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New visa policy 2020, issues, challenges

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NIGERIANS have been ill at ease at the habit of President Muhammadu Buhari making far-reaching and controversial public policies in far-away countries. They are of the opinion that it would be meet and proper

to be broaching all public policies to enable the citizens to weigh in through a global view of the public policies and proffer constructive criticisms with a view to bringing the policies to reflect and take the over-all interest of the generality of Nigerians.

This time, the President at the Aswan Forum in Egypt proclaimed the “Nigerian Visa policy [NVP 2020]” to the chagrin and consternation of the enlightened people both indigenes and foreigners. The unexpected public policy sparked off wide-spread protestations and animadversions which one could say has lowered the estimation of Nigerians on the leadership credibility of the president. To say the least, such controversial public policy declarations, going by the escalating insecurity in the country battling with the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency and AK 47-weiding herdsmen killing and dispossessing communities of their ancestral lands, ought to have been made public instead of concealing it and declaring it in a foreign land. It connotes that the president had envisaged that such controversial public policy would not have the blessing of Nigerians which would hamper whatever agenda tucked in his chest.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the supposed visa-on-arrival has far-reaching ulterior motive, otherwise, there is no rationale for making the declaration outside the shores of the country. The policy ought to have been placed in the public domain to enable public affairs analysts and commentators on national issues make inputs which always carry objective analysis and critical assessments which at the end, will lead to either the public policy being fine-tuned or being rejected  out-rightly on the overriding public interest.

It is awkward, to say the least, that the protestations of Nigerians against the federal government’s policy of issuance of  visa-on-arrival cannot sway the federal government. One is at a loss to see that such critical public policy has been perceived by the federal government as within the purview and constitutional authority of the executive arm of government and not that of the legislatures.

It is not enough for the federal government to reel out the benefits of the new visa policy 2020 and believing that Nigerians from all walks of life would swallow them line, hook and sinker. Some of the acclaimed benefits require interrogation ostensibly to unhinge probable underpinnings which in the long run might be detrimental to the larger interest and welfare of the country.

For instance, writing on “Much ado about Buhari’s new visa policy”, Terhemba Dalor contended that “the announcement of the Visa on Arrival Policy, last December, by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Aswan Forum in Egypt was greeted with an avalanche of condemnation from some quarters, largely due to misconceptions about how it would operate, perhaps mischief. Chief among the charges against it was that it was a subliminal plot to import more killers into the country under official cover, and that foreigners would come to take available job opportunities meant for Nigerians”.

The sweet-smelling speech at the launching at the presidential villa, Abuja, covered areas viz: strengthen Nigeria’s position as a key economy in Africa, attracting Foreign Direct Investments, [FDI] to create jobs and complementing the objectives of ECOWAS and the recently established African Continental Free Trade Agreement [AFCTA]  and ECOWAS currency, etc, among other controversial and doubt benefits.

What Nigerians need to ascertain is the obvious hidden agenda of the new visa policy because its predecessors like ECOWAS established by the Northern Moslem-led military hoodwinked and cajoled leaders of Africa sub-regional countries to swallow the coated bitter pills hook, line and sinker. Later, they were to realise the hidden agenda which was to throw the borders of west African countries especially Nigeria to the vagrant Fulani herdsmen from the Sahel Region and Mali, Chad, Niger, etc. preparatory to alleged Islamisation agenda which has become obvious going by the atrocious and bloodthirsty gambits of the herdsmen, including violent displacement of indigenes from their ancestral homelands while the federal government left them languishing in refugee camps without any plan to drive away the invaders so that the people will go back to their places and resume normal socio-economic life and activities.

Advanced countries like US have complained bitterly about the new visa policy saying that it is a subtle avenue to grant terrorists easy access from Nigeria to countries where they will cause havoc. It did not take few days for the Nigerian immigration operatives to arrest an Arab man who is a terrorist having been given free visa entry.

The rational for easy FDI via the policy is not convincing because a serious foreign investor cannot see the normal immigration laws obtainable in other countries of the world as great inhibition to come to Nigeria to invest his fortunes.  A nostalgic glance at the gruesome brigandage of Fulani herdsmen will tell you that the objectives of ECOWAS were a farce because there is nothing difficult for foreigners to observe immigration laws while wanting to reside in another country for earning a living.

The proposal that “new visa policy will be helpful to diaspora Nigerians by birth who can now use other passports to visit the country, because some countries do not allow dual citizenship” is fraught with mischief. The fact remains that every country has diaspora indigenes and when they feel like going to the country where their father came from, they simply fulfill immigration laws of the countries. There is no mystery and difficulty about it. So this is one of the shenanigans constituting a hidden agenda in the so-called new visa policy, 2020.

Again, another gimmickry by the Comptroller of Nigerian Immigration Service [NIS], Mr. Muhammed Babadede is that the “Migrants Information and Data Analysis [MIDAS] to supposedly ensure strict compliance with the conditions for the issuance of the visa; that issues of corruption or bribery would be controlled by the automated system while allaying fears of possible infiltration of the country by criminals and terrorists”.

The fact is that the biometrics will only capture data of hardened criminals but the burding ones don’t have bad records in the system. They are recruited fresh to come through Nigeria en-route the country like US to cause grievous havoc. Contending on similar vein, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Professor Bola Akinterinwa said: “Visa-on-arrival policy will worsen security situation…if criminals have come to the country and you ask them to legalize to stay, then it means you have fully legalised criminal disposition. I think something is wrong with our foreign policy.

A criminal who has changed name, done plastic surgery and change nationality, it is not a country like Nigeria that can easily detect that”. So all the justifications by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola to make Nigerians swallow the bitter pills of the new visa policy did not fly as far as enlightened and sharp-eyed Nigerians are concerned.

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