PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION SEMINAR (PDOS)
Ekaro (Good day).
This information is for FIRST-TIME OFWs (New Hires) going to Nigeria and assuming you already got a Nigerian Visa or in-process.
New Hires bound for Niger Delta or working for oil companies may have separate orientation on personnel movement and security procedure.
- Nigeria is the largest country in West Africa. It is bordered by Benin Republic in the West, Cameroon in the east, and Niger Republic and Chad Republic in North.
- Lagos state is the former capital of Nigeria. Today, the capital is now Abuja, located in the central part of Nigeria. Lagos remains the commercial capital of Nigeria.
- Southeast Nigeria, also commonly referred to as Niger Delta or the Oil Areas is where plenty of Filipinos are working in oil companies and support companies (aircon, generator technicians)
- Lagos, especially Victoria Island, is usually the main office of the oil companies and the heart of country’s commercial and financial activities.
- Nigeria is an English-speaking country.
Things to prepare if you will work in Nigeria.
- Get a Yellow Fever vaccine and Thypoid vaccine. Never mind malaria. Asian malaria is a weaker strain than the African malaria. If you get malaria in Nigeria, use the prescribed Nigerian medicines.
- While there are ‘imported’ medicines and vitamins, you might want to bring Philippine-made medicines.
- Bring at least 100-200 USD. In 1, 5, 10, 20, 100 denomination
- Get the contact numbers and names of people who are supposed to pick you up at the airport.
- Bring an ‘open-line’ GSM cellphone
At the airport
-when you arrive at NAIA, you go to the POEA/OWWA desk to have your OEC stamped
-Show the OEC to immigration as you pass by the checkpoints
- No terminal fees for OFW with OEC
-Check-in your baggage. For first-timer, 25kg for your check-in baggage and 5kg for handcarry backpack. wag maglagay ng lotion, rubbing alcohol, liniments sa backpack. pwede bumili ng maliit na hand sanitizer. also have a ballpen in your backpack. make sure you got a jacket.
- Look at your boarding pass which gate you are supposed to go. For Emirates, it is Gate 5. You may want to go to your boarding gate early. Meron naman pahingahan, plaingkuran at mga tindahan sa boarding gate.
-I only know Emirates, Qatar and Ethiopian Airlines that have direct connecting flights (same airline) from manila to lagos, nigeria. If Emirates, stopover at Dubai. If Qatar, stopover at Doha. If Ethiopian, stopover at Addis Ababa.
Dubai International Airport
-assuming your plane is Emirates, you will have a stopover in Dubai varying from 2 – 10 hours. check your ticket.
- New in Dubai (2013). You will land in Terminal A. That is not your boarding terminal to Lagos. You have to transfer to Terminal B. Ask Filipinos there in Terminal A for direction. But transfer requires you take the elevator going down. then follow instruction to board a train (free) to Terminal B. After disembarking at Terminal B, you will go thru inspection. Afterwards, you may take a series of escalator or take the elevator and go up to the Duty Free Area at 4th floor. check the electronic signboards for your Boarding Gate. Look for your destination and flight number, and note what is the boarding time and gate number. Look for your gate number and you can stay there to wait or you can do some shopping at Duty Free or eat at MCDo.
-There are lots of toilets in the airport to relieve yourself.
-If you have long wait (10+ hours), Emirates will give either free dinner and breakfast. Ask any emirates staff for direction.
-There are sleeping areas in the airport to rest.
-Be careful with your handcarry baggage.
-There are 2 free internet kiosks you can use. They also serve as smoking areas.
– Be at you boarding gate 30 minutes before time.
Lagos (Murtalla Muhamed International Airport)
Time of arrival: 2:30PM/2:55 PM
-If you have other Filipinos on the flight, don’t be shy to ask and chat with them in the Lagos-bound plane.
- In the plane, ask stewardess for Lagos Immigration disembarkation card. It is either blue or yellow color paper. take time to fill-up the form.
- Upon arrival, follow the direction of lines of other expatriates.
-You will pass immigration for stamping of your passport. Para sa mga first-timer, dapat dala nyo ang yellow envelop galing sa Nigerian Embassy. Hahanapin ng immigration yun. so keep those documents in your backpack. Hindi nila kukunin ang dokumento, ipapakita lang.
-After immigration, wait for your baggage in the carousel area.
i.If you brought half of your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, you may need a baggage trolley at 1 USD per trolley. Kung sobra hingi, wag ka ng mag trolley.
-Never give your passport to anybody after you have the immigration stamp.
-After you get your baggage, follow the line where other expats are passing. Don’t be afraid. They will just check the baggage claim tickets.
i.There is a line for Exit, Customs and Currency declaration. Even if you have plenty of pesos or dollars with you but below 10k, you do not need to declare currencies. It is only for businessmen bringing large amount of cash. If you are asked for yellow fever card, ipakita. Kung pabubuksan ang bagahe mo, kusang buksan.
ii.Stay in the Exit line.
Go outside of the terminal. On the left side is the refreshment area where you can exchange your dollar for Naira and you can also buy a SIM pack.
i.You can relieve yourself or eat and drink there.
ii.If you have naira by now, buy a GSM SIM Card, either MTN or Etisalat SIM card. Bilhan mo rin ng load (credit ang tawag).
iii. Call your contact if you did not see anyone holding a placard with your name on it at the waiting area.
iv.Stay in the airport terminal premises until your pick-up arrives.
v.Ignore the ‘cargo boys’ and ‘taxi boys’ offering you baggage assistance. Like in Pinas, they will try to force you and confuse you. Do not engage in long conversation with them.
vi.If you need to ask for information, look for uniformed personnel or from the store clerks in the airport passenger lounge area, kung wala pa sundo mo.
-Nigerians are generally very polite people and locals have high regard for all foreign visitors.
-It is common to use polite words to address another person such as Sah (sir) or Oga (boss). You can use this also to address an officer of your company or any Nigerians for that matter.
-When you enter a place or office for the first time, the standard greetings will be “You’re welcome” – meaning, ‘You are welcome (here)’. Just reply “Thank you”. They will follow it with “Well done.”
-When you get to the office and you met local office employees and officers of your company, shake their hands using your right hand. If you need to give something to a local, use the right hand – especially when you are meeting somebody of high position or a chief. It is rude to use the left hand in shaking hands or passing/receiving something.
-Nigerians are non-smoker in general. No smoking inside establishments or government buildings. To be sure, ask if it is allowed in the premises.
-Nigeria has a generally dry weather. But they do have a rainy season starting April to September.
-Lagos has a ‘burst and spurt’ rains in April – September. I swear the wind and rain in Nigeria sounds like a typhoon category already but locals just call it ‘ordinary’ rain.
-From October to January, almost all Nigeria experience the ‘harmattan’ weather or dry winds. You are advice to wear long sleeves if your job requires field work or travel, and take a bath twice a day to avoid skin irritation. Harmattan winds carries fine sand from Sahara that causes eye and skin irritation. But it also gives cold weather in the night.
-There are three major languages in Nigeria. Yoruba (Southwest), Hausa (North) and Igbo (Southeast). Yoruba is the local language in Lagos.
-Nigerians are very conversant and fluent in English (reading and writing).
-Don’t be shy in communicating in English. Broken or pidgin english is acceptable here.
Trivia: Nigeria has the most number of english-language daily newspapers and prints the most number of publications in West Africa
- Lagos state is a metropolitan state. There is really no dress code in public. Unless your office requires a uniform, you can wear casual attire.
Women may wear casual dress. On weekends, one can wear shorts and sleeveless – in daytime.
This casual attire applies only to South Nigeria. Northern Nigeria has predominantly Muslim States and Sharia Law is observed. It will be safer for women to cover their head and dress modestly in public if a Pinay will work there.
The usual norm is that the company provides a fully-furnish housing and transportation. With cook, cleaner and driver.
-Observe the security policy in your housing.
-Cost of living : Relatively Cheap. But since most stores do not carry price tags, you have to haggle hard to reduce the price. Locals have the propensity to triple the price of goods if you are an ‘OYIBO’ buying in small stores.
-In Lagos and Abuja, there are several malls, famous are Shoprite and Park n Shop.
-There are cinemas, restaurants, bars, gyms, fastfoods, nightclubs and casinos.
-There are always grocery stores they call “supermarket”.
-Nowadays, all things you need can be bought from the ‘supermarket’.
-Because there are plenty of Lebanese, Indian and Chinese businesses here, you will always find Asian food items like rice, sardines, carne norte, noodles, and maggi bouillons, except sinigang mixes.
– Meat (pork, beef, goat, ram, bush meat), poultry products (dressed chickens, eggs), fresh fish, fruits/vegetables (talong, pechay, squash, amplaya, malunggay, sitaw, upo) can be bought from malls or Sunday markets.
- There are plenty of Nigerian-owned fastfood chains patterned after western menu. Also fine African-cuisine restaurants. KFC is found in Shoprite malls.
-There are 3 ‘go-to’ beaches in Lagos: Eleko Beach, Lekki Beach, Banana Island. Offers boating, windsurfing, and speedboat cruises.
-There are golf courses in Lagos. Most accessible are Ikoyi and Ikeja.
TRAVEL and SECURITY
i.For Niger Delta-bound persons, observe your company’s security policies.
— If you need to go out of the compound, consult your security personnel or your housemates.
ii.Never go out of your compound alone if you are not familiar with the streets.
iii.Never bring other persons inside your compound without clearance from security
iv.Nigeria is a left-hand driving country, same as Philippines. Depending on company policy, you may get a Nigerian driving license.. Observe traffic rules and signs.
- Make sure the car you are driving has updated & complete papers (xerox and originals). These are called “particulars“
-Always lock your car doors and windows, especially if you get stuck in traffic. If some vendors knock on your side of window, ignore them.
-If your vehicle is stopped by police in a checkpoint, let the driver do the talking.
-If you can avoid it, do not take okada bike.
-If you have to take taxi, haggle the price first before boarding (no meters). If you have to take a bus, be careful with you pockets, cellphones or wallets.
v.Photocopy you passport (front and back) and VISA. If you have CERPAC, xerox it front and back. Carry the xerox copies at all times.
vi.Observe security in your place of accommodation. Remember, your indiscretion might compromise the security of the rest of your housemates.
vii. Always have companions when going to public markets.
- You cannot send dollars thru Western Union. Nigeria prohibits sending out of dollars thru WU, but allows incoming dollars. You can only do so through bank-to-bank deposit. Inquire with your company how to make remittance.
HEALTH and FOOD
-Medicines are not a problem. Just be wary if you think you are buying imported medicines. Better to buy locally made ones as these are cheaper and sure to work.
-Never drink or use in cooking plain tap water. Always use bottled water or filtered water.
-Never try eating from local carenderia out of curiosity.
-Spray insecticide once a week in the entire house.
-Never swim in lakes or rivers
-Never make ‘kinilaw’ out of freshwater fish, shellfish
-If you feel fever in early afternoon and headache in the evening, go for a blood test in your company-accredited hospital. Never ignore headaches and fevers.
-Take vitamins regularly
-Always iron your clothers, especially underwear, if you left it hanging outside the house overnight.
-If you intend to bring your children, make sure they have polio and measles vaccination.
RECREATION and PINOY BARANGAY
Companies provide OFWs with recreational facilities in their housing. Others may have common facilities if living in an estate (subdivision).
Most of the time, Pinoys just go to another kababayan’s place to hang out and have a drink.
Each Filipino group, depending on locations and jobs, have their own hang-outs during weekend.
In Lagos, there is Family Day gathering every first Sunday of the month at the barangay clubhouse in Ikeja, Lagos.
There are Filipino communities in major states. Try to get in touch with them.
INTERNET and COMMUNICATION
There are several wireless internet provider in Nigeria. From wireless dial-up to broadband. Inquire with your company admin.
There are several cellular phone companies and offers texting to Philippine GSM companies.
- MTN can text to Smart (Roaming partner)
- GloMobile and MTN can text both Smart and Globe (roaming partner)
There are also CDMA-based mobile phone companies (Reltel, Starcomms, Multilinks) and VOIP services that offers cheaper long distance calls.
Brand new and latest model of laptop, PCs and electronic gadgets are available in Nigeria.
-There are plenty of Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Churches here.
-In South Nigeria like Lagos and Niger Delta, majority are Christians.
-Southeast Nigeria is predominantly Roman Catholic.
-Even INC has solid community assembly on Sunday in Lagos.
FILIPINO CONTACT :
Note: Philippine Embassy in Nigeria handles entire West African countries as well.
Filipinos in Nigeria Yahoogroups:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naijapinoy/
If you see somebody looking like a Pinoy, do not hesitate to greet and exchange numbers.