By Rasheed Sobowale
Of the 1,095,299 international students studying in the United States, there are about 13,423 Nigerian students ― a figure representing 33 per cent of the total African students in the country; thus the leading source of students from the African continent.
The United States Embassy on its website also announced that the number of Nigerian students in its country increased by 5.8 per cent in the 2018/19 academic year,
Also, Vanguard earlier reported the result of a survey by Afrobarometer which revealed that “one in three Nigerians have considered emigration, most to find an economic opportunity”.
The United States of America is undoubtedly one of the places many Nigerians want to emigrate. Foreign investment into Nigeria rises by 34% to $8.5bn in Q1’19 according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
As much as we celebrate foreign investments and tries to woo citizens of countries like the United States to invest here, it appears Nigeria infrastructure and security problems is a deterring factor.
How the website of the US embassy in Nigeria portrayed the country (Nigeria) is disheartening and a call to duty for the Nigerian government.
Nigerian Health States
The US embassy confirmed Nigeria has well-trained health professionals but lacks good health facility; notably the absence of required medications in the health facilities.
On its website, the embassy noted; “Nigeria has a number of well-trained doctors, yet medical facilities are generally poor. Many medicines are unavailable, including medications for diabetes and hypertension.
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“Caution should be taken when purchasing medicines locally, as counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications. Hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
“Emergency services comparable to those in the United States or Europe are non-existent, and the blood supply is unreliable and unsafe for transfusion. For serious medical problems, you should consider travelling to the United States, Europe, or South Africa for treatment.
“U.S. citizens should dial 112 in case of an emergency. Emergency numbers may not be reliable.
“Ambulance services are not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas.
“Adequate health facilities are available in major cities, but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards; Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies; Private hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient; Generally, in public hospitals, only minimal staff are available overnight (in non-emergency wards).”
The embassy comments on Nigerian water is also nothing to write home about. It noted that; “No areas [in Nigeria] have safe tap water. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although; “You should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.”
Air pollution is also a significant problem identified by the embassy to be a major problem in several major cities in Nigeria.
Nigeria Road Conditions and Safety
“Roads are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions. There are few working traffic lights or stop signs, and few traffic control officers to manage traffic during power outages. The rainy season, generally from May to October, is especially dangerous because of flooded roads and water-concealed potholes.”
Nigerian drivers drive on the wrong side of the road
“Driving between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. should be done with extreme caution. Automobiles, trucks, or “okadas” (motorbikes) often drive on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks.”
Nigerian Traffic Control Officers Seek Bribes
“Traffic control officers may occasionally seek bribes when citing drivers for traffic violations. If stopped by traffic police, drivers should stop as instructed.”
The embassy also advised its citizens to avoid driving any traffic police to the police station.
“Do not pay any bribes. If requested to drive an officer to the police station, do not do so, especially at night as some traffic police are imposters.”
In spite of Nigeria being the largest producer of oil in Africa, the long queues at the filling stations did not go unnoticed by the embassy.
“Motorists seldom yield the right-of-way and give little consideration to pedestrians and cyclists. Chronic fuel shortages have led to long lines at service stations, which disrupt or block traffic for extended periods,” it stated on its website.
Avoid Public Transportation it is not safe
On its website, the embassy recommended avoiding public transportation throughout Nigeria.
“Public transportation vehicles, such as buses and motorbikes, are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speeds, and overcrowding.”
All of these are in addition to the serious warning the embassy issued to its citizens considering travelling to Nigeria.
On October 29, 2019, the embassy released a press statement advising its citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria.
“Reconsider travel to Nigeria due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and maritime crime, which includes kidnappings, hijackings, boardings, theft, etc. Some areas have increased risk.”
The embassy listed some states it also strongly advised against visiting if at all their citizens are in Nigeria.
“Do Not Travel to: Borno and Yobe States and Northern Adamawa State due to terrorism; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, and Yobe states due to kidnapping; Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, and maritime crime”
It summarized Nigeria’s security thus; “Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, and rape – is common throughout the country. Exercise extreme caution throughout the country due to the threat of indiscriminate violence.”