The holidays are here, and people want to be with family. Nigerians in the diaspora are no exception. However, with the new covid variant, Omicron, countries around the world are tightening travel restrictions.
We spoke to Nigerians abroad about their plans for the holidays and if the travel restrictions are affecting their decision to come home.
“I’m entering Lagos by hook or crook”
Adeniyi*, a marketing and production coordinator in the UK, said he had plans to come to Nigeria in mid-December. However, because of the red list (which means he’ll have to cough up an additional £2,280), he’s 50-50 on that decision. Adeniyi, who had already booked his flight, said it cost £1,700, “That’s because I booked late. The testing cost £90, and getting to the airport costs £75.”
He puts his flex budget between ₦250,000 to ₦360,000. “I’m considering seeing friends, attending a few concerts and beach parties,” he said. He hopes to wait out the red list because he misses his family. “I’m pretty close to my family, I legit adore them. Anyhow, I’m entering Lagos by hook or crook.”
“This might be my last chance to see my mum in person “
Stella*, a cyber security analyst in the UK, booked her flight and made travel arrangements before the red list was announced. She believes Nigeria being on the red list is exploitation and racial profiling. On the cost of travelling back home: “My flight cost £633 while the PCR test from England to Nigeria was about £59,” she said.
Stella, whose mother is dealing with a health issue, said taking the risk of coming to Nigeria despite the restrictions is well worth it. “This might be my last chance to see my mum in person,” she said. “She’s been ill for two years, and I would never forgive myself if I don’t see her and something happens.” Since the lockdown started last year, Stella hasn’t seen her family. She hopes to use this trip to spend more time with them and attend a friend’s wedding.
“I’m converting my travel expenses to fund black tax”
UAE based sound engineer, Etiese*, said he planned to visit Nigeria for the holiday in an official capacity, but that plan is on hold. “My company pressed pause on all travelling because of the new covid variant.” When he calculated the cost of a round trip, including miscellaneous expenses, everything came to ₦918,000. “This is excluding tests in host and return countries. That would have been an extra ₦76,000.”
He has decided to send the money back home instead, “I’m converting my travel expenses to fund black tax. It’s the smarter thing to do right now,” he said. “My family needs the money more than they need me.” For the foreseeable future, Etiese doesn’t see himself coming back home.
“I’m taking this trip for my mental health”
Uju, a product marketing manager in the UK, said she’s taking this trip to see her partner and friends, but more importantly, to rest. “I really want to stay indoors, sleep, get as much rest, recharge, retrospectively look at my year, then plan for the next.”
Uju, who knows about the red list, is willing to take the risk because of her mental health. “I work full-time, go to school part-time, and I’m always swamped with stuff I need to do,” she said. “My mental health is hanging by a thread, and this is the only break I have for a while.” She is paying £2,000 for return tickets, £56 for covid test in London, ₦50,000 for tests in Lagos, and about £600 for accommodation. Other costs she hasn’t figured out yet include tests she’d need to do in Ghana. “I plan to return to the UK through Ghana or Cotonou,” she said.