Sunday, 7 August 2011

Nigeria at a Glance

Physical Features
Lying 100 north of the Equator and 80 East of the Greenwich Meridian, Nigeria is located on the west coast of Africa. Nigeria is variety personalized-her people, cultures, vast land and water mass, human and natural resources, belief systems and often vividly her political evolution-reflecting a nation of different shades.

Nigerian clocks are set at Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one hour. Nigeria is bordered at the south by the Bights, Benin and Bonny and the Atlantic Ocean. Her neighbours in the North, East and West are Niger, Republic of Cameroon and Republic of Benin, respectively. They maintain responsible relationships with her.

Nigeria has two distinct seasons – the dry and the rainy season. The dry season runs from November to March while the rainy season runs from April to October. Being the Tropics (Tropic of Capricorn) the rains are understandably heavy. In the North of Nigeria, the dry season is longer. The landscape runs from equatorial rain belt in the south to arid desert in the north. Most visitors prefer visiting during the dry season.

Nigeria is richly endowed in mineral resources which include crude oil, coal, limestone, tin, iron ore, gold, bitumen, and bauxite. She also has a rich supply of timber, cocoa, palm produce, corn, rice, beans, cassava, groundnuts, soya bean and edible salt as well as cash crops. Her population is put at about 150 Million (2010), making here the most populous black country in the world.

Nigeria is the world’s sixth largest producer of crude oil which makes her a prominent member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA). There has been a concerted effort to exploit the country’s natural gas resources, an initiative being driven by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (Nigerian LNG Limited).

Her rich cultural and artistic values are another significant quality of the country. Her people are industrious and hospitable, with most of the population running small scale commercial activities in urban and rural settings. Nigeria has rich cultural antecedents. These cover sculpting (including the Nok culture), painting, poetry, drama and music. There is unassailable evidence that people in the Nok era were very knowledgeable about iron smelting. There are also the terra-cotta sculptures and Igbo-Ukwu castings which date back to many centuries. This is in the form of works such as the Nok Terra-cottas and Igbo-Ukwu castings of an area suffused in rich culture for many centuries.

Political Structure

Known today as Nigeria, (culled from Niger area) this did not come about until 1914 when the protectorates of northern and southern Nigeria were amalgamated. Today, Nigeria operates a federal system of government with 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory as Abuja. Nigeria obtained her independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960. In October 1963, she became a Republic. At that time, there were three regions i.e. the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions. In 1964, a fourth, Mid-Western Region was added. A twelve-states political structure came into being in 1967, at the Civil War (1967-1970), and was increased to nineteen states in 1976, the same year the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja was created. Then in 1987, this was further increased to twenty-one states and in 1991, thirty-six. The present 36 states structure came into being in 1995. The thirty-six states of the federation fall under six political zones viz. North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West and South South zone. There are 774 (2010) local government areas in the country.

One of the prominent features of Nigeria’s political experience has been the dominance of the military in the management of the country. However, since May 29, 1999, the country has been operating a Democratic System of Government.

Visitors’ Information

Nigeria has a network of air, waterway, land and rail routes all attracting increasing levels of traffic in persons and cargo. Prospecting visitors will benefit from contacting any of the numerous travel agencies for practical advice on the best means of accessing different sections of the country. There are also a number of good hotels that can render this service and also provide reliable hospitality services. The country’s currency is the Naira and Kobo (N:K), with one hundred kobo equaling One Naira. The Central Bank of Nigeria is responsible for issuing currency notes and coins; and there are 25 banks which offer a wide spectrum of services including international money transfer.

Nigeria’s numerous ethnic groups speak several distinct and related languages, its lingua franca is English. It may also be useful to contact the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation or the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies.

Today, aside from the Federal and State owned radio and television stations and newspapers, there are a good number of privately owned, ultra-modern radio and television stations, some of which have satellite services, linking Nigeria to the international media. There is also a rich pick of privately owned newspapers, magazines and professional journals published on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Most of these publications utilize the latest technology in their operations. There are also a number of companies, Nigerian Telecommunication included, offering telecommunication services for local and international purposes. The scope of operations of the organization in this sector is expected to increase with time.

Visitors are expected to arrive in the country only after obtaining a valid visa for the duration and purpose of their visit (only citizens of the Economic Community of West African States are exempted).

Visas are usually issued within 72 hours of the request. They are expected to have received vaccinations against smallpox, malaria and yellow fever. They are allowed not more than four litres of liquor at the point of entry while items such as wristwatches, cosmetics, cameras and other personal effects are allowed duty-free subject to quantities. Other goods attract ‘on-the-spot’ duties. Internationally known illegal substances are not allowed in the country.

The National Anthem
Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love strength and faith,
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

O God of creation, direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right,
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

The National Pledge
I pledge to Nigeria my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity
And uphold her honour and glory
So help me God.

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