NIS Comptroller-General, Mr Muhammad Babandede, speaks in Abuja on September 6, 2019.
Last Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari introduced that individuals holding African passports can now apply for a visa upon arrival in Nigeria.
“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,” Buhari stated on the Aswan Forum in Egypt.
“We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he added.
Putting into consideration that Nigeria was one of many final nations to signal AFCTA and has closed its land borders with neighbouring nations for months, what does this new coverage imply? Is the Buhari administration pushing for extra openness, and why?
What precisely does the coverage entail?
Before Buhari made the current announcement in Egypt, Nigeria had a visa-on-arrival coverage for “frequently high net worth investors and intending visitors who may not be able to obtain visa at the Nigerian Missions/Embassies in their countries of residence due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels,” based on the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
However, the brand new visa-on-arrival coverage, which is ready to kick off in January 2020, seems to additional increase the category of people that can come into the nation with much less restrictions.
It favours Africans with a legitimate passport who want to come into the nation for a brief go to, for functions equivalent to tourism, and grants them authorized keep for as much as 90 days.
“The visa is only valid for people visiting, not for those who want residency or employment,” Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, instructed Channels TV in a cellphone interview on Friday.
Babandede stated President Buhari had given approval for the brand new visa regime a very long time and directed the NIS to seek the advice of with stakeholders, function the method in a clear method and guarantee it doesn’t compromise nationwide safety.
Babandede asserted that the NIS had adopted the President’s orders, noting that the brand new coverage had been extensively mentioned at its retreat in Benin-city and that it has consulted with stakeholders, together with safety businesses, the hospitality business and civil society.
“We are really prepared,” he stated.
To Do Or Not To Do – The Issues
But not everyone seems to be satisfied the NIS has the capability to make sure the brand new coverage advantages the nation.
While recognising some great benefits of open borders – elevated commerce, extra earnings from tourism actions – a Professor within the Department of Economics at Bayero University, Kano, Garba Sheka, believes the coverage stands the danger of accelerating unemployment within the nation because it permits migrants from poorer nations to sneak into the nation to work.
“We may enter into problems that we come to regret later,” Prof. Sheka stated, whereas responding to questions on Sunrise Daily.
A safety professional, Tony Nyiam, additionally warned that the timing of the coverage was fallacious, contemplating the safety state of affairs within the nation.
“There is too much wishful thinking rather than critical thinking,” he stated.
He argued that each nation – UAE (Dubai), Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda – which has applied a visa-on-arrival coverage have tied it in the direction of sure targets geared in the direction of bettering the lives of their residents. It is fallacious to do it simply because “it is an AU policy, you need to have your own national interest.”
Nyiam famous that “there is no proper in depth consultation within the immigration service” and that “Nigeria doesn’t have the technical infrastructure to detect if someone comes in and disappears.”
“We are a rich country in the midst of poor countries,” he added. “The President was too much in a hurry.”
However, President of a Nigerian overseas relations think-tank, the Association of Foreign Relations Professionals of Nigeria, Gani Lawal, described protectionist views as “local.”
“The trend is that everyone is moving towards free movement,” he stated. “We started with ECOWAS; Nigeria played a leadership role there and it has been successful. Now we are moving to Africa in order to show the leadership that God has endowed us with.”
Lawal stated Nigeria’s choice to implement a visa-on-arrival for all Africans will pull in different African nations to do the identical.
Continental Leadership Over National Interest?
President Buhari’s announcement in Egypt was barely stunning for 2 rapid causes.
The first was that the nation had taken its time to signal the AFCTA, regardless of being one of many main nations that championed its drafting. The authorities needed to seek the advice of labour unions and native producers, assuaging their issues that the settlement wouldn’t flood the nation’s market with inferior or subsidised overseas items.
Secondly, in August, President Buhari began to implement a coverage of closing the nation’s land border in an effort to stem the circulation of contraband items and prison exercise.
Also, since 2015, the Buhari administration has pursued insular insurance policies that search to realize autarkic outcomes. For instance, the central financial institution set the worth of the naira and banned using authorities overseas change to buy sure items whereas directing investments in the direction of native agriculture and manufacturing.
Overall, the messaging from the federal government was that the nation needed to rely by itself residents to develop the economic system.
“My greatest desire is that Nigeria moves from import-dependence to self-sufficiency in local production and becomes an export-led economy in goods and services,” President Buhari has stated.
Meanwhile, the federal government’s strategy to attaining that dream continues to generate controversy. And the brand new visa coverage will add to the controversy. Will the coverage find yourself empowering the Nigerian economic system or will it enhance the nation’s safety issues?