So I’ve made it to a full two weeks on my PULSE assignment in Abuja, Nigeria. What a journey it has been already, the things I’ve seen and the people I have met. I arrived in the early hours of Sunday 28 June – I did have a little hiccough with an Immigration Officer as I didn’t have the right paperwork but that’s a distant memory now.
My NGO were in the process of moving offices so I was lucky enough to visit both offices. There doesn’t seem to be a differentiation between residential and commercial space. Both offices are inn purpose built houses converted inot office space. So each office is en-suite! The downtime gave me the chance to acclimatise to Abuja and do some hunting for apartments. Furnished accommodation especially for a short term let is expensive in Abuja! There are 7 of us GSK PULSE assignees here in Abuja. We are all continually reminded to be cautious and conscious of our surroundings. With the recent trouble in north Nigeria, security of our accommodation is key.
We have arrived in Nigeria in an interesting time of change; with a new democratically elected government sworn in at the end of May, every Nigerian is looking forward to change. The average man on the street is very informed on the political issues and can converse at length on the issues as well as the causes as I have found. They are all hopeful for a positive change.
Our weekend of house hunting did give us the chance to see the outskirts of Abuja, we were with a local housing agent and a fellow GSK colleague who is Nigerian. We stopped at a local market in Lugbe, as I wanted to get some local bananas and check out what else was on offer. What an assault on the senses! There were men sitting in front of bathtubs, I thought they were selling bathtubs. I was invited to look in the bathtubs – they were selling live catfish! Curried catfish stew is a local delicacy. You see men selling dried catfish and tilapia fish along the roadsides. There was also a pile of animal bone for sale in the middle of a roundabout. B for bone I said but no, it is the name of a German construction company. Stopping at traffic lights is another experience as lots of street vendors descend on the queuing cars selling things from children shoes to the really nice manicure sets; of course I got one! But I was told not to speak and the driver did the bargaining!
We did find the right apartment and we looking forward to settling in. I miss home cooked food! Nigerian food is too spicy for me. There will be 4 ladies sharing 2 x 2 bedroom apartments which will be great. An opportunity to share our working day, evenings and cooking.
Will keep you posted on how we get on!
Have a good week,
Nikki in Abuja!