Why Nigeria Introduced New Visa Policy -Buhari

Buhari formally presented the new visa policy – which has 79 categories, up from the previous six – to the public at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The new visa regime has 79 categories, up from the previous six / Photo credit: premiumtimesng.com
The new visa regime has 79 categories, up from the previous six / Photo credit: premiumtimesng.com

President Muhammadu Buhari, has said that Nigeria’s new Visa Policy 2020 just introduced by the federal government has the primary objective of attracting specialised skills, knowledge and innovation to its economy from overseas.

Buhari formally presented the new visa policy – which has 79 categories, up from the previous six – to the public at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

According to a statement by Buhari’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari stated that it would help the country to attain a globally-competitive economy in line with the goals of his Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council.

He said, “Earlier in the course of this Administration, we introduced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) with one of the objectives being to minimise bottlenecks which impede innovation and market based solutions for building an inclusive economy.

“The Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 is intended to attract innovation, specialised skills and knowledge from abroad to complement locally available ones.”

Buhari also explained that the new policy was in line with the focus of the African Union to achieve African integration, adding that already Nigeria had started the implementation of visa on arrival for holders of passports of AU member states.

“I therefore commend the document to the international community, foreign and local business entities. We are open for business”, the President said.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, told the session that the country’s security would not be compromised by the visa policy, though it addressed the needs of persons visiting Nigeria.

He also explained that ultimately, the economy would be the biggest beneficiary through the promotion of business, tourism and other sectors.

The minster noted, “Especially, the new visa policy will be helpful to the Diaspora Nigerians by birth who can now use other passports to visit the country because some countries do not allow dual citizenship.”

Aregbesola also gave reasons the country went for the 79 visa categorisation.

He told the State House Correspondents that, “The reason is simple; we want to be very detailed in the classification of people who we have to bring into our country so as to limit the chances of anyone of them escaping our watch. It is to enhance security; that is the number one consideration.

“Secondly, it is to expand our economy. Let me give you an example; I won’t mention the name. A university wrote me as the minister to request a specific number of visa allocation so as to enhance the number of students coming to that institution. Others would not even know how to handle such requests.

“For every foreign student you have, it’s a boost to our economy because they are not going to pay naira, they will pay in foreign currency. And you know for every dollar you earn is a boost to the Nigerian currency, economy and our reserve.

“So, we now have a specified visa for education. For religious tourism, we know and I won’t mention name, that there are people who come into this country purely for spiritual matters. We can’t deny it because it exists.

“There are people who come to simply go to OPA-Oranmiyan in Ife or the well in Daura. We want to be sure that such people are captured separately so as to monitor them and ensure that there is no risk attached and there is no threats to our security.”

Aregbesola also said the visa on arrival implementation would involve only the four functional international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano, not just any entry port into the country.

Also speaking on the new visa policy, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, stated that it was designed to curb corruption.

He also said that the technological hub to drive the process, the Migrants Information and Data Analysis, had already been installed.

However, reacting to the fears expressed by some Nigerians about the number of foreigners in the country, Babandede said,
“On the complaints about the number of foreigners in Nigeria, I want you to consider the number of Nigerians outside also. Nigeria must export its labour.

“In the next decade, we are going to be the most populous nation in the world.

“If you know the number of Nigerians in other ECOWAS countries and the business the control, you will not develop hatred for migrants.

“As long as they live legally and do their jobs correctly, we should consider that there are Nigerians elsewhere. It is important for us to know this.”

The Interview Editors

Written by The Interview Editors

The Interview is a niche publication, targeting leaders and aspiring leaders in business, politics, entertainment, sports, arts, the professions and others within society’s upper middle class and high-end segment in Nigeria.