Well, it looks as though it’s going to happen. If all goes according to plan I will collect my Nigerian visa on 11th October and take a British Airways flight down to Lagos on 13th October. My position has changed since the initial discussions and I will now be based in Lagos rather than Port Harcourt. The salary uplifts are not half as good in Lagos so I’ll be getting paid less, but I will probably not be expected to take quite so many bullets in the torso or man the watchtower cannons quite as often. In fact, I’ve heard you can even have something resembling a social life in Lagos, plus it is a lot easier to get to (and, perhaps more importantly, out of). I can fly directly from Lagos to Dubai on Emirates Airlines, and from Dubai straight to Bangkok. Had I been in Port Harcourt, it would have involved either going through Paris or London or an internal flight to Lagos or Abuja. Internal flights in Nigeria are, so I am reliably told, to be avoided.
My leave flights, of which I get 5 per year, are economy class but my mobilisation, demobolisation, and all business flights are in business class. Is this a big deal? You’re damned right it is! I’ve spent 7 years flying about with my knees around my chin, a lot of which was on Aeroflot or Transaero on the 9 hour route between Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Moscow. I’ve been chasing a job with business class as standard for my entire career thus far, and the closest I got was when I joined Sakhalin Energy and enjoyed a single return flight to Japan – an hour away – in business class before, within two weeks of my joining, they changed the policy. So now I am pretty glad that at least my business travel, including my flight from to Nigeria, will be at the front of the plane enjoying fine wines and international cheeses (as I did when I came from Thailand to London last month). Do I sound smug? I should hope so. I grin like a Cheshire Cat when I board a plane and turn left instead of right. I’ve been waiting years for this.
Believe it or not, I will have family in Nigeria. My stepmother is from Nigeria and by the time I go I will be in receipt of some handy contacts in Lagos and, should I ever go there, Port Harcourt. I’m not sure what my company’s security manager will say about me hanging around with unvetted locals, but as I learned in Russia, knowing one or two local movers and shakers is pretty handy. From what I can tell thus far, my new employer looks to be pretty good – they have, for example, organised people in Lagos to meet me at the airport and help me to negotiate customs and take me to my hotel, and provided me with instructions on what to do thereafter – and the role I am in looks to be both challenging and interesting. Make no bones about it, I’ll have my work cut out. I have to adapt quickly to two new cultures – Nigerian and French – whilst getting to grips with the job itself. I have to learn French, learn to live on my own again, and try not to miss my wife and friends too much. And I’ll have to find enough to do to stay out of the bars.
In some ways it’s like emigrating for the first time all over again. Am I worried? Of course not! I love this kind of life, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Blogging from Nigeria will commence shortly after I arrive.