Business visitors should be appropriately dressed. Casual dress may convey a casual attitude, especially to European-trained Nigerians. Titles should be used, particularly the honorific titles of traditional leaders. Company representatives should be flexible in business dealings and able to make decisions on contractual matters without lengthy referral to their home offices. In Nigeria, important business is conducted face-to-face. No worthwhile transactions can be completed quickly or impersonally. Follow-up visits are common.
Business appointments preferably are made through personal calls, hand-delivered messages, or cell phone conversations or text messages, since the landline based telephone/fax system is unreliable and the mail is slow. Nigerians are not known for punctuality. Visitors should make their contacts well before departure from the United States. Important documents or correspondence should be sent via reputable courier, such as FEDEX, DHL or UPS, and show a Private Mail Bag (PMB) or Post Office Box (P.O. Box) as well as street address.
Nigerian currency is the Naira (N), which is divided into 100 kobo. Notes come in denominations of 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins exists but are seldom used.
Full international direct dialing is available. The country code for Nigeria is +234, and the outgoing international code is 009. City codes are also required. There are four major GSM mobile phone providers covering Nigeria. There are also a number of private telecommunication networks located in major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt Kaduna and Kano. Internet cafes also exist in major cities.
Taxi service is available in Lagos and most other urban areas, but cabs are not recommended, as they are old, often unreliable, and can be unsafe. If taxis are used, fares should be negotiated in advance, particularly to and from airports.
Cars with drivers are also available for hire through hotels and car rental agents, and use of those services is a highly recommended alternative to taxis. Congested airport facilities in Lagos often lead to long delays, and airline reservations may not be honored due to overbooking, especially on domestic flights. Domestic airline schedules are reasonably reliable, but sometimes can fuel substantial delays. Lack of aviation fuel can cause delays or result in cancellation of flights. Travelers on international flights should arrive at the airport at least three hours before scheduled departure. Air accidents in recent years have increased concern about maintenance standards on domestic airlines.
English is the official language of Nigeria, although it is a second language for many Nigerians who also speak one of several indigenous languages, such as Yoruba, Hausa and Ibo. Business travelers will find that most government officials and business people speak English well.
A number of infectious diseases are prevalent in Nigeria. Untreated water, ice and peeled fruits and raw vegetables should be avoided. Visitors can be turned back at the port of entry if their yellow fever immunization is not current. Regular use of malaria suppressants is strongly recommended. Vaccinations for cholera, typhoid, tetanus,meningitis and protection against hepatitis are also strongly suggested. Visitors should consult their physician or local health authorities about the current inoculations recommended and required before a visit to Nigeria.
Medical facilities are available in Nigeria, but in practice, foreign business visitors normally restrict themselves to private clinics, available in large urban areas. Many common household medicines and some prescription drugs are locally available, but the business traveler should carry an ample supply of any special medications required.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Local time is GMT +1. Business establishments and government offices generally open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with offices closed for lunch from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Many government offices and businesses hold staff meetings on Monday and Friday mornings, sometimes making it difficult to see people at those times. Holidays falling on Saturdays and Sundays are observed on Mondays. No permanent dates exist for Muslim holidays -- they are observed as announced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.