Where Is Nigeria’s Tourist Industry – Especially Targeting Diaspora?

Unfortunately, my experiences in Abuja the past couple of years have prevented me from hailing all the glorious hype that surrounds this place. I do not say this happily; as a matter of fact, I am quite saddened that Abuja and therefore Nigeria as a whole fails to understand the potential economic and cultural progression, the development of key alliances and relationships with long lost brothers and sisters between the African Diaspora and Nigerians and the missed economic opportunities Nigerians are casting to the wind by not developing a more comprehensive tourist industry that would not only draw tourists to Nigeria to spend their American USD dollars (that’s a potential of billions of Naira that is being missed out on from the African Diaspora) but can also lead to potential future investment opportunities – If those tourists can be won over and converted into investors.

 

By Wenona Russ

Nigeria is a beautiful country, rich in culture, legacy and religious fervor and zeal. I love coming to Nigeria!

As an African American residing in Nigeria, I am curious as to the lack of tourism appeal to the African Diaspora? I have been to Nigeria three times since 2021. I initially came on a Missions trip that was self-sponsored. I expected to see the poverty and such on the mission trip.

But the other two trips were not missions-related. I have had a chance to explore Abuja and all it has to offer. The hiking trips, the restaurants, the five-star hotels. But I have also seen the street vendors, food workers, entrepreneurs, the hustlers trying to make naira to survive day to day.

It is highly encouraging to see the average person hustling on the streets of Nigeria. I love seeing my people making strides and surviving in the midst of oppression. No, I do NOT like to see my people oppressed. But what inspires me and motivates me is to see the spirit of the Nigerian people that screams ‘…we WILL NOT be defeated!!’I speak as a part of the African Diaspora, a woman of African descent. A woman born in the U.S. that LOVES Nigerian heritage and culture & drinks it up like a cool glass of water on a hot Nigerian afternoon…STUCK in traffic in Gwarimpa!

It is from this love of Nigeria that I speak on some things that I believe need to be spoken on from the very unique perspective I can offer as an outsider that sincerely LOVES this country.

There seems to be a LACK of an active, productive, functioning tourist industry in Abuja!

Abuja being the capital of Nigeria should represent the country at its finest. Abuja should be the template for Nigerian tourism that all the other Nigerian countries fall in line and follow suit. I had heard so many great things about Abuja, I could hardly wait to plant roots on Abuja soil and call it ‘home.’

Unfortunately, my experiences in Abuja the past couple of years have prevented me from hailing all the glorious hype that surrounds this place. I do not say this happily; as a matter of fact, I am quite saddened that Abuja and therefore Nigeria as a whole fails to understand the potential economic and cultural progression, the development of key alliances and relationships with long lost brothers and sisters between the African Diaspora and Nigerians and the missed economic opportunities Nigerians are casting to the wind by not developing a more comprehensive tourist industry that would not only draw tourists to Nigeria to spend their American USD dollars (that’s a potential of billions of Naira that is being missed out on from the African Diaspora) but can also lead to potential future investment opportunities – If those tourists can be won over and converted into investors.

How can tourists be converted into Investors into the Nigerian economy?

  1. Make it easier for the Diaspora to spend their AMERICAN dollars HERE.

Americans DO NOT like to make purchases via bank transfers and Nigerian payment systems. Most Americans do NOT purchase goods this way. We use credit cards. Our banking systems are different; we buy everything on credit. All the debit and credit cards are set up in a way that makes bank transfers cumbersome, lengthy and lots of times, the transfers end up being rejected from our banks, especially if they see the transfer is going to Nigeria.

Enable more merchants and vendors to accept credit cards as a form of payment (some of the very POS machines many of you use have Credit card processing

capabilities already installed into the machinery. It’s just that managers are NOT

training their people to process CC transactions. YOU are missing out on millions of naira per year in purchases from potential tourists by refusing international CC

Payments.

  1. CLEAN UP YOUR IMAGE! – Many in the Diaspora know what it is to be racially profiled. It is not fun. It is humiliating and in some cases, like the George Floyd incident, it can be DEADLY. Yet, Nigeria is internationally racially profiled as an ENTIRE nation-by the entire world…WHY? Because (SOME) Nigerians can’t do business right. SOME Nigerians in politics, in law enforcement, in leadership, etc., need their palms greased before they even CONSIDER doing their JOBS! THIS IS A TRAVESTY! And many in the Diaspora are already traumatized by the White Man in the U.S. We do NOT want to come to Nigeria and be racially profiled, scammed, lied to, stolen from, victimized, defrauded in marriage, churches, friendships, business alliances, etc. We do not just want to be on the continent; we also want to be AT PEACE. We also want to KNOW that if we go to a government office, folks won’t have their hands out and change the rules to get a VISA upon every visit. We want to know if we go buy a land, that the land is actually for sale and you are not just trying to get dollars fraudulently. We want to know if you ask one of our queens for their hand in marriage. It is for LOVE and commitment and it is NOT a business opportunity to get out of

Nigeria or get into the queen’s bank account. Scam the white man. Scam the Asian or European man. BUT DO NOT SCAM THOSE OF US OF AFRICAN DESCENT! WE are FAMILY! If you insist on doing shady business, you will MISS OUT on DOLLARS and connections that could bless you…and potentially curse YOURSELVES!

  1. CLEAN UP YOUR GOVERNMENT! I suspect this lack of focusing on attracting tourists to Abuja stems from the government’s lack of understanding the potential business opportunities drawing the African Diaspora to this region – AND making their stay here a PLEASANT one can bring to the Nigerian economy. They fail to understand the importance and relevance of the African Diaspora. This area appeals to the white man, the Asian man, the German…but if a man with some Melanin comes in, they are treated like trash. They try to milk them for all they are worth. I didn’t want to believe that some Nigerians hate African Americans-but my stay(s) here has proven this is true for some. They stereotype those who look like us. Even though we COME from YOU!

WE ARE FAMILY! I looked for a government website on tourism just in Abuja and couldn’t find one. I only found a Nigerian Tourism Gov’t office! Every state in Nigeria has its own appeal, its own flavor and SHOULD have its own tourism office that would specialize in attracting the Diaspora to their state based upon the unique culture, landscapes and attractions available in each state. But I understand- those in office are NOT TRULY interested in growing the economy. Only growing THEIR OWN PERSONAL bank accounts!

  1. KEEP THE LIGHTS ON! – I understood after my first visit that electricity

sustainability was a major issue in Nigeria. Rolling blackouts have been a reality for decades. But what I didn’t realize is the widespread waste and corruption that is in the Energy Sector that has caused these blackouts and lack of water and electricity even in the most upscale of Abuja communities- right in the heart of Nigeria’s capital. I was getting a mani/pedi in Abuja and the lady who runs a salon was telling me how hard it is to wash clients’ hair and feet when there is NO running water! She had to go get a trash can and fill it up with water and use that water to render services to her clients! And this is a nice salon, very accommodating workers and beauticians. She is not the only business owner who faces challenges conducting business that would undoubtedly BOOST local economies … .all because they don’t have consistent lights and water. Imagine trying to process a POS transaction but because the lights are out, the network is bad. And when the network is bad, nothing processes that rely on the internet, which needs ELECTRICITY to run! THIS is the everyday reality of MILLIONS of Nigerians!

And if you add into the scenario diasporans who are here and WANT to spend their dollars, want to enjoy the culture, the restaurants, the events. Want to rest at hotels where the lights (not the loud generators) stay on ALL night so that they can rest and get ready to go out the next morning and spend MORE USD dollars…THAT WILL BOOST YOUR ECONOMY!

Is Nigerian government oblivious to this reality? Do they TRULY?

UNDERSTAND the BILLIONS of naira Nigeria is missing out on due to THEIR OWN negligence to make Nigeria FUNCTIONAL? EASY to navigate? EASY to spend dollars?  COMFORTABLE? AND SAFE? Which leads to the next suggestion…

  1. MAKE NIGERIA SAFE!

I heard about the security issues back in 2021 when I first went on my mission trip. The subsequent trips have made it a reality that Nigeria has a security problem. NO

TOURIST wants to take a vacation that they have been waiting all year to take, spending 1000s of dollars in a country where their safety can be an issue. OR in a country where the law enforcement and military are questionable and have been involved with criminal activities and are known to take bribes to halfway protect and serve the people. I was APPALLED when I saw an interview of a police officer that pretty much blamed the abduction and murder of young people in Abuja on the victims! If law enforcement does not have compassion upon the people that were born and raised here, how do you expect foreigners to feel safe? I have NEVER seen law enforcement OR the Nigerian military talk harshly or victim-blame Asian, European or British expats that live in Nigeria. And

we do NOT hear about THEM being abducted…even though it makes sense that any one of them would have access to MORE funds to pay ransom than an average Nigerian.

But yet and all, hooligans and thugs who don’t love themselves OR their own people will continuously victimize THEIR OWN PEOPLE! But will NOT THINK to lay a HAND on a foreigner!

I was talking to a Muslim taxi driver about Nigeria and he said something VERY

Compelling: “You know, there is a lot wrong with this country. It makes me very sad. “The  problem is that our people don’t think well of themselves or anyone who looks like us. We treat one another horribly. Almost like trash. That needs to change…”  He said a mouthful…

I have a strong desire to connect with my people. Even with all the challenges, all the flaws, all the corruption and the risk. I LOVE YOU, NIGERIA! I write these things not out of a sense of hate or superiority…America TRULY has her own demons and issues, too! I believe in Nigeria. And The Almighty Yah has great things in store for Nigeria. But WE in the African Diaspora AND Native Nigerians MUST unite and put in the work to make Nigeria a welcoming pad for the Diaspora.

There are LINES of my people wanting to come, to visit, to partake of the culture, to invest-IF they feel comfortable and If the opportunities are legitimate. And LEGAL. I can bring much POSITIVE attention to Nigeria to the Diaspora. But YOU gotta help me. YOU gotta help make my experience here a POSITIVE ONE! I have already been scammed, defrauded, been without lights or water, I have already lost friends when I told them ‘I CANNOT HELP YOU.’ I have already had my heart broken by one of your choicest men, whom YOU praise and is set up to be a king. I do not want to be a part of the racial profiling of this country. I want to HELP this country’s image IMPROVE! HELP ME HELP YOU! If my experience is a positive one, I can draw OTHERS with more resources to this country… that will NOT try to alter your culture, traditions or steal from or lie to you.

Please feel free to contact me via: wenonaruss1@gmail.com, if you are TRULY interested in making NIGERIA GREAT AGAIN!

Russ, is a Pan-African transplant to Abuja who has a passion and love for Nigeria. she is a semi-retired Admin Professional, Customer Support Rep and a digital nomad.

Prime Times

Abdulrahman Aliagan is an Abuja-based seasoned Journalist with close to two decades of uninterrupted practice in Journalism, a PR Expert, a Development Coach and a Media Crisis Management Consultant.
A holder of Bachelor degree in History, a graduate of International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Jahi, Abuja, he is well trained in various aspects of modern day Journalism including Digital Media and Solution Journalism.
Aliagan is a member of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and is currently the National Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ).

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Comments

James Luka

Yeah.. my Aunty our country NIGERIA is bless..but the government have lack of understanding and selfishness…

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