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Nigeria Moves to Review Visa Policy to Boost Investments and Tourism

Aiming for global competitiveness, Nigeria is considering visa policy changes to encourage investments and tourism without compromising national security.

As part of the efforts to attract foreign investments and encourage visitations, the federal government has said it would undertake a review of the nation’s visa policy.

The Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY and Arise Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, had on Friday charged African leaders to work towards removing visa restrictions in the continent to encourage free movement of persons and goods in the region and promote development.

Obaigbena made the call in Nairobi, Kenya, during the wrap-up session of a three-day AllAfrica Media Leaders’ Summit with the theme: “Re-engineering African Media in Times of Critical Transformation.”

The media mogul was one of the co-chairs of the summit.

Speaking Saturday during a stakeholders’ consultative meeting on Nigeria visa in Abuja, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, described as unacceptable the number of visitors into the country last year compared to the population, resources, and opportunities available in the country.

He argued that the policy on visas has to be reviewed to meet the standards of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu. 

“We are determined to make sure that in the next couple of weeks, by the grace of God, the new implementation framework will be on the ground.

“And people all over the world will start having easy access to the country. We want to welcome investment and people.

“Just last year, the number of foreign passengers that came to Nigeria whether Nigerians or non, was just less than two million people.

“That is unacceptable for a country of over 200 million people. It means that we are limiting investment and import of forex among other things.

 “So, once we get the visa policy right, and we get the implementation framework perfect, then definitely economic prosperity will come,” Tunji-Ojo said. 

The minister further maintained the country would consider a visa policy that would attract investments and encourage visitors to visit Nigeria from across the world without putting the country’s security in jeopardy. 

He said though it was difficult striking a balance between easy access to visa and national security considering its delicate nature “if gotten right, it would no doubt lead to a healthy investment promotion for Nigeria.”

 He said: “You see, seamless access to any country is key for investment promotion, job creation, foreign direct investment. In short, it is key to whatever a particular country wants to do or achieve to enable its progress.

“The logic is that everything is built on effective visa administration. So, we are here to talk about it and to be able to streamline the process for the better.

“Especially, in areas of short stay visa and even our other categories of visa to see how we can optimise them and make it more efficient in such a way that will be able to attract more investment”.

Tunji-Ojo further said if the country got it right, the development would open up the nation’s space for tourism, and infrastructural development as well as create a balance in terms of our national security architecture.

The minister said the present administration’s resolve is to make Nigeria’s visa policy the best in the world and that it would not rest on its oasis until it is achieved.

“The renewed hope is about business unusual; it is about prioritising Nigeria by making sure that it is the best in the world and that is exactly what we are trying to achieve.

“It is one thing to have a policy, but it is another thing to be able to implement it.

`” So, we are gathered here today, to deliberate on the need to use technology to reduce the waiting time to get a short stay visa, business visa, tourism as well as entertainment.

“And how easy is it going to be for them to have access to their application mechanism?  

“Why must somebody need to travel from British Columbia in Canada to Ottawa, just because you want a Nigerian visa?

“What are the reasons today people go to Qatar, UK, and Singapore even more than the way people go to Europe; it is because there is easier access. 

“So, creating the right framework and having that benchmark that will be competitive, comparable with the best in the world, is exactly what we aim to achieve,” the minister added.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr. Aishetu  Ndayako, said the review has become necessary given the importance of visas to the overall development of any country.

Michael Olugbode

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