Focus: Destination Nigeria

(Photo: Getty Images)

In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Nigeria. Know all about the country.

Capital: Abuja, Currency: Nigerian Naira, Ethnic groups: Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the most populous and politically influential are: Hausa and the Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%, Languages: English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, over 500 additional indigenous languages, Religions: Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%

FOOD AND DRINK

Lagos, Abuja and other major cities have a big selection of restaurants, serving everything from traditional Nigerian dishes to French baguettes, excellent sushi and good hamburgers. In the north, meat is more popular than in other areas, although it’s important to note that pork is forbidden in devout Muslim areas such as Kano.

Some of the specialities are Yam, Sweet potatoes, Suya (dried barbecued liver and beef on sticks), Fufu or sakora (a doughy, starchy dish made from sticky cassava or plantain, used like bread to scoop up soups and sauces), Dodo (delicious, fried, caramelised plantain slices), Boli and epa (baked plantains served with peanuts) and kilishi (spiced dried meat).In the east, egussi soup, in the south, goat meat and bush meat (particularly antelope) are considered a delicacy. Cassava (Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava), and cassava stews and dishes are popular.

Weather and climate

The southern coast is hot and humid with a rainy season from March to November. During the dry season, the Harmattan wind blows from the Sahara. The north’s rainy season is from July to September. Nights can be cold in December and January.

Indian presence

The Indian community in Nigeria is estimated to be about 35,000 persons ~ about 25,000 Indian nationals and about 10,000 Persons of Indian Origin holding other nationalities. A generation of Nigerians today in their 40s to 60s have been taught by Indian teachers, treated by Indian doctors and have grown watching Indian movies and Indians and India in Nigeria enjoy goodwill and respect in Nigeria.

Secular celebrations

Nigeria observes three secular national holidays and several officially recognised Muslim and Christian holidays when government, commerce, and banks are closed. The secular holidays are New Year’s Day (1 January), Workers’ Day (1 May), and National Day (1 October).

The Christian holidays are Christmas (25 December), Good Friday, and Easter Monday. The Muslim holidays are Eid al-Fitr (the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting), Tabaski, and Eid al-Moulid. Aside from Christmas, the religious holidays fall on different days each year.

Commercial relations

India is the largest trading partner of Nigeria and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. Indian owned/operated companies are the second largest employer in Nigeria after the Federal Republic of Nigeria. India’s imports from Nigeria include a large part of crude and petroleum products.

India is the largest importer of Nigeria petroleum products. In recent years, Nigeria has been one of the main sources of crude for India. Nigeria is highly important for India’s energy security matters as it imports around 12% of crude requirements from Nigeria. Over a hundred companies are currently operating in Nigeria that are owned and/or operated by Indian or PIOs. Prominent among

them are” Bharti Airtel, Indorama, Olam International (now Singapore registered), Tata, Bajaj Auto, Birla Group, Kirloskar, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, NIIT, Aptech, New India Assurance, Bhushan Steel, KEC, Skipper Nigeria, Dabur, Godrej and Primus Super-speciality Hospital besides 15 prominent companies in Nigerian Power Sector.

Nigeria’s pharmaceuticals, steel and power transmission sectors are dominated by Indian companies. Nigeria-based ethnic Indians are economically active in areas relating to consumer goods manufacturing and retailing, construction and air-services.

Visa: For tourist Visa documents required are Passport valid for at least six months, completed visa application form, 2 recent passport size photographs, A Letter of Invitation from a company/host in Nigeria accepting immigration responsibility, Visitors/Tourists are required to show evidence of sufficient funds, Nigeria Immigration Service Visa Payment Receipt and Visa Acknowledgement Receipt. Its validity is upto 3 months with single entry.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Lagos: Lagos is a major metropolis in the country and is fast becoming a megacity as elegant structures and buildings continue to spring up daily. Lagos is without a doubt the most industrialised state in Nigeria. From an aerial view, the coastline makes Lagos a ravishing beauty. Major attractions are Victoria Islands (main business and financial center of Lagos), Lekki Market, Lekki Conservation Cente, Eleko Beach, Tarkwa Bay Beach and Nigerian National Museum

Abuja: A world-class capital state with a grand master plan of its outlook, is a beautiful Nigerian city to visit or live in. The nation’s seat of power considered a highly business destination is an affordable place for all. The city is the haven for luxury real estates in Nigeria. Highlights of the city are National Church of Nigeria, Aso Rock and Zuma Rock (large monolith which is located in Niger State, Nigeria. It is sometimes referred to as “Gateway to Abuja”).

Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi State: Get ready to experience nature in the country’s biggest wildlife retreat. Marvel at the largest herd of elephants in the country, embark on a guided safari tour and explore the tropical forests. At the Reserve, one will find different varieties of animal species including the olive baboon, patas monkey, roan antelope, western hartebeest, living in their natural habitats. After your day at the reserve, exploring the marvel of wildlife, head over to the Wikki Warm Spring. Your visit to the Yankari Game Reserve is incomplete if you don’t experience the warmth of this spring.
Other attractions include Dala Hill and Kano City Walls (Kano state), Oguta Lake (one of the largest natural lake in Lmo State. Uhamiri is considered to be the goodness of the Oguta lake), Kunta Kinteh Island (Gambia), Olumo Rock, Kajuru Castle, Obudu Mountain Resort and Osun Sacred Grove (UNESCO world heritage site).

Compiled by Kunal Jain (kunaljain@thestatesman.com)

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