This week, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced a visa on arrival to all Africans travelling to Nigeria. The visa on arrival policy will take effect from January 2020.
Currently, visitors from many African countries need to apply for visas in their country of origin, which are issued upon arrival. However, this development will eliminate the process of application from home country, drive more passenger traffic into Nigeria, which will more so enhance economic activities.
Have you been stranded during a holiday trip, especially returning from a nice vacation? I have! Permit me to share my story.
Some time ago, I planned to have a nice Christmas in Calabar for the carnival, so I checked for the carnival schedule so I could determine the days to spent but could not find any. Then a friend told me the adult parade takes place on boxing day, since she hails from that region.
I got my ticket, hotel, cab service all sorted out. Here comes my travel date, got to the airport only to be told the flight was cancelled, I quickly got another airline and Calabar here I was with so much excitement. By the way, did I mention it was my first time (winks). The moment I arrived, checked-in to a hotel, we started to explore the beautiful city, from bar to museums, to resorts and so on. The next day 25th Dec., I joined a band, attended their meeting, since I wanted full participation and not a spectator. I was only going to be in the train, as the dance training and rehearsals were already concluded before my arrival. However, I was still prepared for more fun. While I was having all the fun, I never knew the main carnival was slated for the day I was going to leave. Hmmm!
Here comes the shocker, I just got to know the main carnival was to take place on the 27th Dec., which was my flight date, see gbege (challenge)! I tried to change my flight to the next day, even though I was to resume work on the 27th, sadly, all the Airlines were fully booked. In the morning of 27th, my cab man called to inform me that we have to leave before they barricade the streets for the event, I could not believe I was going to miss the main reason why I came to this City. I got to the airport 40 mins to departure, the counter was closed because the airline had overbooked their flight. After much argument, all the affected passengers got their refunds, meanwhile getting another flight was an issue. Fortunately, I got another airline because a passenger had just cancelled and that at a higher fare. I needed to pay the extra fare, but the challenge was I had to pay cash as POS machines were not functioning and I had no cash. ATMs were not dispensing at the airport. We were back to town in search of ATMs, but how were we going to get there when the roads had been barricaded.
We were able to maneuver till we got to the city and began moving from one ATM machine to another in search of cash. At this time, I was moving past the carnival trains and not even minding the fact that I had missed out on the reason for the trip in the first place. Eventually, I met a good Samaritan, a branch Manager of the same bank I bank with, who saw tears rolled down my cheeks and offered to give me cash while I gave him a cheque. We then maneuvered back to the airport. All the while, the cab man was so nice, he neither complained nor charged me for the extra time spent but was only concerned about my predicament. I finally got on the flight back to Lagos.
This became a constant reminder for proper and adequate holiday and other travel planning.