FG’s New Visa Policy
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, while unveiling the new visa policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, had explained that “The Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 is intended to attract innovation, specialized skills and knowledge from abroad to complement locally available ones”. The way and manner of achieving this was the creation of short visit, temporary and permanent residence visas which also have 79 visa classes. For Nigerians with dual citizenship, the new visa policy “introduces special visas for Nigerians in Diaspora who either by birth, marriage or nationalization have assumed dual citizenship. Such category of Nigerians will now be able to make use of the passports of their adopted countries to visit Nigeria without the need for short- stay visa”.
THIS provision is applauded by The HOPE as it would allow Nigerians in the Diaspora unrestricted access to their fatherland, and also encourage them to contribute their quota to the development of the nation through commerce, industry and human capital development amongst others.
DESPITE the hues and cries of Nigerians against the visa policy, the Federal Government had inaugurated the new visa policy. THE HOPE perceives the inclination of the government at the centre to believe that the Nigerian people are somewhat knowledgeable about foreign policy and international relations. This perception portrays the government at the centre as being conscious about popular desires. THE HOPE therefore implores the government to have a deep consideration for the apprehensions of the people before certain policies are given the force of law.
THE new visa policy has addressed the major criticism against the proposal of visa on entry policy, which is one of the various provisions of the policy. The HOPE had joined its voice with those of stakeholders and concerned Nigerians that such would aggravate the insecurity situation in the country. However, following the outcry, the Federal Government stated unequivocally that the policy would only be applied to African visitors who hold the passports of any member state of the African Union and who visit the country through the airports. Therefore, Africans who travel through the land borders would be expected to get visas before entering the country. Besides, THE HOPE applauds the intention of government to employ a global visa system with biometrics, which would be linked to each application online and eventual verification conducted at the point of entry, in order to reduce the probability of criminals beating the system.
BY the new visa policy as unveiled, the President and his advisers could have hoped that the technical changes especially to the visa on arrival policy could have assuaged the fears of the people, but THE HOPE warns that this may not be the case. Terrorists have beaten the most sophisticated security checks in the world over, and hence Nigeria has to be extra vigilant and work in a harmonious relationship with INTERPOL and others in order to ensure that criminals do not take advantage of the technical incompetence of Nigeria to circumvent the programme.
IN other words, THE HOPE holds dear its demand that the nation ought to develop its security apparatus, decimate the terrorist groups and remain vigilant against the gathering of human predators in the country. In line with this, the land borders also need to be reinforced and secured against those who have perfected means of sneaking into the country without documentation. Furthermore, THE HOPE observes that most Nigeria-made policies are always good of paper, while the implementation never leaves the drawing board. This should not be the case, given the grave implications of negligence by those that would implement the policy. Training and re-training must be enforced amongst the workforce in whose hands lie the implementation .
FINALLY, over the years, THE HOPE observes that the nation’s foreign policy while benefitting other African nations had not received reciprocity. Therefore, given the “Nigeria First” idea, this visa policy must be implemented with the mindset that Nigerians and Nigeria should be the main beneficiary and not victims in this new visa arrangement. More than before, this is also the umpteenth time for Nigeria to have a national carrier that would reap benefits from intending international visitors and beneficiaries of the new visa policy.