It is worthwhile holding varying denominations of Naira for ease of giving or receiving change e.g. N5, N10, N20, N50, N100, N200, N500, and N1000 notes. Refrain from carrying excess cash in hand. At the same time, do not flash/expose so much cash when you are out in public. You can attract the wrong kind of attention and become vulnerable to theft.
For the men, do not put your wallets in your back pockets – even if you wear tight jeans. For women, keep your handbags closed/zipped up at all times. Do not count large amounts of money in public view – that includes even when you are in the comfort of your car. Passers by (especially some street hawkers) are constantly watching and may serve as informants for thieves ahead.
If you are not planning to live in Nigeria, and therefore do not want to open a local bank account to deposit large cash sums, you can get a Naira Cashcard in order to save your pocket money. Cashcards are like electronic wallets that do not require account opening. The cards are available from most banks and the cost of one can range from N100 and N500. There are usually no monthly fees attached to them and they can be used for making ATM withdrawals, POS (Point of Sale i.e. like in Eateries, Cinemas and reputable Supermarkets), and internet transactions. Cash loading limits and loading fees may vary across banks.
When buying from street hawkers whilst you are in a moving car (this is common activity with motorists during traffic jams or ‘go-slow’), always make sure you receive the item you want to purchase before you release the cash. Also try to hold the exact amount of cash for your purchase as most times the hawker may not have change to return. In doing so, you can prepare the hawker e.g. you want to buy something of N150 but you have a N200 note. You ask the hawker if he has N50. He/she has N50-change ready and then you collect the item and the change before handing over your N200 note – You wouldn’t want to hold up cars behind you because you’re waiting to collect change, nor would you want to jump out of your car chasing a hawker who ran off with your change!
A colleague of mine got me in stitches yesterday when she narrated an incident that took place at her church. Her aunty had been nodding during the sermon…I beg your pardon…nodding off to sleep during the sermon, when the preacher decided to switch the topic. He asked the congregation that if they knew they had been involved in witchcraft, charms or an occult then they should ‘STAND UP’ for prayer. Unfortunately my colleague’s innocent aunty suddenly snapped out of her slumber, hoping she would not be caught out for not rising to her feet – Problem was…she was the ONLY ONE on her feet and she didn’t even know why she was standing up, nor did she understand why she got the most shocking looks from members of the congregation, especially her niece and kids with her!
Apparently she still regrets the events of that Sunday service – she feels compelled to keep explaining to people at her church that she is not a witch 😀
Whilst you move around on the Nigerian roads you need to be cautious about your surroundings. It is unfortunate that there are touts who like to parade around high-traffic areas where road congestion is frequent. If you are in a car, albeit the driver or passenger, ensure that you lock your car doors before you set off for your journey, and every time you get back into the car during the day. There have been past reports of hoodlums attempting to open car doors and carrying out robberies.
Always keep your windows wound up closed. I have a friend who kept her window only 2- inches down in a traffic-jam at night, when suddenly a thief forced his arm through the space and snatched her necklace. Endeavour to use the AC (Air Conditioning) in order to seal up your car as much as possible.
At night, do not follow shortcuts or ‘back routes’ which are hidden away from the general public. These could be potential hideout spots for rogues and armed-robbers. Only use such shortcuts in the daytime or when there are other cars using it when you are, preferably before dark.
As much as possible stay in your car at all times until you get to your destination – sounds easy enough, right? What if one night on the road you spotted a broken down vehicle up ahead with a woman seeming stranded and you decided to be a Good Samaritan? There have been cases of staged breakdowns used as an ambush for well-to-do motorists. Nowadays the LASTMA force is on stand by on major roads to assist or tow such broken down vehicles. I am not saying we shouldn’t come to the aid of stranded motorists. It could happen to you too but this is what I’d expect you to do:
Call for a friend’s assistance using your mobile phone (which is a must in case of emergencies) and if he/she is on his/her way then you lock yourself up in the car and sit tight till the cavalry arrive. Alternatively you can lock up the car and, so long as you’ve parked well off the road, take public transport to get assistance. Be careful when being approached by eager pedestrians who suddenly appear from nowhere to help. Keep your valuables (wallet, purse, watch, etc) in your glove compartment and lock your car up first. If you see that where you’re stranded has human-traffic then you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Never find yourself out late, alone and without a (fully-charged) mobile phone – ‘tis a deadly medley.