My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 27-year-old YouTuber who had to pay twice for a road trip because she ignored a policy. She tells us how she could have avoided the loss and the role her nationality played in aggravating the situation.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
In late February, I wanted to take a trip to Ghana, but the borders were closed. The recommended option was to fly into Accra.
I didn’t mind the policy because I was on a budget trip. I needed to create content that encouraged people to take more road trips and I had already travelled to the Benin Republic and Togo where similar restrictions were in place but they let me in without commotion. I imagined getting into Ghana would be the same, hassle-free. It wasn’t.
When we got to the immigration checkpoint, we got stopped. For over 30 minutes, the driver and the uniformed men worked together to identify the foreigners in the car. Nigerians and people from other nationalities were detained, but Ghanaians were allowed to enter. That was how the cab driver I had paid ₦100,000, left me at the immigration checkpoint. No (partial) refund or compensation. And this was my first time in Ghana.
I can’t imagine how lost you must have felt. What happened after you were detained?
We had to sort them out at the immigration office. They took our passports to make a written case. Nigerians had it worse than other nationalities. I’m not sure why, but the officers were of the impression that Nigerians have money. They said we should be able to pay a lot more to get released. Two Nigerian girls there got so upset at the amount of money they were required to pay. The figures weren’t fixed, so the officers just called a ridiculous amount and expected you to pay. People who could negotiate got a good bargain; others paid in full.
How much were you charged?
₦100,000 equivalent in Ghanaian cedis. I couldn’t imagine paying that much after losing that exact figure in fare. I paid ₦40,000.
With your ride gone, How were you able to enter the country?
I waited the entire day before finding a late-night bus entering Ghana. That cost me an extra ₦100,000. Within 24 hours, I had lost ₦140,000 on a budget trip!
What plans did you have for the funds?
Nothing specific. I just needed more money for exploration during my stay in Ghana. Even when I tried to forget, it affected my plans. The gifts and souvenirs I intended to get for my mother and others became unaffordable. By the time I was ready to leave Ghana, all I had with me was my transport fare. That’s how broke I was.
What lessons have you learned from this experience?
When you decide to travel, make sure you know all the travel information you need. If there are restrictions, bans, or embargos, comply with them. Don’t try to cut corners because when things go wrong, it will cost more to fix. The incident at the border could have been avoided if I had paid attention to the rules.