FG LAUNCHES NEW VISA POLICY
By Nana Asmau Naseer
As part of efforts towards achieving the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present Administration, President Muhammadu Buhari, today, officially launched the Nigerian Visa Policy 2020 to support the attainment of a globally competitive economy for the country, by building on the efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council.
The President, while performing the presentation at the State House, Abuja, said the initiative would attract innovation, specialised skills and knowledge from abroad to complement local capacity as a pathway to achieving the Security, Economy and Transparency agenda of his administration.
According to him, “the policy would improve the business environment, attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and boost tourism, without compromising National Security”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, while announcing the new policy at the Aswan Forum in Egypt, last November, stated that: “We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down 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.”
Earlier, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said that the operation of the Nigerian Visa Policy is cardinal to the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, adding that the new regime is expected to boost economic activities in the areas of tourism, aviation, entertainment, commerce and other areas where Nigeria has comparative advantage over other African countries, noting that it also presents Nigeria with the opportunity to apply the principle of reciprocity with her visa policy in the nation’s bilateral and multilateral relations.
He also said that the policy would impact positively on the nation’s economy by providing jobs for the people as well as lifting Nigeria’s teeming population out of poverty in line with the vision of the present administration to take 100million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
“The NVP 2020 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”, the Minister said.
Ogbeni Aregbesola who emphasised that adequate control measures have been provided both before and after entry into Nigeria, called on Nigerians in Diaspora to respect the provisions of the immigration laws of their new countries as well as those of Nigeria.
He further said that the implementation of the NPV2020 will require collaboration with several MDAs involved in diplomacy, trade, investment, education, tourism, manufacturing, monetary policies, security, intelligence and many more.
The Minister who expressed the commitment of his Ministry to the implementation of the NVP 2020 in view of its supervisory role on the Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS), congratulated the Service for the landmark policy and also invited all prospective visitors, investors and residents to a new and refreshing experience in Nigeria and with Nigeria Immigration Service.
Some of the features of NVP 2020 include, Visa On Arrival for African Union nationals, increase in the classes of visas from 6 to 79, creation of visa codes for all classes of visa and introduction of e-visas.
The new visa policy is expected to take Nigeria some steps up in the Africa Visa Openness Report published annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB) which would be a further boost on the global Ease Of Doing Business league table.
Also speaking, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede disclosed that, to ensure strict compliance with the conditions for the issuance of the visa, the Service had already put in place, a technological hub which he called, Migrants Information and Data Analysis (MIDAS).
He expressed optimism that the automated system will check bribery and corruption in line with the policy thrust of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration as well as prevent infiltration of the nation’s economy by criminals and terrorists.