Well, as a Nigerian who also lives in the capital of the country, I believe I am qualified to talk about this topic. While there could be a lot of articles online, usually written by foreigners, I believe the voice of a Nigerian is perhaps what needs to be heard.
I have lived overseas myself for 5 years. I also mingle with some of the ex-pat communities in Abuja, and I ask them if they feel safe in Nigeria.
The one thing you need to keep in mind is that different parts of the country have different crimes prevalent there. So, it would be a very big misconception to paint the entire country with the same brush.
Here are some reasons why Nigeria could be considered “dangerous”
This is a crime in some parts of Nigeria, and to be specific, this used to be a big deal about 2 to 3 years ago, but it has faded within the last two years. From my assessment, I would say a couple of states within the Southeast are where this is happening. I will put these states as Imo and Anambra, and even this is not what is applicable across the entire state.
The thing is that the Nigerian police have significantly improved their use of telecommunications technology to track criminals. The police can use just your cellphone number to accurately track your position, I know this firsthand when someone I knew went missing (that wasn’t a case of kidnapping) by the way.
For you as a foreigner, it is almost unheard of that a foreigner is kidnapped (for money). So you should feel absolutely safe here in Nigeria.
There was a time when Boko haram terrorists were occupying some local governments in the northeastern parts of the country, specifically Borno state.
In the buildup to the 2015 election, the then-president had to postpone the election in order to sweep the terrorists so they can be able to have elections in those areas. This means that the issue of terrorism is a big deal.
But the current administration of President Buhari, although slow to start, has stepped up efforts to reduce cases of terrorism. He recently sacked the entire head of military arms and also obtained 12 Super Tucano jets from the USA, and these jets have really helped the war effort.
But the question is, should you be worried about terrorism in Nigeria? The answer is, it depends on where you want to go. Southwestern Nigeria has never witnessed any acts of terrorism, and this goes for all parts of the country except the Northeast. I would be only concerned about Borno State. But even Borno has now seen massive improvements in things, children now have great schools and life is pretty much back to normal in that state. That used to be the number one most terrorized state in Nigeria.
Well, I don’t live in all parts of the country so I can only tell you what I know. In Abuja where I live, forget it, you can’t carry out a successful bank robbery in Abuja. The city is airtight. Incidences of robbery are quite minimal in the capital, and by extension, incidences of robbery reduces drastically as you move further into northern Nigeria. The cost of living is very very cheap there and people just don’t tend to come up with criminal behaviours once they can feed well as the north produces more of the food.
Another state is lagos which used to be notorious for all kinds of stealing and robbery but is now getting a proper clean up. If I was in lagos, I would be concerned about traffic robbers at night, but even that is on the decline. In the last one year in Lagos, a city of over 21 million, the state recorded 21 armed robberies, and they foiled about 150 attempts. Even though I would not trust these figures, what I can tell you for a fact is that lots of efforts are being made to make things better.
In the south east though, there are incidences of robberies higher than other parts of the country. And this is linked to the next point.
4. Civil unrest
Nigeria is a complex and complicated amalgamation of regions by the British. And these regions have a different way of life and certainly did not wish to be joined together, but here we are. Nigeria can be divided into 3 different areas. There is the north, where the major language is Hausa. There is the southwest where the major language is Yoruba and there is the Southeast where the major language is Igbo.
Because oil is in the south, the oil-producing states often say their money is being used to run the country even though the government gives them the biggest amount of the shares. The North is the food basket of the country, we will all go hungry without them.
The biggest unrest that Nigeria once had was with the Nigerian civil war that took place in the 60s shortly after Nigeria gained its independence. Millions were killed as the southeast tried to form their own country.
The unrest in the east still continues to this very moment, and militia groups have sprung up and are carrying out some serious crimes under the guise that they need their own country.
This is an issue that has sort of come up as a bye product of the terrorism in Nigeria. Bandits once attacked a train in Nigeria and kidnapped people. All of the people were eventually released, and train services have reduced amid tighter security in terms of identification and helicopter patrol.
Well, one article can never cover this topic and I would have written this article based on my experience, and other people will have a slightly different perspective.
However, what I can tell you for a fact is that if you just watch TVs and read foreign news articles, you would believe that Nigeria is one war zone, but this is not the case. The country is going through challenges, but I assure you that Nigeria always wins.
- John Aina Ajibola has a Masters degree as an engineer and has over 3 years of teaching and research experience. He is happiest when on a bike and is also interested in electric energy and computer Science.