Notorious NIGERIA

If I could skip one country while traversing the West Coast of Africa, it would be Nigeria. Overlanders speak of Nigeria only in whispers, and they rarely have encouraging things to say. Big, fast, loud and more than a little unpredictable, Nigeria is not on many bucket lists. I have recently heard a few reports of attacks on the roads involving fake police roadblocks and spike strips. Speaking of police roadblocks, Nigeria is famous for theirs. In their number, their unfriendliness and in bribery, Nigeria apparently holds the record.

Skirting Nigeria by land is currently impossible, as it means driving North around Lake Chad through Niger, Chad and Northern Cameroon - all of which are seriously off-limits because of Boko Haram. If I am to traverse the West Coast of Africa, I must drive the width of Nigeria. It is as simple as that.

With safety the number one priority, I plan to drive as far as possible each day, and I will always stay in hotels. The hotels will preferably have high fences and armed guards. I also want to avoid lingering in the Niger Delta if possible - it’s the current kidnapping hotspot due to the ease in which a getaway can be made in the maze of swampy channels there.

So, the plan is set - and my Benin visa is expiring. I can delay no more.

It’s time to dive in.

Diving In

Nigeria’s currency is the Naira; and because of severe inflation, there is a thriving black market exchange-rate that is 50% better than the official one. After a lot of back-and-forward at the border, I exchange all my Central African Francs for around 300 000 Naira, in a huge stack of small, grubby bills.

Inside Nigerian Immigration, I meet three men, and it’s quickly clear that the largest is the boss - and he is not to be trifled with. His

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