Press 1 if you are safe

I was supposed to be in Nigeria this week – but for the reasons explained here I had to cancel my flights and stay where I am (now in Milan). Unfortunately I forgot to advise the safety system that my trip was cancelled (my company takes personal safety very seriously, so we have a division and a system that monitor travellers in dangerous countries, with daily cadence).

So I receive a call every day from an automatic system. I have to press 1 if I am safe; 2 if something goes wrong and I need assistance.

If I miss the call, I get emails. Like:

You are receiving  an  email and a  phone call simultaneously .
Please reply to one of those means as soon as possible.
Thank you.  At the top of the body of your reply message, send the number (or number/letter combo if present) of your choice from the menu below.
1: I am safe
2: I need assistance

Which is a serious thing, but the situation is funny, because I live in one of the most quiet districts of Milan and while I go to the food store or I get an espresso at the bar I am getting calls and emails that require immediate answer: yes, drinking my espresso and 1, I am very safe.

Changing plans

And so I had to cancel my trip to Nigeria – with some regret. The Show moved to the second half of March; but my VISA will expire on March the 11th. Considering my next trips to Dubai and NYC and the fact that it will take at least 10-15 days to get a new permission to travel from the Nigerian consulate in Rome, I will never be able to get anything in time.

Only chance would be to get 2 passports, which is simply an unrealisable dream, being an Italian citizen.

Tomorrow we will celebrate

Flight to Nigeria postponed. The Nigerian Government has in fact decided yesterday (???) to confirm centenary celebrations in the capital in two weeks. All other events have been cancelled. Here you go.

It is with regret that we must inform you that CWC has been requested by the Federal Government to move Nigeria Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition 2014 (NOG14) from its current dates of the 24-27 February, due to a clash with the recently confirmed Centenary Celebrations, to be hosted in Abuja by the Nigerian Government.

The Government is fully aware of how essential the event is to the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry and we continue to have the support of the Presidency, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Power, NNPC and other important parastatals. We currently have tentative dates for March and are working closely with the Government and Ministries to confirm these new dates by the end of this week.

Recommendations for extreme-risk destinations

I have filled all forms for travelling to Nigeria, including the high extreme-risk destination travel form. Among recommended behaviours:

  • Only use transportation services approved/provided by the local office.  Do not use public transportation.  Do not rent a car.
  • Only stay at a hotel approved by both the local office and iSOS
  • Only eat at restaurants and attend entertainment events if approved by the local office and accompanied by local staff
  • Do not engage in any leisure travel/sightseeing.
  • Never travel alone.  Avoid isolated and high-risk areas. Remain off the streets after dark
  • (In a vehicle) Always lock the doors and wear your seat belt.
  • (In a vehicle) Keep windows rolled up and use air conditioners.
  • (In a vehicle) If possible, sit in the back seat.  The seat behind the driver is usually considered the safes
  • If detained by authorities, identify yourself, be respectful, obey authorities, keep calm and be courteous, request to contact a local manager and the embassy.

and….

  • To maximize safety and security, select a room located between the 4 and 6th floor. Whenever possible do not accept a hotel room on the ground floor that has doors and windows that open to the outside. Hotels with interior hallways tend to be generally safer.

Abuja

No passport for at least 15 days. He’s now flying without me to Rome, to visit the Nigerian consulate. If I will get the VISA stamp in time, in a three weeks time-frame I will fly to Abuja. In the meanwhile, reservations and vaccinations. Finally, going South.