‘Visa On Arrival’ Policy, Need For Caution
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari had in far away Egypt announced inter alia, “We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down the barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January 2020”.
THE basic argument behind this policy was continental integration and enhancement of economic development of the nation and the Africa continent as a whole. Prior to this declaration, The Africa openness report 2019 ranked Nigeria and South Africa as countries with difficult entry requirements. This is perceived to impede the Africa Union’s quest for economic integration and development of the African continent.
IRRESPECTIVE of the good intentions behind this policy, THE HOPE frowns at the President’s behavioural pattern of making comments and decisions that border on the nation and her nationals outside the country. The Legislative arm of government, whose duty is to approve or otherwise such policies are often caught in the web and handcuffed by the President’s committal statements outside the country.
WE enjoin President Buhari to tackle sensitive policy intents at home before making a declaration outside the country; as such declarations have consequences on the nation and her nationals presently and future.
WE also express our reservations on the government’s visa on arrival policy. So also, we observe the apprehensions on the part of many Nigerians, that the policy would exacerbate the already fragile security situations in the country.
THIS given the Federal Government’s earlier submissions that the marauding Fulani Herdsmen were foreigners in the garb of national business men.
THIS also coupled with the increasing issues of terrorism in the African continent and the limitations of government at curtailing the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. THE HOPE therefore perceives that if the necessary precautions and guards are neglected, as is often the case, Nigeria might have opened her doors to enemies in the guise of African brotherhood.
FURTHERMORE, the openness and friendliness of Nigeria comes at a time when her policy of border closure is having grave consequences on the nationals of her international neighbours. The same country that has crippled the economy of her brothers is opening her border for their nationals to come and do business in her country. This position in our opinion is speaking from both sides of the mouth and it is not in the best interest of the nation. The nation may soon be flooded with Africans, consequences of this could escalate rate of unemployment, security and economic challenges of the nation, thereby exerting unnecessary pressures on Nigerians, and our dear country.
THE policy intention would have been situated within background of having an edge over the nation’s international economic competitors, however, THE HOPE calls for a conscious caution in its application. Although, the Nigeria Immigration Service had given its words that miscreants and terrorists would be denied entry through the borders, it is imperative to note that not all terrorists are on the wanted lists.
PAYMENT for visas on entry would nonetheless generate revenues to the country, the nationals are wary of the fact that corruption may thrive to defeat that intent. Given the nature of Nigeria in her histories, it is not an uphill task for THE HOPE to predict that more asylum seekers than investors would seek to benefit from the ‘largesse’ of our President.
THE HOPE is aware that some African nations had toed this line in the past; we however insist that the peculiarities and nature of their visa programmes be studied and improved upon before the nation opens its doors. Prior to the wide opening of her gates, THE HOPE strongly admonishes the nation to give this Visa on arrival policy to specific immigrants and visitors such as tourists, researchers, and economic developers at first instance.
LESSONS learnt from the implementation of the policy to these strategic visitors would go a long way to determine the modus operandi of the intended visa regime to the rest of Africans. In other words, THE HOPE emphasises that the safety and welfare of Nigerians in their homes should take preeminence over and above the Big Brother illusions of the perceived ‘Giant of Africa’.