The Federal Government recently launched a far-reaching new visa policy aimed at boosting the nation’s economy and, which will allow travellers visiting Nigeria without a visa to obtain it upon arrival in the country.
This was disclosed by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Sunday James who stated that the new visa policy has broadened the scope of visa obtainment from the former six categories to 79.
It is noteworthy that the new visa policy is coming on the back of the recent signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which seeks to establish a continent-wide market place with increased trade and freer movement among the countries in the continent.
In this regard, it is commendable that Nigeria, which is the continent’s largest economy, has pro-actively responded with a visa policy that would strengthen its position in Africa and attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.
The new visa policy, it must be said, ticks the right boxes in Nigeria’s quest to provide jobs for its teeming population in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. It also fits appropriately into the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020) which is a pathway to achieving the Security, Economy and Transparency (SET) agenda of the present administration.
Both the Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Muhammad Babandede, who were at the launching, took turns to elaborate on the advantages and benefits that the new visa policy will bring to Nigeria. For the minister, the new visa would also boost tourism, aviation, entertainment, commerce and other areas where Nigeria has a comparative advantage over other African countries. In addition, it will also present Nigeria with the opportunity to apply the principle of reciprocity in the nation’s bilateral and multilateral relations.
Also as stated by the minister is that there will be special visas for Nigerians in the diaspora who either by reasons of birth, marriage or nationalisations have assumed dual citizenship. Such category of Nigerians will be able to make use of the passports of their adopted countries without the need for a short stay visa as was the case before.
The comptroller-general emphasised on the need to implement the new visa policy in collaboration with ministerial development agencies involved in diplomacy, trade, investment, education, tourism, manufacturing, finance and monetary policies, security, intelligence etc.
Without doubt, the new visa policy is the most comprehensive yet that Nigeria has devised to meet the aspirations and challenges of national development in the short and long term.
As always, however, the issue with such laudable policies is in the implementation and provision of necessary props that will go into making the new visa policy achieve the desired goals. Along with that are the governance issues, the synergy, infrastructure and facilities necessary to effect a seamless implementation of the policy. In this regard, we must aim at zero tolerance for corruption at the various points of entry into the country, ensure security and safety of lives and property and provide the necessary supporting infrastructure without which the objectives of the new visa policy will be difficult to attain.