come across, I find the statement of my friend very realistic. Everyone here says that if you do not argue with them and handover cash and valuable items, they will simply go without harming you or making any noise.

The recent incidents of murder of Anni Dewani in Cape Town, only substantiate above view. The Dewani couple did the mistake of coming out in the night without any escorts and ventured to those areas where expatriates are always advised to resist visiting. A more cautious approach would have prevented this horrific incident in which a life was cut short by scoundrels. While my condolences are for her husband Shrien Dewani, this can be a good lesson for all those who try to find adventures in a simple life.

In most of the pockets of Nigeria, these incidents of robbery are very common. Even a poor man can be a target of his belongings and cash. My driver and house help had become target in the past.  If the expatriates are travelling via road, they are expected to always carry good amount of cash to meet the demand of these robbers. No particular highways are singled out as a target by these robbers. Hence one cannot be sure to be safe on any day.

A lot has been talked about the Nigerian police and their inaction to prevent these robberies. It is said that even Nigerian police can become a robber in the night and use their gun to target passengers. In most of the cases, these are fake policemen. Also, it is said that if Nigerian police are around the place of robbery incidents, they are the first to run away from the spot after removing their uniform. Whatever being said on police inaction, it is true that post incidents, hardly anybody reports the matter to police in Nigeria. It is said that in most of the cases, the police harass the victim even more than the robbers.

So, if you happen to be in Nigeria, my personal advice is that you should always take extra precautions for your own safety. Unnecessary outing and travelling to remote areas in the Night should always be avoided.

Lots of Love

LIVING IN NIGERIA Part II – A journal of time spent in Nigeria


About Nigeria Transport System and related Problems

One of the most discussed problems of Nigeria is its transportation system. Almost all the surface transport is dependent on road. Frequent traffic jam and road rage is very common here. Most of the vehicle drivers are not following traffic rules that lead to most of the traffic rules. If you stay far from your office and you want to reach your home before a particular time, then 9 out of 10 times chances are that you cannot reach on time. This situation I am particularly talking about Lagos. However, my friends from most of the other cities of Nigeria also talks about same situation of Traffic.

Traffic jam is called “Go Slow” in Nigeria. There are certain precautions to be taken while you are caught in a “Go Slow”. These are more on a safety point of view. If it is dark, robbers may target you on a certain street. They can come from nowhere and they will put gun on you from the window glass.  Now how to save your life that totally depends on you and your presence of mind. Do not make any noise, just open glass slightly and handover cash, mobile and watches etc to the robber. As long as you do not make any protest chances are that 9 out of 10 times they will not fire on you. Never try to do any trick with these men because they do not think twice before pulling triggers. Your life is more important than any valuables with you. Remember, you should always carry some good amount of local currencies with you to satisfy these robbers. Robbers always expect that Expatriates (generally it is foreigners with white skin) are always carrying a good amount of cash with them and if someone is not handing over him cash that means the person do not want to let loose his wallet. THIS COULD BE A LIFE THREATENING TO YOU!

Another biggest problem experienced even by the local Nigerians is the presence of large numbers of street hawkers. Street selling is illegal in Nigeria but you will find these sellers on almost all the major streets of Nigeria. These hawkers sell anything from food items to music CDs, watches, slippers, newspapers, magazines, books etc. They take the advantage of “Go Slow” nature of traffic of Nigeria and make a good business from the commuters. To sell a small item of as low as 100 Naira, they can sprint with you to match the car speed. From the efforts of these hawkers, they seem to be very laborious to earn a livelihood from street selling. But some of these hawkers turn into robbers after the dusk. Foreigners with white skins are advisable to desist themselves from buying anything from these hawkers. There is a separate cell in the Government machinery who deals with these street hawkers. Sometimes we see them active and they try to arrest these hawkers for illegal selling. But this is hardly effective.

To make the things worst, the traffic police personnel of the state government can be termed as most corrupt staff of the Government. These staffs always try to collect some money from the car occupant for the unreasonable offences. Like, I have been stopped by these policemen to tell me that I have crossed the stop line. But when I argued that there is no stop line marked on the road, they had started demanding money from me. They threatened to capture the car and take me to police station for paying a fine. Best way is to save your time and pay some money to them. You can start bargaining for the money to be paid to them from N500-2000.

There are several other safety measures to be taken at the time of city commutation. More on this, I will write soon for the benefit of you all.

Cheers !

LIVING IN NIGERIA Part I – A journal of time spent in Nigeria


In 2008, I was working for a Bank at Mumbai in Credit card dept. It was one of the Saturdays of November, 2008 when I received a call from a Manpower consultant who was never known to me before. He wanted me to send my latest CV to him on urgent basis for an immediate opening in Nigeria. Not thinking much on this offer, I just forwarded my CV to him on the same day.

To my surprise, I received a call on the same day evening requesting me to appear for a personal interview on the very next day. Earlier also, I was getting similar type of calls for African countries’ openings and I was not taking these calls seriously. This may be due to the reason that the image of African nations is not very good in India for an ideal overseas job destination. But I decided to appear for the interview as I was seriously looking for a change from my current job.

Next day I appeared for the interview at one of the five-star hotels of Mumbai.  I met two gentlemen waiting for me – One African and another Indian. The sight of an Indian among the interviewers gave me a sigh of genuine relief.

Anyway, interview started in the open lobby area of the hotel and it did last for about 15 minutes. The complete interview was very simple and from any angle, I did not find any sign that they are not genuine person from the Bank for which they wanted me torecruit. The Indian gentleman tried his best to convince me that the selection is a genuine selection and the country is worth to give a try for job. They asked me about my salary expectations and time required to join the service – which I replied to them accordingly. I exchanged greetings and paid my sincere thanks to both the people before coming back to home.

After two days of this interview, I again received a call from the consultant confirming my selection for the job and an offer letter will be soon dispatched to me. At this point, I had decided that I have to take this offer seriously. I thought…if the offer is genuine, then I should accept it and give it a try.

Once I made up my mind, I started collecting all sorts of details of this country – its people, culture, life, safety, cost of living, communication system, social structure, food habit, transportation system and all those details one can think of.  And for me, Internet was the only medium.  I also tried to find out about the employer, its address, number of branches, Board of Directors, top executives etc. But to my dismay, I could hardly stumble upon any information that would have been vital for me to make a quick decision.  This was most frustrating. The only details I came to know was that in spite of having some concern on safety issues in the country, there is large number of Indians working in Nigeria and Lagos is considered to be safer place than other parts of the country.

So, with this unclassified information, I was very much uncertain to take a final decision on my offer. Fortunately, I came to know from my contacts that one of my friends is already working in Nigeria. Somehow, I was able to make a contact with him and with his help collected all the information of the country, and the Bank. I am very much thankful to him that because of all his classified details, I was able to decide to give a try to this offer.

More on this you will see next time with this blog very soon.

Cheers !

Ajay

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